5 Things you need to know before Riding the Cable Cars in San Francisco

 The cable cars in San Francisco are the only moving historical site in the nation.  Not surprisingly they are a huge tourist attraction and draw long lines of people waiting to get on including me.  After riding the cable car I have a few tips to share to make the most out of your experience.

1. Jump on the cable car at Bay station

There are three lines that make up the street cars in San Francisco, two that are North to South and one that runs East to West.  The majority of people like to ride the ones heading north towards the Fishermen Wharf making the Powell stop near Union Square where both of the lines start a very busy stop.  Therefore, if you are looking to hop on quickly than opt to take the ride back on the Powell/Hyde line leaving from Bay.

2. Ride the cable car Doris Day style on the side if you want a good view

Since the cable cars are so popular they get packed in by the controllers.  Even if you are sitting on one of the side benches looking out, your view will quickly become obstructed by those standing in from of you.  On my ride I literally saw NOTHING.  It was so disappointing…

3. Make sure your hands are free if you ride on the side of the cable car and your electronics tied

Since the best way to see anything riding a cable car is standing on the side, it’s really important you are not carrying a bunch of bags in your hands.  It’s such a tight squeeze that you want to keep one hand free to hold on for a slightly bumpy ride and the other to hold on to you phone/camera to get some great shots.  I was actually fascinated by people who were just holding their phones out… I wonder how many people drop them on a daily basis outside of the moving cable car… ? Ideally, have it strapped on to your body in some way… just saying!


4. Take photos while the cable cars are stationary

If you want a nice photo on the cable cars than the best time to take them is while they are waiting for their turn to board people.  The employees are really nice about letting you get on and snap a few pics without worrying about falling off or losing your camera.

5. Expect to wait if you want to get on the cable car en route

Again, since they are such a popular attraction many people line up to get on board at the starting points of the lines.  If you are planning on jumping on board the cable cars in mid-transit plan to wait a little bit (especially if you are more than one person) to get on since the next car might not have any space for you.

For more Information

Tickets are available as single fares or daily passes.  Check out the San Francisco Cable Cars website for fare prices, maps, and history.

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