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Key Info

Price & Hours

$7 for one-way ride; $23 for one-day pass
Hours vary

Details

Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Chances are you've seen a television show, movie, postcard or some type of San Francisco memorabilia emblazoned with the city's iconic cable car or trolley. So of course, to fully experience San Francisco's charm, you should hop on board. San Francisco's cable car system is the last of its kind in the United States, given the title of a National Historic Landmark in 1964. The cable car was conceived after Andrew Smith Hallidie, an immigrant from England, witnessed an accident involving a horse-drawn buggy trying to climb a steep San Francisco hill and failing. His father had a patent for wire rope in England and he used that to design a transportation system that relied on just that. Thus, cable cars were born in the late 1800s. 

Though cable cars are seldom used by locals (due in part to their small travel network and high fare), tourists flock to them in droves. More than nine million visitors ride the cable cars each year, and according to recent travelers, it's easy to see why. Tourists had a blast riding the cable cars up and down San Francisco's vibrant streets. Many say the way to get the most out of your cable car experience is to ride hanging out of the vehicle. Even though some said they encountered long lines to board, the majority of visitors believe the wait to be worth the experience. Though if you're not one for long lines, some say to board at one of the stops along the line instead at the beginning. 

You can catch the cable cars from a few spots around town, including the famous Powell-Hyde Line at Powell and Market streets, which passes the twisty Lombard Street and the equally popular Russian Hill neighborhood. Relative to other forms of transportation, the cable cars are a bit expensive at $7 for a one-way ride, so some travelers suggest buying a one-day pass for $23 (also good for unlimited rides on Muni, Muni Metro and streetcars). Visitors can also purchase three-day and seven-day passes, which cost $34 and $45, respectively. To save even more money on one-, three-, and seven-day passes, purchase your passes via the transportation agency's app, MuniMobile. Via the mobile app, one-day passes cost $12, three-day passes cost $29, and seven-day passes cost $39. For more information on routes and stops, visit the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's website.

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#1 California Academy of Sciences

Attention all traveling families: recent visitors said this is the perfect place to bring kids in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences brims with plenty of things to see, including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and even a rainforest. 

The Steinhart Aquarium is home to about 40,000 animals representing more than 900 different species, including a penguin colony from Africa, a swamp with an albino alligator, a shark lagoon and a separate 100,000-gallon tank that mirrors the ecosystem of the California coast. Meanwhile, the Osher Rainforest houses 1,600 animals, including 250 free-flying birds and about 100 reptiles and amphibians in its four-story complex. The Morrison Planetarium is known for its 75-foot-diameter screen, which screens "Tour of the Universe" shows daily. And the Kimball Natural History Museum boasts dinosaur fossils, an interactive science exhibit and a unique earthquake simulator. 

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