The Worst Parking Lots in Philadelphia

The one at the Mifflin Street Target? The Center City Trader Joe’s? The Bryn Mawr Starbucks? We scoured the region to find the biggest offenders.

Illustration by Hawk Krall

Illustration by Hawk Krall

Driving in the Philadelphia area is notoriously stressful, from the infamous Schuylkill Expressway to an increasingly clogged Center City and University City with all their construction to the abysmal rush-hour bridge traffic. But at the end of your ride, when you’re just trying to grab a bite or a cup of coffee or hit the grocery store, parking your car is no picnic either. We searched high and low to find the most jam-packed, poorly designed, and just stupidly chaotic parking lots in the area. Park at your own risk.

Those Washington Avenue Asian Supermarkets

If you’re a fan of Vietnamese food and you’re unlucky enough to rely on a car to get around, you’ve no doubt experienced the terror of trying to park your car in the parking lots on Washington Avenue at 6th and 11th streets. Honestly, if the food weren’t so damn good and cheap, we’d never return. These days, we generally prefer driving around the block a few times and even parking up to four blocks away. But sometimes we still get lured in, thinking Oh, it doesn’t look that bad. It always is that bad.

Center City and Ardmore Trader Joe’s

Way-too-small parking lots and the fierce loyalty of Trader Joe’s cultists combine to produce a miserable experience almost every time.

The State Store at 43rd and Chestnut

West Philadelphia may have gotten its first “premium” state store when this spot opened in 2013, much to the delight of local college students, but the parking lot is anything but premium. “It’s a tiny lot,” says Philly Mag vet Sandy Hingston. “There’s barely room to get into spaces, and people don’t pay attention and just pull up at the doors. Plus careening drunks.”

The Ardmore SEPTA Station

This one isn’t on the list because of congestion or poor physical design. It’s on the list because it’s stupid. We watched a permit-seeker arguing with a ticket agent at the Ardmore station for about ten minutes, trying to understand why he couldn’t get a permit even though the lot is frequently not at capacity. The ticket agent explained that the waiting list is very long and that people get the permits in the mail and then simply don’t use them. What ever happened to first come, first served?

The King of Prussia Mall

You combine what is probably the busiest mall in the region with lots of stressed-out shoppers and endless construction and you get an infuriating experience. “The entrances to the mall are disastrous,” says one shopper. “If you enter by the Seasons 52/Nordstrom, basically incoming traffic from 202 enters through this one-way entrance. Yet people stop when there is NO stop sign, so it gets all backed up. I’ve seen two accidents at that entrance.” Happy Christmas shopping!

The Bryn Mawr Starbucks

The folks on the Main Line love their Starbucks, and when we asked our friends out that way for their most hated parking lot, this is the one that came up time and time again. “It’s too small for the number of customers,” said one. “They overflow onto Lancaster and cause a traffic jam … every day.”

Others said:

“The Starbucks in Bryn Mawr takes the cake.”

“Worst ever. Especially when people ignore the Do Not Enter on the Elliott Avenue side.”

“Starbucks is so bad that the building across the street has to employ a security guard to make sure people don’t park there for Starbucks.”

“Nothing tops Bryn Mawr Starbucks … nothing.”


ShopRite is known for having some of the cheapest prices for non-discount grocery stores and also some of the worst grocery-store parking lots, from the one on Haverford Avenue to the one at Knorr Street in Northeast Philly. You get what you pay for.

Pretty Much Every Wawa in Existence

Local scribe Jen Miller covered this authoritatively nearly two years ago, and the cataclysmic situation hasn’t improved a lick, from Columbus Boulevard to Bala Cynwyd to Conshohocken to the one at Gilham and Frankford in Mayfair.

Target on Mifflin Street

While the parking lot here at the intersection of Columbus Boulevard and Mifflin Street is huge, it’s positively confusing and chaotic to newcomers. “A real cluster,” says Philadelphia magazine deputy editor Christine Speer LeJeune. “It has train tracks around it, no directionals, confusing entrances and exits, and stray carts. It’s basically the Wild West.”

Home Depot at 22nd and Oregon

You just want to pick up a couple of 2x4s and some carpenter nails. Instead, you’re faced with the “inane design” of this parking lot, in the words of Citified editor Patrick Kerkstra. “There’s no logic to the ins and outs to the various lots,” he complains. “Like, the exits aren’t where any normal human would place them, so you get people ripping across parking lots diagonally just to get out.”

Wynnewood and Art Museum Whole Foods

The Wynnewood location of everybody’s favorite overpriced antibiotic-free grocery store has the misfortune of sharing itself with the popular Sang Kee Chinese restaurant outpost, a pizza shop, and some other businesses. The lot isn’t big enough for the Whole Foods let alone the rest, and entering and exiting onto Lancaster Avenue doesn’t help matters a bit. Meanwhile, the parking lot at the Whole Foods in the Art Museum area is just one incredible mess, no matter what time of day you visit. It’s almost enough to make us switch to GMOs. Almost.