Where are the best places to park for free or cheap rates in San Francisco for a day?
If you are just parking for a day, you should have no problems finding cheap or free parking in San Francisco.
My recommendation is to look for street parking in one of the residential neighborhoods that do not require a parking permit. Take a look at this map. It shows you all the areas that require parking permits, which means that any area that's not colored in does not require a permit.
However, most streets in San Francisco still have street cleaning regulations. Those are typically just one day a week, so you should be fine parking in those places for a day or two.
I'd recommend map parking outside of The City along the BART line (such as MillBrae, Fremont, or Pittsburgh. Park your car and then use BART to commute into the City.
It depends what day you go. On Sundays street parking is for free in san francisco. However close to fishermens wharf and other tourist spots, you still have to pay for street parking. If you dont mind a bit of walking, which is great, because I love to wander through the streets of san francisco.
Bart parking lots are also a great option. It also depends, what day and time you have to park, you can waive the fees. Weekend is free to park at the stations.
During the week if you arrive after 3pm and leave before 4am you can also park for free.
However if you want to park during the time where you have to pay a fee at the bart station. you also have to use the train to pay for parking. Because I dont think you want to set up an account with Bart to get a Clipper Card.
I recommend you put your cart in the BART parking lot ($2 per day) then take BART and Muni (public transit) around SF. There are several low cost garages, at 5th and Mission, at Union Square and at Golden Gate park. But they are all crowded and driving around SF is not that much fun. The SF grid system is old and quirky. Ver confusing. Enjoy your trip.