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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 around Cable Car Museum


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Best Lodging Options Near Cable Car Museum

See all 1,445 Properties near Cable Car Museum
Holiday Inn Golden Gateway $129
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 Lombard Street are also within 1 mi (2 km). California St & Van Ness Ave Stop is only a 2-minute walk and California St & Polk St Stop is 2 minutes.

    Fairmont San Francisco
    Fairmont San Francisco

    Fairmont San Francisco

    950 Mason Street Atop Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA
       
      5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      This family-friendly San Francisco hotel is located in the historical district, within a 10-minute walk of Grace Cathedral and SHN Curran Theatre. TransAmerica Pyramid and Westfield San Francisco Centre are also within 15 minutes. California St & Mason St Stop is only a 2-minute walk and California St & Taylor St Stop is 2 minutes.

      Hilton San Francisco Financial District $99
      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.

        Grand Hyatt San Francisco Union Square
        Grand Hyatt San Francisco Union Square

        Grand Hyatt San Francisco Union Square

        345 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown San Francisco, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of SHN Curran Theatre, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Westfield San Francisco Centre. Warfield Theater and Golden Gate Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Powell St & Sutter St Stop and Powell St & Post St Stop are within a 5-minute walk.

          Huntington Hotel $202
          Huntington Hotel

          Huntington Hotel

          1075 California St, 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 Grace Cathedral and Cable Car Museum. Pier 39 and Oracle Park are also within 3 mi (5 km). California St & Taylor St Stop and California St & Mason St Stop are within a 2-minute walk.

            Stanford Court San Francisco $188
            Stanford Court San Francisco

            Stanford Court San Francisco

            905 California Street, 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 Cable Car Museum. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Coit Tower are also within 1 mi (2 km). California St & Powell St Stop and California St & Mason St Stop are within a 2-minute walk.

              Staypineapple, An Elegant Hotel, Union Square $117
              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.

                Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco $169
                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.