Cable Car Museum, San Francisco

4.5
A free museum, Cable Car Museum gives visitors a peek inside the history of cable cars. Several cable cars are on display, as well as a few exhibits. Be sure to check out the viewing platforms in the power station. After viewing the power station from above, descend into the cavern at the junction of Washington and Mason streets, where the cables are routed. The power station is the working hub of the cable cars and still maintains the daily runs. Put Cable Car Museum into our San Francisco journey planner and find out what's close by, where to stay, and where to head next.
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Cable Car Museum Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
3,114 reviews
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4.5
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  • It's a cool museum to visit. We went and find out more about how the cable car works and shows different sets of wheels and cables for the different lines serving the city!  more »
  • Small Museum (fast), which allows you to learn a lot about the Cable, because without spending the day. Only downside: the souvenir shop is overpriced!
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  • Free access access to machinery, which allows to understand how works the cable because pretty old parts
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  • San Francisco is a fascinating city for so many different reasons, and the historical methods people used for transportation in a very hilly environment are fascinating. Perhaps one of the most well known public transportation devices in the world, the San Francisco cable cars are a marvel of modern engineering. The Museum (which is free to visit and easy to get to from any of the the cable car lines) does a marvelous job of explaining the history behind the cable cars, and also exactly how they work. There are also wonderful displays of cable car memorabilia (tickets, uniforms, etc.) and machinery (drive wheels, brakes and so on). The best thing about the museum is that it's a living, working museum. The museum is built around the central hub of all the remaining cable car lines, so you can actually see the giant engines that drive the system, and the thick cables that pull the cars up hills all day. Aside from the free museums in some of the world's great capitals (London and Washing DC for example), this is probably the BEST free museum I've ever been too.
  • Very underrated museum with amazing details and explained history involving San Francisco's golden age of cable cars. The museum is smack-dab on top of the actual heart of the 4 cable car lines. The wheels used to move the cables are all open and working 24/7, and there's a view of the underground wheels keeping the cables. Plus the education, cool factor, and gift shop-- the admission is free! Easily one of my favorite, albeit short, museums ever.
  • It was our first time in San Francisco and I was amazed to see the 'one of its kind in the world' cable cars running over the hills of San Francisco downtown. The cable car museum is a must visit for anyone who wants to know more about the history of these cable cars. The museum explains the engineering design of these cars and is a true heritage spot. And it's free! (Donations accepted)
  • We stumbled here on our way through Chinatown and I gotta say that this museum is pretty cool. Not only is it a working museum but they give you complete knowledge of how the cable car of San Francisco work. It's a pretty amazing marvel when you actually think about how everything works. The best part of all is that it's FREE. That's right, no admission. You just come in, visit the downstairs section for a brief minute. Then head upstairs where you get to see and read about everything. Overall, really great places for an hour or 2.
  • Free place to check out. You can smell the oil walking around inside. Gift shop is pretty cool to see too. The machinery, thick heavy cables that pull the still active trolleys through SF is pretty amazing. Learning, seeing, reading about the history on the walls or their videos, sitting in a trolley there, feeling the weight of a hand sized length of real cable... It's pretty impressive! Donations appreciated. There's a box on the top floor.

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Where to stay in San Francisco

From inexpensive hostels in quiet residential areas to high-end hotels near the city center, San Francisco has accommodations for every budget. Key consideration is what kind of neighborhood you want to stay in. You'll find luxury hotels in Union Square, which has prime shopping, is near theaters, and is on the cable car line. Many hotels are in the northeastern portion of the city, near the tourist-driven neighborhoods of Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, both easily explored on foot. To get away from the tourist crowds, consider the smaller inns and family-run bed and breakfasts in some of the city's more charming neighborhoods, such as Noe Valley or Pacific Heights. There are also boutique hotels scattered around town. Avoid staying in the Tenderloin. If you plan to have a car with you, ask about parking availability and fees. Parking is often difficult and expensive.
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