Cable car tours are one of the iconic San Francisco experiences that aren’t easily duplicated elsewhere, just like a cruise to Alcatraz or a tasty treat at Ghirardelli Square. It’s not every day you get the chance to ride in a National Historic Landmark, unless you’re in the City by the Bay. Today, three cable car lines run through the streets of San Francisco, each refurbished for passenger comfort and safety.
The first cable cars rolled into service in 1873, and ever since then, locals have used the cars to get to where they need to go and visitors have been hopping aboard them for cable car tours. This tradition continues today; every year more than 9 million people ride the cable cars that reach a top speed of nine miles per hour. If you’re curious about the history of these rolling landmarks, you’ll enjoy a visit to the San Francisco Cable Car Barn & Museum. This Nob Hill museum is home to a trio of vintage cable cars and offers the chance to see the equipment that powers the entire line.
Many of the local tour companies include a ride on a cable car on their menu of tour options. In any old city, you can talking walking tours or go by bus, but in San Francisco, you have this other cool option. Trolley tours can take you to some of the collection attractions in the city, where you can continue your tour. The trolleys can take you right to Pier 39, where you could spend the better part of the day exploring. After doing some shopping, checking out the sea lions, and taking a whirl on the carousel, you can hop back on the cable car and head to the next leg of the tour. Pier 39 is also the starting point for harbor tours and cruises, which combines nicely with cable car tours and guided walking tours.