Cable Cars, San Francisco
Cable Cars. A San Francisco icon. One trip costs $3.00, an all day pass costs $9.00. This is a rip off considering a bus or street car ride costs only $1.25. If you ride on a cable car, you most likely will be crammed onto it with dozens of other passengers, which can be pretty claustrophobic. Also they make such frequent stops that it takes forever to go from one place to another. Ride them once, just so you can say you did, but then find other ways of getting around.
Unique Suggestions: If you decide to ride the cable cars, get an all day pass.
Fun Alternatives: Ride the bus or walk! From the Powell Street station, it's only a few blocks to Chinatown or North Beach, so it makes more sense to walk.
The cable cars are a must do activity they are real fun but the turn around points get busy with people boarding.
Unique Suggestions: If you go on try going at other stops along the route after the turn around point here you will be able to catch a cable car quickly and also go ideally in winter more like november its not that cold and its not so busy.
In short they may not be the most practical way to get around, but cable cars are inextricably linked with the mythology of San Francisco.
Besides, the 9,600,000 tourists who ride the cars annually can't be wrong. Avoid the hour-plus wait at Powell and Market or the Wharf. It's much better to happen upon a cable car along its route than to endure the long lines of other tourists, sidewalk preachers, screamers and thieves.
Unique Suggestions: If you visit San Francisco you've gotta do the cable cars at least once...it's worth it! The drivers are entertaining and the peoples expressions are fun to watch and boy oh boy, the scenery is incredible from the cars. But watch out for the real sharp turns. The drivers don't slow down and it can catch you off guard.
There is usually a really long line waiting to board a cable car. And yes, the waiting can likely take more than an hour or so. Especially with the time gaps between the arrival of cable cars, it is tempting to cancel a cable car ride.
Unique Suggestions: Don't! Just be patient and be ready to wait, because you won't get to experience the cable cars anywhere else in the world. A trip to San Francisco is never complete without experiencing the famous cable cars.
When visitors come to San Francisco, they invariably stand either at Market or near Fisherman's Wharf to wait for a ride on the cable car. It's as if once you see a line, there is a magnet pulling you to the end. Everyone needs to travel on the cable car. It's a 'must-do'. No question about it. But why waste 45 min. to an hour just to do it.
Unique Suggestions: Perhaps it isn't widely known, but there aren't just two stops on the cable cars (the beginning and the end). The cars have typical bus-stop like points all along their route. These are areas where people can hop on and off the cable car. One such spot is at the top of Lombard Street. It's often a changing point for tourists getting on and off the cable car. Work your day so that you end up on top of Lombard and wait for the next trolley going towards the water. You can usually hop on here and ride down a huge hill overlooking the bay and Alcatraz. It is often so packed you are standing on the side hanging onto the raily so be prepared. But that might just be the best place to be anyway with the wind blowing through your hair and great views. (Whatever you do, don't expect to walk a couple of blocks away from the starting point and expect people to get off making room. Use some common sense.)
If you want to waste an hour of your valuable travel time waiting in long lines, then, by all means, catch the cable car at Market and Powell. If not, read on for an insider's tip.
Unique Suggestions: If you do NOT want to wait in long lines waiting for the cable car, then do what the locals do. Walk a few hilly blocks and just hop on the next cable car that comes along. This does not always work out during the peak tourist season, as not all cable cars will stop to let you on.
Fun Alternatives: A better alternative is to catch the California Street line anywhere between Market Street, at the Hyatt, and Van Ness Blvd. The lines are much shorter!
the streetcar rides, long lineups, but soooo worth it!! It's such a San Fransisco thing, but you gotta do it, one way at least. Its $2.00 US each way, but a cheap way to see some of the city and the unique buildings.
Cable cars are frequent attraction for visitors. They are also a lot of fun too. I took one and we almost got into an accident with a speeding taxi. Our cable car had to perform an emergency break, which resulted in jamming the car! The car was then stuck in the middle of an intersection, only few meters away from a steep downhill!
... But fun if you've never been on one.
Check out my transportation page to gain a "hopefully" usefull tip on cable cars.