san francisco powell market cable car
San Francisco
City Center
Cable cars - Cable cars were invented in San Francisco in 1873, and taking the kids for a ride on the cable cars is a "must do." It's an exhilarating sensation as the cable car grinds up the steep hills, reaches the top, then slowly descends. If you really listen, you can hear the cables "humming" under the streets of San Francisco.
At the corner of Powell and Market St. is the cable car turn around. Here you can pick up two cable car lines – Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason. Both lines go to Fisherman's Wharf.
Tip: Use Clipper Card on the cable cars.
Cable Car Barn and Museum - If you're riding the cable cars to Fisherman's Wharf, be sure to stop off en route at the Cable Car Museum, where kids can see the winding machinery for the "endless" cables in action! Watch the huge wheels turn the cables that the move under the street (the cars grip the cable to go, let go to stop). This free museum also has cable car models, vintage cable cars, old photos and a gift shop( good selection of cable car souvenirs).
Union Square - Union Square started out as a sand dune, was dedicated a public park in 1850, and was named "Union Square" on the eve of the Civil War. The square, with grassy spots and cafes, is the perfect place to sit and relax.
Ice rink – In December, look for a large Christmas tree and ice skating rink, kids skates are available for rent.
Westin St. Francis – Every year in the hotel lobby, Westin St. Francis has a sugar Christmas tree, with elves, presents and toy trains.
Nob Hill - In the 19th century, wealthy businessmen built mansions on Nob Hill. Today it's a quiet residential neighborhood with hotels, accessible by cable car.
Fairmont Hotel San Francisco - In December, the Fairmont Hotel has a lovely Christmas display in the lobby, with large decorated Christmas tree and gingerbread house, snowmen and fluffy white bears, toy trains running round and round.
Huntington Park - You can ride the California St. cable car or hike up to Nob Hill - it's good exercise. At the top, there's stately Huntington Park, with a charming fountain, playground with swings, play structure and sandbox.
California St. cable car- Ride the California St. cable car up to Nob Hill. California Street cable car runs from the Embarcadero (next to Hyatt Regency hotel) up Nob Hill to Van Ness St., then turns around and comes back. Hop on and off any time on California St.
Grace Cathedral -
Step into Grace Cathedral, filled with glowing colors. Although not centuries old, the cathedral has high vaulted ceilings, rose window, and style of Gothic churches like Notre Dame in France. The bronze doors to the cathedral are replicas of bronze "Gate of Paradise" doors at the Baptistery in Florence.
Inside the church are lovely stained glass windows, some with contemporary themes and famous people, murals depicting scenes from San Francisco's, history and altar made from Sierra Nevada granite and California redwood.
During December, the cathedral is beautifully decorated, and lit up at night. Check out schedule of Christmas concerts.
Cathedral is open daily, Sunday afternoon only. Ask for children's map and treasure hunt when you buy admission tickets, kids under 12 are free.
Asian Art Museum - San Francisco has always had a vibrant Asian community, and this museum is a super introduction to the arts and cultures of Asia. Check out Japanese suits of armor, swords and masks, guardian lions squishing their enemies, Chinese ceramic horses and camels, Bronze Age daggers and bells, Javanese puppets and krises, sculptures from Hindu temples in India (especially Shiva the destroyer, waving his many arms and surrounded by a lots of demons). And don't miss one of our favorites, a 3,000 year old bronze rhinoceros!
Historic Streetcars - The historic streetcars, the F line, are another way to see San Francisco. Market Street was once bustling with streetcars, and today kids get a little history as you ride down Market, to the Ferry Building, along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf. The F line operates vintage streetcars that used to run in San Francisco, as well has other U.S. and foreign cities. On Market St., look for old fashioned streetcars in orange, green, blue and yellow, maroon and black, and hop on!
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