As a solo traveler, exploring new destinations and experiencing different modes of transportation can make your journey even more exciting. From historic cable cars and funiculars to modern gondolas and aerial trams, there are plenty of options to choose from in the United States. In this guide, we’ve highlighted ten of the best cable cars and funiculars that solo travelers can enjoy in different cities across the country. Let’s take a closer look at each of them!
San Francisco: The Iconic Cable Cars
If you’re visiting San Francisco, you cannot miss out the city’s iconic cable cars that operate on three lines that cover some of the popular areas in the city such as Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. The cable cars are a part of San Francisco’s rich history and should be an essential experience for solo travelers. In 1873, the city was the first place in the world to open a transit system operated by cables running beneath the street. Although the cable cars can get crowded, they still offer breathtaking views of the city’s hills while being transported up and down the hilly streets.
Seattle: The Queen Anne Hill Funicular
The Queen Anne Hill Funicular in Seattle is a unique way to reach one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, Queen Anne Avenue. Also known as the Counterbalance, this funicular came into operation in 1901 and has been operating since then. The views of Seattle from the funicular are the highlight of the journey. Passengers are offered a magnificent view of the Space Needle, the city skyline, and Puget Sound. The ride itself is pleasant and short, making it a must-do when in town as a solo traveler.
Los Angeles: The Angels Flight Railway
Los Angeles’ Angels Flight Railway is the shortest railway in the world and goes up and down Bunker Hill. This funicular was reopened to the public in 2017 and has since been a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. The railway takes riders past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, like City Hall and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The trip is short, but it offers the opportunity to appreciate LA’s landscape from different perspectives. It is a beloved piece of LA history that is sure to make a unique experience for solo travelers.
Pittsburgh: The Duquesne Incline
The Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh is a wonderful funicular that goes up and down the steep slope of Mount Washington while offering great views of the Pittsburgh skyline and rivers. The cars themselves date back to the late 1800s and are considered historical landmarks. While taking the ride, solo travelers can learn about the town’s history, enjoy the scenic views of the city, and hike to the top of the mountain.
Portland: The Portland Aerial Tram
The Portland Aerial Tram is a modern funicular that ascends between the South Waterfront district and Marquam Hill. This tram offers a fantastic view of the city, especially on a sunny day. Oregon Health & Science University is one of the top hospitals in the area, and it can easily be accessed from the tram, making it a convenient way to move around the city. The breathtaking views of the greenery and the city complemented by the skyscrapers are almost surreal.
New York City: The Roosevelt Island Tramway
The Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City primarily serves as a public transportation system that offers a unique way to experience the city. The tram takes passengers from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and back, offering stunning views of the East River and Midtown Manhattan. It’s a great spot to view the city skyline and to click some Instagram-worthy pictures. Riding solo on the tram gives you ample time to soak in the ambiance and enjoy the views.
Chicago: The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel in Chicago is a colossal wonder that can accommodate 180 passengers in the 42 gondola-like cabs. While this Ferris wheel might not be a funicular or cable car, it is still an excellent way to get a unique view of the city from over 150 feet off the ground. A trip on the Ferris wheel is delightful, and the views of Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan are breathtaking, making it a must-do activity for solo travelers.
Aspen: The Silver Queen Gondola
The Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen is a cable car that takes passengers up to the top of Aspen Mountain. The gondola ride is 18 minutes long, and it offers stunning views of the Rockies and the town of Aspen. The ride is a peaceful and relaxing experience. Once at the mountain’s top, solo travelers can enjoy hiking, dining, and other mountain activities such as enjoying a bird’s eye view of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
San Diego: The Balboa Park Tram
The Balboa Park Tram in San Diego is a sleek and convenient way to move around one of the popular attractions in the city. This tram operates within Balboa Park, taking passengers from one court of the park to the other, reducing walking time and eliminating the need for rental transportation. The ride is scenic, passing through different gardens and landscapes within the park, making it a great spot for nature lovers and solace seekers.
Portland: The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway
The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway in Oregon is a must-do drive for solo travelers seeking scenic landscapes. The road winds through the Columbia River Gorge, offering stunning views of waterfalls, forests, and mountains. There are plenty of hiking trails and scenic overlooks along the way, making it a great day trip from Portland. The road offers a picturesque ambience, as you drive along the Columbia River, which is visible from the road.