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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Cable Car Museum

Learn about the old-fashioned cable cars that have transported San Franciscans for generations as you tour around a historic powerhouse and working museum.

The San Francisco Cable Car Museum is a tribute to the city’s iconic transportation system. Discover the fascinating heritage of one of the last manually operated cable car systems in the world as you explore museum exhibits that link the 19th century to today. Find out about the inventor of the cable car, as well as the system’s technology and rapid expansion throughout the decades. Explore the functioning powerhouse, which still drives three of the historic downtown lines.

Enter the spacious old powerhouse and begin your exploration of the historical exhibits. The museum was established in 1973 and encompasses a complex of heritage engine rooms and galleries. Stroll around several restored cable cars, including two restored cars from the 1870s.

Follow a timeline of San Francisco’s public transit history, beginning with the invention of the cable car and its installation in the city in 1873. Find out about the system’s expansion throughout the city, as well as its near demise before being resurrected by the dedicated Friends of the Cable Car Museum group. Peruse mechanical displays, photographs and historical artifacts that help to tell the story of San Francisco’s cable cars.

Check out the machinery that drives the cables from two lookout decks in the powerhouse’s upper floor. You can also descend below the Mason and Washington streets’ junction to see the expansive underground haulage cables. Stop by the museum’s gift shop to pick up cable-car souvenirs, memorabilia and history books.

Jump onboard one of the historic cable cars and go on an inexpensive and nostalgic tour around the city. You can ride one of two lines that connect Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. A third route travels along California Street.

The San Francisco Cable Car Museum is situated in the Washington-Mason Powerhouse and car barn on Nob Hill. It is open daily, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. This attraction is free to visit; however, cable-car rides incur regular transit ticket costs.


Guide to Exploring Cable Car Museum


Top Cable Car Museum Hotel & Accommodation Deals

See all 1,579 properties near Cable Car Museum
InterContinental San Francisco NZ$200
InterContinental San Francisco

InterContinental San Francisco

888 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Downtown San Francisco, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Westfield San Francisco Centre. Warfield Theater and SHN Curran Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Market St & 5th St Stop is 5 minutes by foot and Powell St. Station is 7 minutes.

    Hilton San Francisco Financial District NZ$149
    Hilton San Francisco Financial District

    Hilton San Francisco Financial District

    750 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Ferry Building, Lombard Street and Pier 39. Oracle Park and Palace of Fine Arts are also within 3 mi (5 km). California St & Kearny St Stop is only a 5-minute walk and California St & Grant Ave Stop is 5 minutes.

      Holiday Inn Golden Gateway NZ$245
      Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

      Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

      1500 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Van Ness Avenue and The Regency Ballroom. San Francisco City Hall and Orpheum Theater are also within 1 mile (2 km). California St & Van Ness Ave Stop is only a 2-minute walk and California St & Polk St Stop is 2 minutes.

        Staypineapple, An Elegant Hotel, Union Square NZ$194
        Staypineapple, An Elegant Hotel, Union Square

        Staypineapple, An Elegant Hotel, Union Square

        580 Geary St, San Francisco, CA
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Grace Cathedral and Warfield Theater. Yerba Buena Gardens and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art are also within 15 minutes. Powell St & Geary Blvd Stop is only a 5-minute walk and Powell St & O'Farrell St Stop is 6 minutes.

          Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf NZ$246
          Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

          Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf

          2500 Mason St, San Francisco, CA
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square. Lombard Street and Alcatraz Island are also within 3 mi (5 km). Beach St & Mason St Stop is only a 2-minute walk and Jefferson St & Powell St Stop is 3 minutes.

            Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco NZ$264
            Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

            Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

            555 N Point St, San Francisco, CA
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in North Beach, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum, Ghirardelli Square and Lombard Street. Pier 39 and Van Ness Avenue are also within 15 minutes. Jones St and Beach St Stop and Beach St & Mason St Stop are within a 5-minute walk.

              The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square NZ$300
              The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

              The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

              335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Downtown San Francisco, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Union Square, SHN Curran Theatre, and Westfield San Francisco Centre. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Moscone Convention Center are also within 15 minutes. Powell St & Geary Blvd Stop and Powell St & Post St Stop are within a 2-minute walk.

                Chancellor Hotel on Union Square NZ$173
                Chancellor Hotel on Union Square

                Chancellor Hotel on Union Square

                433 Powell St, San Francisco, CA
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Moscone Convention Center. Ferry Building and Lombard Street are also within 2 mi (3 km). Powell St & Post St Stop and Powell St & Sutter St Stop are within a 2-minute walk.