Parking is the act of stopping a vehicle, exiting it, and leaving the vehicle unoccupied for more than a brief time. It is against the law virtually everywhere to park a vehicle in the middle of a highway or road. In all countries where motor vehicles are in common use, specialized parking facilities are routinely constructed in combination with most structures to facilitate the coming and going of the structures' users.
Parking facilities include indoor and outdoor private property belonging to a house, the side of the road, a parking lot or car park, and indoor and outdoor multi-level structures.
In the U.S., after the first public parking garage was opened in Boston, May 24, 1898, livery stables in urban centers began to be converted into garages. In cities of the Eastern US, many former livery stables, with lifts for carriages, continue to operate as garages today.
The following terms exemplify regional variations in language. All except carport refer to outdoor multi-level parking facilities. In some regional dialects, some of these phrases refer also to indoor or single-level facilities.
Underground parking garage.
- Parking ramp (used in some parts of the upper Midwest, especially Minneapolis, but sometimes seen as far east as Buffalo, New York). In Minneapolis, this term never refers to an indoor facility; that would be called a parking garage.
- Multi-storey car park
- Parkade (Canada, South Africa)
- Parking structure (Western U.S.)
- Parking garage (Eastern USA, where this term does not always distinguish between outdoor above-ground multi-level parking and indoor underground parking; i.e., to a Minneapolitan this term emphatically says indoor parking facility; to a Bostonian it does not.)
- Parking deck (Eastern USA, an outdoor above-ground multi-level parking facility)
- Carport (open-air single-level covered parking)