Hotels in this story
We’ll say it: Parking in San Francisco sucks. If you’re planning to stay inside the city limits for your visit, it’s better to skip the car and stick with ample (if slow) public transit. But if you’re visiting and you want to leave the city — say for a jaunt up to Napa? — it’s hard to avoid the need for an automobile. So where to put your wheels away?
Don’t count on street parking. It’s rare, it’s restricted, and it can require superhuman steep-hill parallel parking skills. The “parking packages” that many hotels boast will keep you from getting towed, but at $30 or more per night, they’re hardly a deal.
Fortunately, these five hotels offer that rarest of amenities—free parking:
Hotel Del Sol: Honoring its history as a 1950s motor lodge, the Del Sol includes a free parking spot with each room. Of course, kids care more about the brightly colored guest rooms and heated pool than the glittering asphalt rectangle. Ironically, the central Marina location makes it possible to walk to Ghirardelli Square, Fort Mason, and the Palace of Fine Arts. 3100 Webster St., Marina/Cow Hollow
Phoenix Hotel: Definitely take advantage of the free parking to include your vehicle in the (relative) safety of this eclectic rocker’s oasis at the edge of the gnarly Tenderloin district. Ask the staff to call you a cab to get you from the hotel door to the secret shows they’ll get you in on, especially if you’re a woman traveling alone. 601 Eddy St., Civic Center/Tenderloin
Beck’s Motor Lodge: Drive in, park the car outside your room, and take the F-Line streetcar down Market to the Wharf and the other touristy areas. Or explore the theaters, clubs, and eateries of the legendary Castro and adjoining Mission districts. 2222 Market St. at 15th St., Castro
Seal Rock Inn: Way out on the northwest tip of San Francisco, stay at this inn to get away from the urban hustle of the Financial District and Union Square. Having a car to park even makes some sense out here—head north to Marin and Wine Country via the Golden Gate Bridge, or south on the Great Highway to pick up Highway 1 towards Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. 545 Point Lobos Ave., Richmond District
The Wharf Inn: It’s nice to know you’ve got a place to stash the rental car when you’re staying right in the midst of the Fisherman’s Wharf tourist zoo. The rooms here are basic, but clean and cheap by local standards. Drive carefully on your way in, watching out for herds of jaywalkers. 2601 Mason St., Fisherman’s Wharf
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