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The Charm of San Francisco’s Hyde Street Cable Car and Turnaround

San Francisco’s iconic cable cars offer more than just a mode of transportation; they provide a journey back in time, combining the thrill of historic travel with unparalleled views of the city. Among these, the Hyde Street Cable Car and its Turnaround at Fisherman’s Wharf stand out as quintessential experiences for any visitor to the City by the Bay.

A Journey Through History

The cable car system, a relic of the 19th century, has become synonymous with San Francisco’s cultural and historical landscape. The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines serve Fisherman’s Wharf, connecting the bustling waterfront with the heart of downtown at Powell and Market Streets. This enduring symbol of San Francisco’s ingenuity was established to conquer the city’s notorious hills, and today, it remains one of the few manually operated cable car systems in the world.

Did you know?

      1. The San Francisco cable car system is the world’s last manually operated cable car network, a distinction that underscores its historical significance and charm.
      2. At the Hyde Street Turnaround, visitors can witness the fascinating process of cable cars being manually turned around on a wooden platform, a practice unchanged since the late 1800s.
      3. The cable cars are not just a tourist attraction but a moving National Historic Landmark, recognized for their contribution to the city’s heritage.

Today’s Vibrant Ride

Riding the Hyde Street Cable Car offers a unique perspective of San Francisco, from the scenic vistas at Aquatic Park near Ghirardelli Square to the bustling atmosphere of Union Square. Along the way, riders are treated to sights of Lombard Street, Russian Hill, and glimpses of Alcatraz Island across the sparkling waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Fisherman’s Wharf is served by two cable car lines: the Powell-Hyde line on Hyde and Beach Streets (Aquatic Park near Ghirardelli Square), and the Powell-Mason line on Taylor and Bay Streets (middle of Fisherman’s Wharf area, a few blocks from Pier 45 at Taylor and Bay Street).

Both lines run between Fisherman’s Wharf and Powell and Market Streets in Union Square. You can view a detailed schedule and route map of the Powell-Hyde cable car line here; the Powell-Mason cable car schedule and route map can be viewed here.

Info Courtesy SFMTA 

Riding Cable Cars

It’s easy to find and board a cable car. Choose from three cable car lines – two start at Powell and Market and continue to the Fisherman’s Wharf area; one starts at California and Market and continues to Van Ness Avenue. Board at the cable car turntables (the beginning or end of each route) or look for the brown-and-white cable car sign post.

Cable Car Tips

  • Our city’s busy streets and steep hills can make for an exciting ride. Hold on tight. If you’re holding onto the special poles on the outside of the car as you stand, please don’t lean outward.
  • When exiting, wait until the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Then check the street nearby as you step out. Stop, look and listen carefully before crossing cable car intersections. Please remember that the green “X” traffic signal is the “go ahead” signal for cable cars, not pedestrians.
  • Full-size bicycles and folding bikes are not permitted aboard cable cars. Check out other Muni routes if you’re traveling with your bike.
  • Service animals are encouraged to ride in the interior section of the cable car, either on their owner’s lap or as far out of the aisle as possible. If riding on the exterior sections of the cable car, service animals must be on their owner’s lap.
  • Cable cars are not equipped with accessible boarding.

Buying Tickets

Other payment options:

    • MuniMobile: The SFMTA’s official ticketing app, MuniMobile lets you buy tickets instantly through a credit/debit card, PayPal account, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
    • Clipper Card: Clipper is the all-in-one transit card for the Bay Area. Use your Clipper card on all major Bay Area transit systems, including Muni.
    • Cash: Exact change is required.
    • Please visit the Fares page for all cable car ticket details.

Embarking on a ride aboard the Hyde Street Cable Car is not just about getting from point A to point B; it’s about experiencing a piece of living history, feeling the wind rush past as you ascend San Francisco’s legendary hills, and seeing the city from a perspective like no other. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, the cable car offers a timeless adventure through the heart of San Francisco.

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