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“Awesome free museum!”
Review of Cable Car Museum

Cable Car Museum
Ranked #21 of 716 things to do in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: A museum to San Francisco's beloved cable cars, with a subterranean walkway that lets you see the moving cable.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed 6 April 2018

This is my second time to the museum. The first time was probably 25 years ago. I really couldn’t remember much since it was so long ago, so really enjoyed getting to go through it again. It is a free museum which is really appreciated with how expensive everything is in San Francisco. When you enter, go up the stairs on the right to the main section of the museum and look down to view the spinning cables for all three of the current lines. To the left of that is a container for donations. Please help the museum continue to be free for all by making an optional donation (there is no pressure to make one by museum staff). We really enjoyed doing a quick walk around the museum, reading the history, and seeing all the vintage equipment. I’m not sure how long we were there but it was probably less than an hour as the museum is really small. After viewing the top floor and gift shop, the bottom floor is where you can see the sheave. It’s a really interesting museum for history buffs and those that like vintage items. Be sure to check hours online before you go as they are slightly different from April 1 through September 30 and October 1 through March 31. They are open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank Brenda S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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185 - 189 of 3,453 reviews

Reviewed 5 April 2018

Never imaginationed that one long continuous cable under the street could make these things go. Very interesting and it is free.

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank LakeLodge454
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 April 2018

Not just a museum (although it's that, with historical information about the cable cars as well as notable San Francisco events, such as the great earthquake and fire), but an actual working machine shop and the source of the cable cars' locomotion. The cables that power every single cable car converge in this building. You can watch them turning around the "sheaves" (big wheels) aboveground and even go downstairs to see where they enter the building. It's amazing! And free/donation based. I've heard complaints about the gift shop, but we had no problems, having made a very small purchase (postcard), and with a friendly interaction with the staff.

Well worth a detour!

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank BlairConrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 April 2018

I had covered some San Francisco municipal transportation, with visits to the San Francisco Railway Museum (two times), but had never been to the Cable Car Museum, until our stay on Nob Hill, right beside the California St Cable Car Line, in early March. I am glad that I did.

While I have ridden the Cable Cars, and on two of the lines, I had never been to this museum, and our stay on Nob Hill made that easy. Also, with my wife in business meetings, I needed to get out and see some new sites in San Francisco, a city that we visit monthly, and sometimes, more often – but always on business.

Now, there are major differences between the famous San Francisco Cable Cars, and the Streetcars/trolleys, which ply Market St, and The Embarcadero. Some folk confuse the two, because they feature historic rolling stock. Other than being transportation conveyances, and from the same period in time, they are very different, and the Cable Car Museum points those out clearly.

The main difference is the use of a network of cables, which allow the Cable Cars to climb (and descend) the hills of San Francisco. The Streetcars operate on flat terrain, and are run by electrical motors, deriving power from electrified overhead lines. They once served the same purpose, but now the San Francisco Cable Cars are more of a tourist attraction (and a great one), while the Market St Streetcars, are still part of the municipal transportation system.

This museum demystifies the workings of the Cable Car system, and in easy to understand ways. It also traces the history of these iconic attractions - so iconic, that they are featured in logos for San Francisco, some local products, and then memorialized in countless photographs. Only the Golden Gate Bridge comes close.

For me, the engineering of the system, and the history, were the major draws, but even if one has no interest in those aspects, there is so very much to see, and to learn. I would highly recommend that anyone in San Francisco (visitor or local) take the time to experience this museum – and then, go out and ride one of San Francisco’s famous Cable Cars!

Date of experience: March 2018
1  Thank The_Loup_Garou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 31 March 2018

We took a day to explore and popped into this museum. Wow! It is so very interesting; especially if you visit the museum after you ride one. It really is fascinating.

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank squishey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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