Travel & Day Trips

Where to Park in Walnut Creek; Detailed Advice from a Local

Parking in Walnut Creek, California can be challenging. Although the city isn’t as big as Oakland or Berkeley, it still has a lively downtown and a more urban feel than quieter nearby suburbs.

With that bustling downtown comes challenges with parking. As a local who has lived in Walnut Creek and nearby Lafayette for almost a decade, I’m familiar with Walnut Creek parking challenges. Here’s an ultimate guide to parking in Walnut Creek, based on my years of experience driving around the city.

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Where to park in downtown Walnut Creek?

Most people coming to Walnut Creek will be heading to the downtown area. There are several options for parking downtown.

City-owned parking garages

The city of Walnut Creek offers several paid parking garages. The rates are fairly reasonable, and the first hour of parking is free.

The largest parking garage is on Locust Street right next to the Lesher center; there’s also a garage on the opposite side of town, near the library, and one on South Locust.

Here are the current parking rates and Google Maps links for city-owned garages:

These garages are a reliable option, but they’re fairly prone to filling up.

The Locust garage is several stories tall, allowing for lots of cars

There are also narrower spaces that are on the older side, so it could be harder to fit larger cars. That said, if you don’t mind paying the parking fees, these garages are a good option. It’s also fun to drive to the top level and get a cool view of downtown!

You can buy monthly passes for the city’s garages. They also offer a limited number of free electric vehicle chargers.

Private parking garages

In addition to the city garages, several private lots offer free or inexpensive parking. One of the best ones is situated beside the Starbucks on Main Street. It’s small, but you don’t have to pay for parking. Keep in mind that this garage is only for people visiting stores that are directly affiliated with the garage.

There’s a similar private garage located nearby to the new Barnes & Noble. Although these garages are smaller, they’re more conveniently located to many of the popular things to do in Walnut Creek, California.

Many Walnut Creek businesses offer free parking for customers.

During the day, many Walnut Creek businesses also provide their own lots for customers. After closing time, some of these businesses then provide paid public parking in the lots.

These lots can be a great option if you’re going out to dinner in Walnut Creek. They are a little bit pricier than the public lots, but they’re right in the heart of downtown and often have more availability on busy nights than the public garages. Look for lots for local banks–since many close at 5:00pm, they offer paid parking in their lots after hours.

There’s also a good paid private lot right by Teleferic Barcelona on Mount Diablo.

Parking for Broadway Plaza

If you’re heading to Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza outdoor mall, the great news is that you have far more parking options than if you were going to the older downtown section.

Broadway Plaza built massive parking lots during its 2018 renovation. That makes parking at the mall relatively easy.

The main Broadway Plaza lot can be accessed from an entrance by the Whole Foods on Newell, or an entrance just behind the Macy’s. The lot has multiple levels and can accommodate over 1000 cars. Even on busy shopping days, it rarely fills up.

Broadway Plaza has a large, new lot that rarely fills up

Another nice thing about the Broadway Plaza lots is that you don’t need to pay if you stay for less than three hours. That gives you plenty of time to shop and have a bite to eat before heading back to your car. If you can squeeze in a walk-through downtown within that three hours, you can park in the Broadway Plaza lot, visit a Broadway Plaza store, and then go and shop downtown too.

Just don’t try to park at Broadway Plaza if you’re not planning to visit stores there. Especially if you’re parking there to try to walk to BART – the mall looks very dimly on this!

If you’re visiting Broadway Plaza with kids or family members, there is a passenger drop-off circle on the main level of the garage by the True Food Kitchen. You can let off your passengers and then go find a spot to park.

Parking for Walnut Creek BART

On the other side of Walnut Creek, you’ll find the BART station. The Walnut Creek BART station has extensive parking. Head’s up, you will have to pay to park there. The fee is $3 per day for the publicly-owned BART lot, and $18 per day for the new privately-owned South Lot.

Walnut Creek BART has two parking lots

Before the pandemic, when a lot of people were commuting downtown, parking at the BART station would fill up quickly. These days, BART ridership is down, and it’s easier to find a spot.

Parking is designed for full-day or even longer-term stays, so the BART parking garage is a good place to park if you’re going to commute into the city or you need to be there for a long time.

Once you get into San Francisco on BART, you won’t miss your car at all!

Parking for the Walnut Creek Library

Recognizing that some people will want to come to Walnut Creek just for a quick trip to the library, the Walnut Creek library has its own small parking garage.

There are a few spaces with surface-level parking, and then an underground garage you can pull into. Only park here if you’re planning to visit the library.

If the lot is full, you can also park on the other side of Civic Park, where there is a decent-sized free surface lot. Walk through the park for about three minutes to the entrance to the library.

Lesher Center Event Parking

If you’re planning to catch a show at the Lesher Center, the good news is that parking is simple and inexpensive. The city garage directly adjacent to the center on Locust Street has special event parking for $5, with an attendant to help cars get in quickly.

The Lesher Center garage offers discounted event parking

It’s about a 500 foot walk from the garage to the Lesher Center entrance. The city makes this particular parking challenge much easier!

Street parking

In addition to garages, Walnut Creek has a very limited amount of street parking. It was already hard to find a street parking spot in Walnut Creek before the addition of parklets and many restaurants. Now that those parklets are taking over more and more parking spots, finding street parking is often impossible.

Street parking in Walnut Creek can be tough to find

If you head to Walnut Creek in the early morning, you might be able to find a spot on the street. Other than that, it’s often better to head directly to one of the parking garages instead of trying to scout around for street parking. You’ll end up driving for a long time, and probably just have to go into the garage anyway.


With its relatively large population for a suburban Bay Area city, parking in Walnut Creek can be a challenge.

  • If you don’t mind paying a bit more, park in one of the private lots that are generally closer to Walnut Creek’s shops and restaurants.
  • If a little walking is OK, head directly to one of the city’s official parking garages. This garage is also a great option if you’re heading to a show at the Lesher Center, because the garage nearby the center offers special parking rates during events.
  • If you’re heading for Broadway Plaza, the great news is that parking is quite simple there. Pull in and enjoy your free three hours!
  • If you’re feeling super lucky, cruise around for a little bit and try to find a street spot. No guarantees on this one, but if you do find one, you’ll feel very good about yourself.

With a little local knowledge and some pre-planning, parking in Walnut Creek doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Use my tips and you can find an easier parking spot the next time you visit this Bay Area city.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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