“When I was a kid, my parents never paid to park on the beach. Now, you have to look really hard to find a free spot,” said Nancy Scialdone, a Deerfield Beach legal assistant who was parking her Toyota Camry in one of the 30 free spots in Ocean Ridge Hammock Park.
Ask any local or tourist, and they will agree: Finding a free beach parking spot in Palm Beach County takes time. They also likely concur it’s worth the effort.
One of the best snorkeling spots in the nation greets visitors when they stop underneath the Blue Heron Bridge at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach. And the parking is free.
This maritime statue greets visitors who enjoy free parking at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach. Photo: Bill DiPaolo
There are swing sets for kids, grills and horseshoe pits at Ocean Reef Park on Singer Island in Riviera Beach. And free parking.
There’s a lifeguarded kiddie swim area and fishing near the Jupiter Inlet jetty at DuBois Park in Jupiter. Parking at this super-popular park is limited, but free.
A tunnel under A1A greets visitors after they park for free on the west side of the road at Loggerhead Park in Juno Beach. The walk through the dank, dim cement shaft takes about a minute. You’ll feel like Dorothy opening the door to Oz when the turquoise ocean, green palm trees and cool ocean breezes greet you at the end.
The wide beaches with lush sea oats in Delray Beach — where volleyball and windsurfing are passions — are walking distance to restaurants, breweries and even a pinball museum along always-evolving Atlantic Avenue. If you don’t mind walking a few blocks, there’s no charge to park until 4 p.m. in the city’s parking garages on SE First Avenue, Northeast First Avenue and SE Fourth Avenue.
Toting their paddle boards and kayaks, beachgoers hop out of their vehicles parked for free on the sandy sides of State Road A1A in Tequesta. It’s paddling distance from the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, and just a few steps to the turquoise waters of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Experience a throwback to the days of pulling over along a sandy roadside steps away from the Intracoastal Waterway in Tequesta. Photo: Bill DiPaolo
Finding such free spaces that are walking-distance to Palm Beach County beaches takes some searching — and a little luck. And keep your eye on the clock.
There are about 50 spaces — about 25 on each side of Palmetto Park Road — east of the Intracoastal Waterway in Boca Raton. The parking spaces, which are free for four hours, were almost all occupied on a recent steamy August weekday afternoon.
Arriving early is the only way to get a free spot, said beachgoers. Workers and customers at the bicycle shops, clothing stores and eateries along that bustling section of Palmetto Park Road compete for the spaces, walking distance from South Inlet Park.
“Make sure you’re back on time. My friend got here 15 minutes after his time expired. He had a ticket on his windshield,” said Jim Leighton, a Boynton Beach landscaper who had been snorkeling on the beach.
When on the hunt for free beach parking in Palm Beach County, use this rule of thumb: With a few notable exceptions, parking at county beach parks is free, and parking at municipal beach parks is paid.
The only two Palm Beach County Parks that require payment are R.G. Kreusler Park in Palm Beach and South Inlet Park n Boca Raton. All other county parks have free parking.
Why? Those two parks are within municipal boundaries of the two communities. Palm Beach and Boca Raton required the county to agree to price the parking comparable to municipal parking rates.
“Otherwise, the public would go to the cheaper county park and not go to the municipal parks,” said Chris Korbelak, manager of public engagement for the Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation Department.
In Palm Beach, free time-limited parking spaces are getting more difficult to find. If you are determined to walk in the sand here, scour the commercial streets west of A1A in midtown. You could get lucky and find an open spot with 30 minutes to two hours of free parking. Check the signs posted on the streets closely, though, to make sure you are complying with the rules.
But if you make it to Palm Beach island early enough in the day, there is free beachside parking waiting for you: Visitors to Phipps Ocean Park, on A1A just south of Sloan’s Curve, can park for free for two hours between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The town’s website notes the restrictions are strictly enforced.
Free parking along the ocean on State Road A1A? It’s real in Jupiter. Photo: Bill DiPaolo
FREE BEACH PARKING IN PALM BEACH COUNTY
South to north:
East of Intracoastal Waterway on both sides of Palmetto Park Road. Four-hour limit.
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