ALISO BEACH PARKING
With Aliso Beach Parking, you have some of the best parking options for a beach in Laguna. You have three options:
Parking On the Hill Of South Coast Highway
The free parking area on the hill of South Coast Hwy doesn’t come without challenges. The speed limit on this part of Pacific Coast Highway is at least 45, and coming down the hill cars are traveling at every bit of that speed limit and more. Parking up on the hill is limited so you may find the need to parallel park to take advantage of this free parking area. That being said, it would be wise to start slowing as you are coming down the hill on South Coast Hwy and as you pass the coastal side parking lot and start your ascent up the hill. You want to slow and signal in advance so the people in those cars behind you have an idea of what you are going to do. If you hate parallel parking or drivers on your tail, you may want to avoid parking on the hill altogether to avoid a potentially stressful driving situation. Some days you will have plenty of time to pull to the side and park while the cars behind you go whizzing by and other times they will aggravate you, cause you concern, and force you to abandon the idea of parking there. Keep a close watch on your review mirror as it could save you from an accident. In the summer when you don’t get there early enough, you will have to parallel park if there is any parking left at all on the hill. When the beach area is really busy, we don’t even bother with the street and go straight to the coastal or inland lots.
Just because you find a parking spot on the hill doesn’t mean the challenges in getting down to the beach are over. You will have to negotiate a narrow dirt path along S. Coast Hwy up or down the path from where you parked on the street to reach the beach access trail. This dirt path goes down the hill and into the beach parking lot. If you have small children or a handicapped person in your party, it is best to park in the lots where access to the beach area is not from uneven ground on the hill with potential for falls and injuries. This is a view from the parking lot of the path that allows access from PCH down to the beach to the left. It is a narrow, uneven, dirt path that connects those parking on the hill with the beach. It has a rail to brace yourself as you come down the path but still may not be suitable for some. For the elderly, handicapped and small children, it is best to get to Aliso Beach early enough to use the parking lot. There is potential to fall and get injured accessing the path from the top that may be best avoided. The top of the hill before the entrance to the path also presents challenges with non-level ground with a narrow walk space which presents risks.
Parking On The Inland Side Of S. Coast Highway
Parking on the inland side of the highway is not quite as ideal as parking on the coastal side. The only exception we can think of is when your escape route from the beach to head back to where you need to go is north towards Main Beach. You could strategically use this parking lot because you have to leave that way. If you park on the coastal side lot and you have to leave going north on Pacific Coast Highway, you will be forced to go South and make a u-turn at West Street or the light by the 7-11 Store that has been there ever since we can remember. With summer traffic and having to back track, parking on the inland side might be a better idea.
The parking lot is metered with the same machines that spit out tickets on the coastal side. You can get a ticket on that side just as easily as you can on the coastal side. If you don’t want a ticket, feed the machine! The beach is connected to the inland parking lot by a tunnel that runs underneath the highway so your family and kids won’t be playing Frogger across the busy highway to get to the beach. We just counted the number of spaces in the parking lot for Aliso Beach on the inland side. There are 98 spaces dedicated to public parking in the lot on the inland side of Aliso Beach and an additional 2 spaces marked for Handicapped.
The picture of additional parking on other side of south coast hwy lets people know that when the main lot is full that they may try across the street. You will have to exit the parking lot to go south and then make a u-turn to come back to the lot. The safest place to make that u-turn is up the hill at West Street or up the street at 7-11 on the left where there is a protected green arrow that allows a legal u-turn. We would not under any circumstances recommend getting crazy and gunning it across a solid line for the parking lot on the other side. It is too dangerous. Trust us when we tell you that it is better to be safe than sorry! This way you won’t get a traffic ticket or worse be involved in a car wreck with serious injuries.
To the right you see the tunnel that runs underneath South Coast Hwy and connects the inland beach parking lot to Aliso Beach. There are no crosswalks in close proximity to the inland side of the highway so this tunnel comes in handy. While it requires a few more steps to the beach, and it isn’t nearly as convenient as the beach side lot, it will work just fine!
Parking On The Coastal Side Of S. Coast Highway
With the parking lot on the beach side, you are literally steps from the beach. It is convenient and easy to get from the car to the beach only seconds away. Competition for parking spaces in the summer is fierce and it is a good policy to watch for families in children coming between cars and stepping in to the paths of cars on the way to the sand. If you envision needing to go back and forth to the car from the beach this is the ideal side to park on. If you are pressed for time and need to head south to leave the area it is also a good idea to park on this side if you can. Going the opposite direction from the inland lot and needing to go south means you will have to make a left onto a narrow street, do a three point turn and return to Pacific Coast Hwy to go south again. It is a lot more difficult to turn around when you go north than it is south. There are pay station machines that take money with a smile and dispense parking permits. The hourly cost is $1.00 per hour. Tickets are to be placed face up on the driver’s side dashboard. Ticket fines are much more painful than paying for parking and there are ambitious parking enforcers and senior volunteers doling out tickets, so pay for a ticket. When the parking lot is full, this sign is intended to let people coming to the beach that there is more parking available in the lot across the street. There are 146 spaces in the lot available for parking and an additional 9 that are dedicated to the handicapped. There are also unloading areas for handicapped that provides wheel chair access. I have yet to see the actual chair, but there is a sign on Lifeguard Tower 2 that says that they make one available for use. Ask your nearest lifeguard for details.
Paying For Parking
The lots are metered. Gone are the days of an individual meter per parking spot and the need to rummage through pockets, purses and between car seats for change. The pay stations give you an option of paying with coins, one and five dollar bills and a credit card. The coin slots can be a little temperamental and sometimes won’t take the coins. The paper money slots are sometimes picky when it comes to the crispness of the bill that you are trying to insert perhaps a result of abusive salt air and rust. If neither of those work you can swipe a credit card. Either way, there are 3 ways to pay for parking that leave you no good reason to get an expired parking permit ticket.
You can’t miss the pay stations. They are blue and are designated by a blue pay here sign that towers over the machine. There are 3 0r 4 of these units in the main parking lot and an additional 2 units in the inland lot. The cost is reasonable at a dollar per hour. If you go on a very nice day and you think you may want to stay a little while extra, we recommend getting a little more time than you need. If your meter’s are running out, your car won’t be too far in either of the lots to go back and purchase more time.
Parking enforcement is done with a smile. Between the retirees who volunteer to take money from you and the paid help that works the lots, they are there to do a job. They will ticket you and strip you of your hard earned dollars no matter what the excuse is. Once they start punching the ticket in…fo-get-a-bout-it!
Tickets are hefty compared to what you would have paid had you remembered to get an additional permit. You will be upset if you get a ticket, so do yourself a favor and avoid the angst. On the pay stations, like pictured above, you will see instructions on what to do. Use the silver, circular buttons to choose the amount of hours you want to be there. Use the more time or less time to bring the time you need to the desired amount. Once you see the time you want, select buy now. Insert bills, coins or swipe a credit card. The machine will acknowledge the payment and dispense your ticket. It will even tell you where to put the ticket! How about that!
Just because you bought the ticket doesn’t mean you will be spared a ticket. Make sure to put the ticket face up on the driver’s side dashboard. Put it bottom up so that are ticket happy friends doing their jobs aren’t confused as to what day the ticket says or how much time you have. This will keep you from getting a ticket you really don’t want. Last we checked the ticket is like $27.00 which pales in comparison to paying 3-8 dollars for a day at the beach. It isn’t worth the ticket.
If you are a regular at the beach there is another option. You can pick up a yearly pass through the county. Passes are valid from January 1st to December 31st of the same year. The cost is $55.00 annually for Aliso Beach Park. If you buy after June 1st of the calendar year, the price of the pass will be discounted 50%. The yearly pass for seniors 60 years of age and over is $35.00. You get a parking permit decal that you put on the window above the driver’s side dashboard. If you are interested in picking a yearly pass up you may find all the information you need for the Aliso Beach Parking Pass Decal by clicking on this link.
Both the inland side lot and the beach side lot have hours of 6am-10pm. If your are late in getting back to your car, you will find your car stuck behind closed and locked gates. You will have to get a ride or get a cab. Those things are closed until 6am in the morning…end of story!