Car Parking Tips · November 14, 2022

Where Can I Park My Car to Sleep? List Of Safe Places

This is a question you will need to ask yourself every night if you are going on a road trip. Where can I park my car to sleep?

We were able to compile a list of locations where you can park your car and stay the night while on a road trip, along with each location’s benefits and drawbacks.

To make the most of whatever the new day has in store for you while on a road trip, it’s crucial to get a good night’s sleep. Continue reading for detailed information on each of the locations covered below where it is legal to sleep in your car.

Is It Illegal to Sleep in Your Car?

It can be challenging to respond to this question.

Generally speaking, sleeping in your car is not against the law in the United States.

This, however, is merely a general guideline. Additionally, the following determines whether you are permitted to sleep in your car.

  • If you are intoxicated
  • Where and when you are parked
  • Individual State and local laws

No state has formally forbade sleeping in a car as of yet. However, the majority of states have some pretty strict laws governing when and where you can sleep in your car.

The majority of states have stipulations about where you can sleep in a car. Surprisingly, a lot of states have outlawed sleeping in rest areas, while others forbid it on or close to busy highways. Usually, states defer to local governments when it comes to the specifics of car camping.

Florida is a prime example of this. In the Florida Keys, it’s against the law to sleep in your car anywhere, but once you leave the Keys, the rules are different. In the remaining portions of the state, you are permitted to sleep in your car as long as you are doing so in a designated area, such as a Walmart parking lot, or at a rest stop.

If you want to know the specifics about laws about sleeping in your car when traveling, we suggest googling “(state/municipality) law on sleeping in your car”.

You can use this information to ensure that you are not sleeping in your car against the law.

7 Places You Can Park Overnight & Sleep

1. Walmart

You may already be aware that it is entirely legal to leave your car parked and sleep the night inside any Walmart parking lot. In each of our experiences, this has held true. In some Walmart locations, we have actually observed RVs and campervans that are permanently parked.

Advantages of Staying At Walmart

Because they are widely dispersed across the nation and are simple to find, Walmart is at the top of the list. Finding a parking spot where you can leave your vehicle overnight and knowing that you won’t be asked to leave in the middle of the night is such a relief.

Additionally, for added security, their parking lots are well-lit. Some Walmart locations are open 24 hours, so you can be sure that if you ever need assistance, it will be available nearby, and you will always have access to their restrooms.

A further benefit from Walmart? Most stores offer free WiFi!

Disadvantages of Staying At Walmart

Walmart’s only drawback is that, due to its bright lighting, some people may have trouble falling asleep. Additionally, forget about snoozing in because shoppers will begin arriving and departing VERY early in the morning.

2. Casinos

Another great option for a safe place to spend the night is a casino. Due to the fact that they are open around-the-clock, you can be sure that security guards and parking lot security cameras are on patrol throughout the night.

Although we are unsure if they actually mind people parking overnight and sleeping in their cars, we have never had any issues doing so before. in particular in Las Vegas.

Because gamblers spend a lot of time inside casinos, frequently well into the early hours of the morning, the fact that your car was parked there for more than eight hours won’t seem out of the ordinary. I’m sure the staff won’t mind if you leave your car here overnight as long as they believe you are inside making a purchase.

This advice is useful for road trips through Nevada as well as travel in Las Vegas, as was already mentioned.

Always keep a low profile and show courtesy to your surroundings when sleeping in your car. This includes refraining from making a scene by cooking outside, playing loud music, or frequently getting in and out of your car. This is for both your benefit and the benefit of others.

To begin with, you don’t want security to tell you to leave or foreclose on your ability to return to the same location the following night if necessary. Second, you don’t want to make things difficult for people who will be traveling by road in the future by enforcing strict policies.

Advantages of Staying At Casinos

In addition to security, staying in casino parking lots has other benefits like access to restrooms, round-the-clock food, tea, and coffee availability, and bathroom facilities. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the majority of casinos typically offer menu items at fair prices. And if you like to gamble, I suppose that’s another option.

Disadvantages of Staying At Casinos

There aren’t many drawbacks to parking at a casino, other than the fact that you can’t just drive in and out whenever you want for fear of drawing attention to your predicament and being asked to leave.

If gambling is prohibited in the state you are passing through, it can be difficult to find casinos, but you might find some on Indian reservations.

3. Rest Stops

If you’re still traveling to your destination but beginning to feel sleepy and tired, rest stops are a great place to spend the night sleeping in your car. If you’re traveling on a highway or interstate in the USA, you’ll probably pass a lot of rest stops.

Rest Stops

Advantages of Staying At Rest Stops

Because it is permitted, rest stops make excellent locations for overnight stays of one or even two nights. This ensures that while you are fast asleep, nobody will tap on your window.

The majority of rest stops offer restrooms that are open every day, and some even have picnic tables. The following morning, if you’re lucky, there might even be volunteers serving tea and coffee.

Disadvantages of Staying At Rest Stops

Rest stops can feel unsafe in some locations, but that is the only drawback I can think of. I’m referring to the dark, isolated rest stops, but it’s probably just my overactive imagination. I’ve seen way too many horror movies that open in a lonesome rest area.

Even though there is probably nothing to worry about, you should always be aware of your surroundings. For safety, you can always park closer to any other vehicles that are car camping at the rest area. Move on if something doesn’t feel right.

4. BLM Land

If you have a tent with you, feel free to pitch it wherever you’d like on BLM Land (Bureau of Land Management) because dispersed camping is permitted there for all. You can also camp in your car without worrying about getting in trouble with the law.

As long as you’re not in a designated campsite area or at a trailhead, you can generally camp anywhere on BLM property.

On BLM property, you are free to camp (or go car camping) for up to 30 days at a time!

In order to minimize your impact on the environment, if you choose to camp on these public lands, make sure to adhere to the Leave No Trace guidelines. Pack out all of your garbage, then!

Advantages of Staying On BLM land

The best thing about staying on BLM property is that it is entirely legal to do so. Furthermore, it is entirely legal to stay on BLM property for a long period of time, even if you are sleeping in your car. Surprise, it’s also free!

Of course, these lands’ surrounding natural beauty, solitude, and open spaces are also huge benefits.

Disadvantages of Staying On BLM land

The only real drawback to staying on BLM property is that the majority of public lands are found in the western half of the country. In other words, if you’re taking a road trip through the eastern USA, this might not be an option for you.

5. Welcome Information Centers

You will come across signs pointing you in the direction of a “Welcome Center” once you have crossed a state line (for instance, from California into Oregon). These locations typically have sizable parking lots where, in an emergency, you could possibly spend the night and sleep there.

Advantages of Staying At Welcome Information Centers

The benefit of spending the night at one of these locations is that you will probably have the place to yourself because it is not a common or obvious choice when looking for a place to car camp.

Therefore, if you were to get out of your car to cook a meal after business hours, you wouldn’t draw much attention (we like to use our Coleman gas stove outside of our van for this purpose), and even if you did, I’m sure the staff at these visitor centers wouldn’t pay you any attention. They exist, after all, to serve drivers who are crossing state borders.

Additionally, once the center opens in the morning, you can get free maps, learn about the state’s highlights, and discover things to do nearby.

Disadvantages of Staying At Welcome Information Centers

The drawback is that you won’t have access to restrooms until the center opens in the morning.

6. Grocery Stores, Shopping Malls & Fast Food Outlets, Parking Lots

As their benefits and drawbacks are comparable, all of the aforementioned have been grouped together.

If you live in a suburban area, you might be tempted to stay the night in your car at any of these locations because parking is easy and seems secure.

Yes, they are well lit, and some even have security cameras for added safety, but you should be aware that it is likely illegal, and you might be asked to leave if you stay there after dark. Having said that, we have spent numerous nights in the parking lots of grocery stores with no issues.

Advantages of Staying At Grocery Stores and Shopping Malls

In suburban areas, it’s easy to find parking lots for grocery stores and malls because you don’t have to travel very far.

It won’t be a problem even though you shouldn’t cook here because it will attract too much attention because you can just go inside the store and get something to eat.

Additionally, having quick access to restrooms in the morning is great for brushing your teeth and freshening up.

Disadvantages of Staying At Grocery Stores and Shopping Malls

You shouldn’t get out of your car after the grocery store or mall closes because that will draw attention to your predicament. You run the risk of having a police officer knock on your window and tell you to leave; in the worst case, you could be issued a ticket because it is against the law to spend the night in your car.

Another thing to be aware of is that parking lots at malls are occasionally not very safe. Your car might be targeted by thieves who believe it is unoccupied.

7. City Street Parking

In cities or other urban areas, it can be difficult to find a place to park overnight and sleep in your car. Parking on the street might be your only choice if you’re on a tight budget and trying to avoid the pricey costs of staying in a hotel!

Advantages of City Street Parking

Sleeping in your car is probably quite safe, depending on the city (or region of the city) you are visiting.

Additionally, unlike parking meters that are used during the day, late-night parking is frequently cost-free.

But keep in mind that it is never acceptable to sleep in a car on a city street, so it’s crucial to blend in.

Disadvantages of City Street Parking

The disadvantage of sleeping on a city street is that there won’t be any restrooms nearby, which can be difficult for females. particularly if nature summons at three in the morning.

There will be a lot of loud traffic passing by and there will be a lot of people walking around, which are other drawbacks.

Being surrounded by everyday people who have just showered and look great when you wake up and don’t feel particularly fresh is also not the best feeling in the world.

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More Choices

Hotel Parking Lots

Because they typically provide a well-lit, secure environment where nobody is likely to pay attention to specific cars, hotel parking lots are a great place for car dwellers to spend the night.

At hotel parking lots, there are frequently no staff members in charge of keeping an eye on whether or not the cars there belong to hotel visitors.

You shouldn’t have any trouble sleeping unnoticed for an entire night if your car is stealthy enough and you keep to yourself the entire time.

One more advantage of spending the night at a hotel is that some of them offer bathrooms, as well as coffee and snacks in the morning, that you should be able to use just like any other paying guest.


The only location on this list where parking overnight and sleeping in a vehicle actually costs money is a campground. Nobody can bother you at night or force you to move your car, though, because you are a paying customer.

After spending a number of nights sleeping in locations where you have to worry about being disturbed, this can be a welcome change. So occasionally spending $10 to $20 to park in a campground for a night or two is completely justified.

You will have access to bathrooms (some with showers) at many campgrounds, and a few even have laundry rooms. All of your car-related problems can be solved for much less than the cost of a hotel room.

Emergency Room (ER) Parking Lots

A local hospital’s emergency room parking lot is another great place to spend the night in your car or van.

Another place where traffic is busy all through the night is emergency rooms. They are typically well lit, and most hospitals have security personnel on duty to patrol the grounds.

The fact that people frequently wait in their cars for friends and family members who are ER patients means that security is unlikely to bother you. So you shouldn’t encounter any issues even if you are seen driving around in your car.

But since seeing your car there for several nights might raise suspicions, you probably only want to park there for one night.

In case you need them late at night, emergency rooms also have bathrooms in the waiting areas.

Car Dealerships

Nobody is going to notice an additional car parked among all the other vehicles at a car dealership overnight. You should be able to sleep peacefully if you enter just after closing and remain discrete the entire night.

When you select a dealership that offers the same brand of vehicle as your own, this advice really shines. Hondas and Fords blend in better at Honda dealerships, etc. If you can’t find a dealership that specializes in your particular car, a respectably sized used car dealership that sells all makes and models may do.

It’s likely that you should set your alarm so that you can leave before the dealership opens and avoid being seen by any of the staff members in the morning.

Auto Repair and Mechanic Shops

Auto repair and mechanic shops are another location where you can overnight park without raising any suspicions. Nobody in the neighborhood really notices the various cars that are constantly parked near mechanic shops. No one should know that you spent the night there as long as you arrive after business hours and depart before it opens in the morning.

A person might stop and look inside your car at night, so make sure there are no visible lights on.

You might be able to spend a good number of nights there undetected if you find a respectable auto shop to park at.

Industrial Or Business Parks

After a certain time of day, business parks literally teem with empty parking spaces. There are still plenty of spots available to park overnight and get a good night’s sleep. This is also one of the few locations on this list where, if your car is stealthy enough, you can probably stay all day without encountering any problems.

One word of caution: If you can find a spot that isn’t very visible at night, parking in business or industrial park lots works best. If your vehicle is the only one in the parking lot all night and is easily visible from the road, you may become the target of thieves or the subject of additional police investigation.

Are You Ready to Get to Your Next Adventure?

When you’re stranded for the night, sleeping in your car to pass the time can be risky, especially in places you haven’t been before.

With all these options, it’s impossible not to get excited about hitting the road and having nothing but you and your car to get you to the next adventure, so let us leave you with some final thoughts:

  • Variety! All of these options are good options, and it is a great idea to mix them up. Your flexibility increases as you have more options available to you. Additionally, variety keeps you safe because if people don’t recognize your pattern, they can’t catch you off guard.
  • Courteous and thoughtful! The importance of being livable cannot be emphasized enough if you want people to leave you alone. Don’t leave a mess, don’t blast the radio or whip out the old BBQ in the middle of someone’s street or place of business, and be discreet. Most people aren’t bothered by a parked car, but some people can get uneasy if someone is in it. Limit how frequently you get in and out of the car by covering your windows. We’ve said it before, but this also serves as a security measure for you.

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