Friday, April 6, 2012 | 2 a.m.
One of the great luxuries of living in Las Vegas is its abundance of free parking. But anyone who has checked out downtown events like First Friday knows this is a privilege, not a right.
To drive to First Friday often means venturing into a world of auto anarchy; you might be blocked in, towed or, more often, circling the same stretch of Fremont for 40 minutes in a desperate and futile quest for street parking.
Don’t let this be you. Ahead of tonight's celebration, take a look at this guide to parking your ride during First Friday. It's not all free, and it's not all convenient, but it will help you get out of traffic and over to your friends and food trucks.
If you have your own parking tips and trick (and if you’re willing to share), please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
For event times and details, and information about handicap transportation to and at the event, please visit First Friday’s website.
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City Hall garage
The City Hall garage at Stewart Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard provides ample free parking, if you don’t mind a bit of a trek to one of the Fremont route shuttle stops. Hop on at El Cortez, Plaza, Golden Nugget or the Arts District Hub, and it’s smooth sailing (or, rather, cruising) from there.
Government Center parking lot
As with the City Hall garage, this lot off Main Street and Bonneville Avenue is free but a little out of the way, but worth it if you’re willing to walk to one of the free Government Center-route shuttles: Government Center at the Rotunda Gallery; Commerce Street Galleries; and the Arts District Hub at Colorado and Main.
No one likes to pay for parking, but for the ease and professionalism (not to mention safety) Pete’s Parking offers, your $5 just might be worth it. Pete and his employees run lots throughout the downtown area near Casino Center (such as 1st and Main Street). First Friday doesn’t operate them, but Pete’s are the only valet lots sanctioned by the event. And with good reason -- not a single car has been towed from the lots Pete’s leases since he started at First Friday.
El Cortez (and other Fremont-area hotels)
The El Cortez lot on 7th Street and Ogden Avenue is a quick in-and-out parking haven for anyone looking to check out Fremont East. While this lot, as with most hotels in the area, is usually free, it has been known to charge $5 for non-guests on certain event nights. Get there early -- the lot tends to fill up quickly.
Fremont Street Experience Parking Plaza
This pay lot, at 4th and Carson, is usually snubbed by locals for its pay-by-the-half-hour parking rates. But that just means you’ll almost always find parking there. Rates cap out at $5 to $8, depending on how long you stay but can be significantly reduced by validating your ticket (for up to 5 hours) at the following properties: the California, the D, Four Queens, Fremont, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Club and Main Street Station.
Arts District Hub at Colorado and Main
The expansive paved lot is located in the heart of the First Friday action, nestled between Artifice and the Commerce Street galleries. The location (not to mention the cost -- free) couldn’t be more convenient for roaming the southern section of downtown’s First Friday events. But get there early, and park strategically -- the lot fills up within the first hour or two of the evening, and the free-for-all layout means you could find yourself blocked in when you’re ready to head home.
From the Stratosphere down to Fremont, side streets are ripe for the parking -- if you’re willing to start your night early enough (just be sure to check the parking signs). Also look out for unmanned dirt lots without gates on side streets along the way -- but park at your own risk.