There’s something charming about San Francisco cable cars, which have become synonymous with the city. From the cars’ wooden interiors to the sound of their rolling, rattling ascent up the city’s hills, a ride aboard this iconic transit is nostalgic for some and electrifying and new to others.
Don’t miss out on the experience or breathtaking views! There’s just three lines that make up the cable car system so it’s easy to navigate. Hop on and enjoy the openness of the cabin and the breeze in your hair. Here’s a look at San Francisco’s three cable car lines.
The Powell/Hyde line is regarded for its sometimes steep grade and outstanding views of San Francisco Bay. This cable car line stretches from Market Street to Ghirardelli Square near Fisherman’s Wharf. Stop near Lombard – “the crookedest street in the world” – that makes eight hair-pin turns in the span of a block. Also enjoy the steep incline either up or down Hyde Street, with breathtaking views of Alcatraz and the deep-blue bay.
The shortest line of the three, California/Van Ness is also the oldest. We’re partial to this line because the California & Powell stop is right outside Stanford Court Hotel. It’s a straight shot up (or down) Nob Hill, and offers stunning views of Grace Cathedral and the neighborhood. Take this historic cable car down to browse the Ferry Building market or to Van Ness Avenue in Polk Gulch to check out trendy restaurants and wine bars.
This cable car line follows the same route as it did in 1888. Powell/Mason begins on Powell like its sister line, but passes by Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. Hop off to enjoy Italian pastries and coffee in North Beach or boba tea and souvenir shopping in Chinatown.
Pro-tip: Buy single-ride tickets direct from the conductor for $7, cash only (no transfers). Bonus points for bringing small change. If you want to hop on and off the cars to explore the city, consider purchasing a passport day pass or week pass. See options from kiosks located near streetcar stations or using the MuniMobile app.
And while you’re in the neighborhood, we recommend a visit to the Cable Car Museum. It’s just three blocks from Stanford Court Hotel and is a working power house for the ever-so efficiently engineered transportation. It’s free, and you get to see exactly how the cable cars work (hint: it all happens right under your feet).