This is where the engines that drive the cables for the cable cars are located. For geeky kids (and parents), see pre-computer, mechanical stuff.
Buy a Muni 1 ($11), 3 ($18) or 7-day ($24) visitor passport for unlimited rides on cable cars, streetcars (trams), trolleybuses and diesel buses, but not BART. Regular fare is $2 (Cable Car is $5).
If you're 65 or older, show your driver's license, ID or passport as proof of age and buy a Muni monthly Senior Pass ($15).
Muni's visitor passport and Senior Pass can be purchased at their kiosk (looks like a cable car) at the Powell-Market cable car turntable. You can also buy a Muni 2-for-1 street and transit map for $3 there.
Muni is the nickname of the San Francisco Municipal Railway, America's oldest public-owned large city public transit system (1912) and probably the last to call itself a railway.
Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway)
Phone: 311 (within San Francisco)
1 (415) 701-2323 (outside San Francisco)
It is like rollercoaster ride and offers sensational views. My tips would be to (1) get there early in the day and (2) avoid being fleeced by the guys who hang around Powell purporting to sell tickets, but then slink off with your money into Burger King! You buy the tickets ON THE CAR. Don't make my mistake.
The world's last surviving cable car powerhouse and carbarn (1887) houses a free cable car museum.
In addition to historic cable cars (including an original 1873 cable car), displays, informational video and souvenirs, you can watch and hear the motors and sheave wheels moving the cables underneath the three remaining cable car lines of one of America's few moving National Historic Landmarks (1964).
1201 Mason St (at Washington St), Nob Hill, San Francisco;
tel: (415) 474 1887
To get there ride Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde cable cars to Washington and Mason car stop;
Take a trip around the bay in a small boat. Walk along the seafront toawards the Golden Gate Bridge from Fishermans Wharf. Along the harbour there are many smaller ex-fishing boats. These are much better than the larger ferry-like boats available. Not only are they cheaper, the trip is longer and much more personal. You even get to go under the Golden Gate Bridge, which you don't in the larger ships.
Walk along Fishermans Wharf towards the Golden Gate Bridge.
Right beside Powell Station on Market there is a little hut selling tickets for the old cable cars. If you buy a one-day or multi-trip MUNI ticket you can ride on the old trams, buses and new trams operated by MUNI. Saves walking up all those hills! I think it was $11 a day but well worth it if you are on foot.
May also be available in nearby shops.
OK, it's tacky and touristy, but it's fab. Hang on to the side while you race down toward the Bay, or better still, late at night shooting down California Street. Better than a fairground ride.
There are cable car turnarounds at the bottom of California Street and at the bottom of Powell Street;
Cable cars are handy but also a lot of fun, so jump on even if you’re not going anywhere in particular. Although the queues at Powell St turnaround can be off-putting, they move quite quickly - if you try to get on at the next stop often the cars come already full.
Great for getting from San Francisco to your hotel if you're centrally located. The BART is San Francisco’s underground system and covers (as it says in name) most of the bay area.
Depending on your arrival time it’s really easy to get the BART to the centre of the city. This will save forking out $40 on a cab.
Once you arrive at the airport and have picked up your bags follow the BART signs. Trains run every 15 minutes and you can buy single tickets from the machine for $4.95. All you need to do then is get off at Powell Station for Union Square. Believe me, I'm a cab fiend but this was easy and makes you feel less touristy.
The hotel can get you cabs when you depart to the airport and it takes around 30 - 45 minutes to get there.
By all means, take the boat trip out into the Golden Gate and under the bridge, but the best way to experience the bridge is on a bike. There are lots of bike hire shops down by Fisherman's Wharf - shop around, because some are cheaper than those nearest the waterfront. Some also offer a “Bike and Alcatraz" package, which may appeal if you can't get your hands on an Alcatraz ticket (they book up around a week in advance during summer). Maps, directions and ferry times provided by the bike shops.
The bike trail is almost entirely off the road and is a great way to see the Marina district and the waterfront. The bike lane on the bridge is separate from the traffic too, and the views of the bridge towers and the city are superb.
Coast down into Sausalito for lunch (a bit pricey - take a snack with you), then take the ferry back across to San Francisco. More superb city views, especially Coit Tower.
Fantastic experience: 20mins or so training on a segway, then about 2hrs travelling on it, seeing parts of SF you otherwise might not (away from centre). The Segway is a unique, very interesting and very easy to use mode of transport. The staff are very helpful and nice to be with. A bit pricey - 65 dollars each, plus you are expected to slip the tour guide 5 or 10 dollars.
Beach Street, near Hyde. 30 Bus from downtown (get off at North Point and Hyde), or take Powell Street cable car to end. www.sfelectrictour.com/
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