Travel Tips Tuesday: Park It

A Dilemma for Travelers …

You have looked forward to the outing for awhile.  The day is beautiful, and you are even on time until … there is NO place to park.  The more you circle, the more your joy in the adventure goes out the car window.  I have actually had friends miss a field trip because they could not find a place to park.   Parking is one bit of travel that we do need to take into account before heading out especially if our destination is a metropolitan area with limited spots.    Planning ahead on parking just like we might pick out our outfit in advance.  So, not only knowing directions to our event, but also having a few parking destinations in mind is a great idea.

Did you know that different companies actually own various alleys across metro areas?  This was news to me.  They can actually decide who parks near their buildings.  Some of our friends have graciously let us park in their alley spots when we have made different treks to  downtown Lincoln, saving us a bit of money.  After all, isn’t this everyone’s goal?

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If you are from a small town, you are maybe laughing because parking is not a factor in planning your events.  (Although I am sure this could be an issue if there is a particularly big ball game being played in town!)   And while you may have meters around the town square, at the most you may drop a quarter or two to spend a few hours downtown.  Enjoy that small town perk!  If you are planning a trip to either Downtown Lincoln or Omaha soon, here are some helpful suggestions!

LINCOLN

Meters

Parking at meters in Downtown Lincoln went up this year.  You used to be able to park for a dime and have 12 whole minutes to run in and out of your destination.   While a quarter used to buy you 30 whole minutes inside, now that time has been cut in half – fifteen minutes is not quite as meaningful.  (And dimes are no longer worth keeping in the car for only six minutes!)   You can now use your debit card at the meter (if staying an hour or more), so that is helpful.  Most meters have standard times (running 8-6) and provide free parking all day on Sundays.  But … if you happen to use a meter at another Lincoln location (such as East Campus), you may want to confirm their times are the same.

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These East Campus parking meters have different hours than downtown Lincoln.

Parking Garages

Actually, some parking garages are actually cheaper now – especially if you find a Park & Go garage.  All of these city owned locations feature “first hour free.”  We keep the Downtown Lincoln map in our car, so that we can always find one of these garages.  At least nine spots are available with more garages being built in the downtown area.   There are several private garages around town that do not provide this service, but if they are closer to your event, they may be worth using!  Note: most take credit cards.  BUT, some only take cash or even check, such as the parking garage right next to Memorial Stadium), so come prepared.

Special Events

Many places charge more for parking for special events.  Last Saturday when my son and I went to watch the Husker game, I was stunned to discover that garages charge a $20 flat fee for the event.  (Evidently it had been awhile since I was the one driving to a game!  Thanks, friends, for letting us use your lot for free in the past) .  I did discover that you can find decent parking if you look and have cash.  We parked for $5 around 20th & Q, so we did have a walk to the stadium, but it was a beautiful day.  Across the street, the Assurity Garage was charging only $10 for all day parking – worth it if you did not have cash.  1 block away from our spot, the lots were $15.  (I teased my son about the fact that walking a block saved us ten bucks!)

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As far as parking near the new downtown arena, they will have several Pinnacle Bank arena parking lot areas.  According their website, parking costs will range from $3-10, depending on the event.  Cash only. For the recent Jason Aldean country concert, they even had an online map showing just what parking is available.  Much of the Haymarket area is still under construction, so you definitely want to allow extra time if going down for an event!

Omaha

I really enjoy going to Omaha, but I have to say getting around that town still intimidates me.  And my husband would prefer to avoid downtown Omaha (and even Lincoln) due to the parking hassles.  We definitely do not know how to maneuver the Old Market/Riverfront very well.  So, I asked Kim, of OhMy! Omaha if she could provide some insights into the best places to park if you are heading out to Nebraska’s largest city.

Old Market

– If you’re headed to the Old Market and can’t find on-street parking on the neat brick road, head a little south on 10th Street. You can almost always find a parking spot on the 10th Street bridge, and you don’t have to plug the meter after 5 p.m. or on the weekends. It’s well lit so you’ll feel comfortable walking back to your car at night.
– If you’re going to an event at the CenturyLink Center, skip paying to park in the arena’s lots. You’ll find a couple lots along Riverfront Drive (which starts south of CenturyLink and runs parallel to the arena and the river up to Abbot Drive. The easiest is to park in the parking lots of the now-closed Rick’s Boatyard and walk over the bridge to the arena. If that’s full, head south on Riverfront Drive and you’ll find a small parking lot next to Heartland of America Park.
– Most shows you go to at the Rose Theater will be at a time when parking on the street is free. However, if you can’t find a spot, theater-goers can use the lot next to the Wells Fargo drive through, it’s on the north side of Farnam Street and not really advertised as audience parking but I always use it and so does the rest of the world.
– Midtown Crossing is full of great restaurants now, not to mention a movie theater. If you go there, always park in one of the many garages – they’re free for up to three hours any time of day. The shopping center regularly offers shuttles to events in downtown Omaha, making it a smart choice to leave your car there, and have a ride to and from the game/show/concert.
Thanks, Kim for making Omaha parking less intimidating! Hopefully these tips for both Lincoln and Omaha will make arriving to your next downtown event more enjoyable.
Timing (One last parking tip)
What I continue to learn as a parent – allow plenty of time.  You would think that this would be second nature for me by now – recognizing that kids take longer to get ready and to leave than I think they should.  When my son and I went to the game Saturday, I allowed plenty of time for once.  We were actually in our seats to watch the introductions and the opening band numbers – SO much more enjoyable!  So, I will be continuing to work on allowing myself more time to arrive and to find parking, so that we are not rushing around at the last minute.  We missed a concert last spring because we could not park in time to make it to the limited seating show.  My fault for not calculating that (and for choosing Chic-fil-a even though it was not exactly in the area of the concert. 🙂  ) By the way, if you have any or several children under the age of three, please know that if you arrive on time, appreciate the miracle!  Getting out the door with little ones is definitely a challenge!
P.S. By the way, just wanted to recommend the OhMy! Omaha blog.  If you also enjoy taking road trips to Omaha or even if you live there, by subscribing to her blog, you will be informed of all the great family fun events taking place in the big O!  She also has several permanent links for such things as Omaha train fun and family Mahoney State Park ideas.  Her blog even has “dad approved” outings on the site, so maybe your hubby can take the kids while you enjoy Omaha shopping.  (Hey, a girl can dream! 🙂 )
P.S.  Please read the comments for some great tips for parking on Husker football game days made by Feit Can Write (who attends almost all of the games, so he knows) !
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3 thoughts on “Travel Tips Tuesday: Park It

  1. Good to know about Husker game parking – we don’t make it down to a game often but when we do, we spend so much time trying to find a place to park at a reasonable price.

  2. Regarding Husker game parking – if you’re wanting to park on the cheap, there are two main considerations to factor in:

    1. What time is the game? If it is an 11:00 or 2:30 kickoff, the downtown meters are pretty much off limits (as you’ll likely come back to a parking ticket) unless you can find one of a handful of 10 hour meters. But if the game starts at 5, 6, or 7, you can use the meters or other “time restricted” spots like the east side of the city-county building on 10th street.

    2. Where are you coming from? On a game day, downtown can be a mess – especially if you’re wanting to arrive less than an hour before kickoff and leave right after the game. To avoid having to drive through the worst of the traffic, plan your parking based on where you’re coming from – or heading to. If you’re coming from Omaha, park north of the stadium (the neighborhoods in the North Bottoms usually have parking available for $10 in yards or free on the street). If you’re coming from the south, park south of downtown – lots of free street parking if you’re willing to walk a few blocks.

  3. Thanks so much for adding further “Husker” parking tips! Will be making a note on the original post to encourage any further readers to pay attention to the comments! I had never thought about using meters for a night game – makes a lot of sense. We live in northeast Lincoln, so for us, parking on southeast of the stadium (many blocks away) worked great. We never had to deal with any traffic! Of course my son played on the field after the game for a bit, so that probably helped!

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