Welcome to a Insider Asheville here at AshevilleBlog.com. In this monthly post, I’ll spill the local secrets, and what better place to start than where to park when you’re heading downtown?
If you’re willing to pay, the garages are often your best bet, but on-street parking can sometimes can be closer to your destination. If my goal is Pack Square, I’ll look down Eagle Street and Market Street. Over by the Grove Arcade, I’ll check along Otis Street or down Coxe Avenue.
However, I rarely pay to park, and it’s not because I’m always out after hours — although it’s important to note that the meters only need to be fed from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm every day except Sunday. If you’re parking on the street outside of those hours, it’s free! It pays to read the fine print on the meter.
I once witnessed a tourist pull into a space on a Sunday after 6:00 pm, plug the meter with quarters and then realize it was for the wrong space. Yes, she moved her car. I could have intervened, but I know the City needs the money.
If you want to park downtown for free, you need two things: a little extra time and an adventurous spirit. I usually have both in spades. What I lack is a ready supply of quarters. If you’re pressed for time, just head to the nearest parking garage. At least your first hour is free, and you don’t have to worry about the meter running out.
If you’ve left early enough, you can almost always find a free spot, as long as you don’t mind walking a little. Depending on where you’re trying to go, I recommend the South Slope. There are free spaces along Lexington Station, although they tend to fill up fast. Just a bit further down, you can find ample spaces on Banks or Buxton Avenues.
But that’s a hike if you want to get to the Grove Arcade or Haywood Street. If that’s the case, head past the “Civic Center” (now given a corporate title I refuse to repeat) on Flint Street. Just past the traffic lights and over the bridge, there’s a gravel lot just before you reach Cherry Street. Take a left into the lot and find an empty spot. It’s free and there’s no time limit!
If things are tough and you still haven’t found a spot try the Greenlife Grocery parking lot on Merrimon Avenue and hike back up the hill to Broadway and the north end of downtown. Greenlife won’t know, as long as you’re back before they close.
Finally, there’s one special place I like to park off Patton Avenue, but I’ll keep that spot secret for now, unless enough readers comment on this post.