Fast Forward SummaryTM: There's lots of parking in Sausalito, but it can be expensive. If you're coming from San Francisco and don't plan to stay late, the Sausalito Ferry will cost about the same as gas, tolls and parking, and is a lot of fun. See also our page on Driving in Sausalito and our special page on Parking in the Restricted Areas Near Caledonia St.
Meters run 7 days a week 365 days a year 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (later in City lots). Meters only take quarters, and you get 15 minutes for each quarter.
City Parking Video: The Sausalito City video below gives you a great tutorial from Elliott Holt, Lead Parking Attendant, on how to use the city parking machines to pay for time in the Sausalito City Lots. It also includes a piece from SPD's Lt. Kurtis Skoog on how residents can use the resident free parking card, which was introduced in late 2011 and replaces hang tags.
When visiting Sausalito, always allow yourself extra time to find parking unless it's early in the morning. If it's the 4th of July or Labor Day Weekend use the Ferry or bus to come, or arrive very early in the morning. The regular spaces fill up and when you park in residential zones you'll probably get an expensive ticket.
City Parking Lots now have automatic sensors in spaces, and you'll be charged between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Each lot has its own price structure, and parking gets cheaper in City lots block by block as you go north, farther from the Ferry pier. Walking a block or two can save significant amounts of money.
You'll pre-pay when you park for the desired length of time, and can feed the machines with your credit card, debit card or coins. You can pay for time in any City Lot at any pay machine. Cool feature: Unlike some cities, if you leave early after paying for more time the sensors detect it and you're not charged for the extra time.
There is no free parking in downtown Sausalito for times longer than two hours, and all spots in the primary downtown area are metered.
Costs vary from lot to lot, but average $2.00 to $3.00 per hour in lots and $1.00 per hour at parking meters. Fines for expired meters or red zones run from $35 to $58, so it's not worth taking chances. Meters are aggressively enforced -- last year I missed getting back to my meter by two minutes and had a ticket.
Residents get big parking discounts in Sausalito: three hours of free parking in the downtown lots #1 and #3 before being charged, but you have to sign up for the program at City Hall and get an access card (see video below). If you are a resident of Sausalito who commutes on the Ferry you can park for as little as $4.00 per day.
Valet Parking: Restaurants Buckeye Roadhouse, Murray Circle, Poggio Trattoria and Spinnaker offer free valet service. In the Caledonia area Sushi Ran, Plate Shop and Osteria Divino offer $6 valet parking with validation in the evenings in front of the Marin Cinema. Once its renovation is complete, Trident's valet parking offers validation if you eat there.
Parking Meters in Sausalito
-- Meters DO operate on weekends.
-- After 6:00 PM on-street meters are not enforced until 9:00 AM the next day. City parking lots still charge money later into the evening, so be sure to check the signs.
-- Meters only take quarters, and you get 15 minutes per quarter.
-- Most meters have a two hour or three hour limit.
-- Street parking in residential areas that are close to Bridgeway and Caledonia St. businesses is very limited, with visitor parking prohibited or limited to two hours. Check signs carefully, because these rules are enforced and th4e tickets are expensive.
-- Let's mention that again for emphasis: the parking rules are enforced. Ignoring a No Parking sign, stretching a time limit or having an expired meter are all likely to produce a $35+ ticket.
Sausalito City Parking Lots
City parking lots are clustered downtown near the Sausalito Ferry pier, and close to most visitor destinations. See opening section on this page, and check out the video above for a great tutorial on how to use the parking machines.
-- Lot #1 is located next to the Sausalito Ferry pier (the entrance is off Anchor St.), so ferry riders walk through this lot to get to Bridgeway after leaving the ferry. As of July, 2010 the price is $3.00 per hour; lots #3 and #4 are cheaper.
-- Lot #2 is much smaller, and is half a block farther north, on the far side of the Bank of America. The entrance is off of Humboldt St. The price here is the same $3 an hour as at Lot #1.
-- Lot #3 is a long narrow 183-space parking lot at the edge of the Bay, across Bridgeway from Poggio and the Casa Madrona hotel, with its entrance off Bay St. The cost of parking here is $2 per hour.
-- Lot #4 is between Taste of Rome and the Bay. .Parking here is $1 per hour.
-- Lot #5 does not have the new parking machines, and is the de facto Marin Theatre parking lot, and is located at the intersection of Locust and Bridgeway about 5 blocks north of the Ferry. If you are trying to go to Sushi Ran or other Caledonia St. restaurants and the street parking is full, this lot is very convenient. Parking here is FREE for 3 hours between Noon and 2:00 AM. Just don't stay longer than 3 hours because they do check the lot. Long term parking is not available in this lot.
The satellite photo below, which you can toggle into a map, shows the cluster of downtown parking lots next to the Ferry. Lot #1 is the tree-lined lot at the lower right, #2 is in the center bordered by Bay and Humboldt, #3 is the long narrow lot at the upper left, and #4 (most of which is reserved) is top center.
Google Map Instructions: Use the "+" and "-" buttons to zoom in and out, the arrow keys to scroll the map, and the SAT button to see the satellite view.
Private Parking Lots in Sausalito
Parking Fines in Sausalito
In case you needed any more motivation to plan your parking carefully, here are the fines as of July, 2009. And yes, the parking meter people are clairvoyant and can sense the 120 seconds in which your meter will be expired before you return to your car. I speak (sigh) from experience.
Expired meter -- $35
Exceeded 20-minute zone -- $58
Parking illegally in white, yellow or red zone -- $58
RV etc. parked over than eight hours -- $255
Parking in bus stop -- $255
Parking in a posted disabled space -- $305
Have any local parking secrets to share? Please use the comments box below, so our readers get the full story. We promise we won't tell your neighbors you mentioned that secret spot right on Bridgeway!