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Though currently no more than a series of cute shops in a great location, Ghirardelli Square was ahead of its time when in 1964, the former site of Italian immigrant Domingo Ghirardelli’s success story chocolate factory, was recycled into a shopping mall. The atmospheric brick building at least looks like a structure that would be in the Wharf area around the turn of the century and besides who can resist tasting the city’s great chocolate in such a setting.
- Historical Travel
- Food and Dining
Ghirardelli Square - the chocolate factory
Many people know about Fisherman's Wharf,
but just up the hill at the west end is a place
that I like better, Ghirardelli Square. It was once
a chocolate factory & is now a beautiful area
of shops and restaurants. From McCormick
and Kuleto's Seafood Restaurant , you will
have a lovely view of the bay. For dessert, you
can go to the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Parlor and
Chocolate Store for a hot fudge sundie & a
delicious box of chocolates to take home.
for chocolate fans
We visited Ghiraldelli square just because we wanted to taste the famous Chocolate store. The square took its name of Domingo Ghirardelli that took the square in 1893 and made here the base for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. You can still see the big signs with the factory’s name but the company moved to San Leandro in the 60s but although the first plan for the square was to turn into an apartment building it became a complex of restaurant and shops. One of them is the Ghirardelli Chocolate store with lot of nice chocolates in many sizes and shapes.
Anyway, some of the chocolate samples we tasted were good and also the famous icecream sundaes from the ice cream shop which was great but we got disappointed of the surrounded area, as I said it is just full of shops and restaurants. We had our breakfast at Lori’s Diner, we enjoyed the view and continued walking east towards Pier 39. If you are short on time there’s no reason to come here but it was ok for us that wanted to buy a box of chocolates and visit the National Maritime Museum which is near.
We always seem to manage to show friends Ghirardelli Square since it’s on the way from Fisherman’s Warf to the start of the Cable car. There is always something going on here, plus they always seem to be giving away chocolate samples,
This National Historic Landmark property dates from 1864, when it served as a factory making Civil War uniforms, but it's best known as the former chocolate and spice factory of Domingo Ghirardelli. The factory has since been converted into a three-level mall containing 50-plus stores and 11 dining establishments. Scheduled street performers entertain regularly in the West Plaza and fountain area.
A clock tower, an exact replica of the one at France's Château de Blois, crowns the complex. Inside the tower, on the mall's plaza level, is the fun Ghirardelli soda fountain. It still makes and sells small amounts of chocolate, but the big draw is the old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. (Got a late-night craving? The place stays open until midnight on Fri and Sat. Visitors can ask for a free walking- tour map at the information booth at the west end of Fountain Plaza, and discount visitor passes are available from the Square's Website. The tour is a self-guided trip through the Square which gives you a glimpse of history from a geographical point of view. Many national chain stores are located here. The hottest attraction, however, is restaurant Ana Mandara. Main plaza shops' and restaurants' hours vary, with extended hours during the summer.
Most of the redbrick buildings in this early-20th-century complex were part of the Ghirardelli chocolate factory. Now they house name-brand emporiums, tourist-oriented restaurants, and galleries that sell everything from crafts and knickknacks to sports memorabilia. Placards throughout the square describe the factory's history.
A Chocolate Lover's Delight!
The world famous Ghiradelli Square is a mecca for the true chocolate lover, though just for the record the square is not actually made of chocolate, though it might as well be as there is a Ghiradelli chocolate shop and ice cream parlor that serves decadent ice cream treats smothered in Ghiradelli's finest. For those who aren't big chocolate lovers there are other places in the square that are not chocolate related like McCormicks Seafood which overlooks the bay and has excellent seafood dishes. The Square itself is beautifully done and of course is highlighted by the easily recognizable Ghiradelli sign that towers over the square. Located just a few blocks away from Fishermen's Wharf the locations is hard to beat as well. There is also a park and small beach in front of the Square.
At the far western end of Fisherman's Wharf, you'll find this old woollen mill that was purchased by Domenico Ghiradelli who used it as a manufacturing base for his delicious chocolate empire. Today, it's a large commercial space with lots of shops and of course, a Ghiradelli shop to buy some chocolates.
A retail complex overlooking the bay, Ghirardelli Square features shopping, galleries, and restaurants.
The most popular highlight of the square is it's namesake, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory and Soda Fountain. You can tour the manufactory or just treat yourself to a hot fudge sundae. There was a long line to get a sundae, but an employee was at the door handing out free samples of the chocolate bars :-)
- Family Travel
Chocalate anyone at Ghirardelli
Here are you can view the making of dark brown chocolate of Ghirardelli fame while eating some. There are many great shops and galleries and restaurants waiting to be discovered inside the Square and building.
Here is the story behind this chocolate factory from the official webiste:
"Domingo Ghirardelli - Born in Rapallo, Italy in 1817, Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli learned about the confectionery and chocolate trade by the time he was 20. Uruguay and Peru were the first places he set up shop -- but tales of the Gold Rush were irresistible. In 1848, Domingo's neighbor, James Lick, packed up $25,000, 600 pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate and sailed for the San Francisco Bay. A year later, Domingo followed him through the Golden Gate. "
Ghirardelli Square was once a chocolate factory, it has three levels of shops and restaurants including, of course, the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Store. People hang out here by the fountain after walking up and down through the shops.
It used to be a chocolate factory. They still sell Ghirardelli chocolates all around. This place is near Fisherman's Wharf. There's a nice fountain and some shops. If you don't have lots of time don't bother going.
Attention Chocolate Lovers!
OK, maybe this isn't necessarily a "must see" for everyone visiting San Francisco - but it is a "must see" for CHOCOLATE LOVERS visiting San Francisco!
Ghirardelli Square may impart a bit of that touristy feel (same one you get when you're at Fisherman's Wharf) but you can console yourself by knowing that you are standing in front of a series of preserved and restored buildings that are on the National Historic Register.
That, plus the great views you have of the City and the Bay - are only topped off by a trip into the chocolate factory itself where you can see the chocolate being made (by the way, Domenico Ghirardelli patented something known as the "Broma Process" - a process to make dry, powdered chocolate - the first of its kind in the confectionary industry).
If you have a moment, drop by the official website to learn more about the man who started the Ghirardelli empire and how it has evolved from the Gold Rush Days.
Leave Room for Ice Cream at Ghiradelli Square
While at Ghiradelli Square, you must visit the sweet shop. In addition to a huge selection of Ghiradelli chocolate bars and other treats, the adjacent restaurant has many huge ice cream creations. The hardest part after choosing what to order is to actually finish eating your dessert!!
The Domingo Ghirardelli family produced chocolate here from 1893 until the early 1960s. Now Ghirardelli Square is the finest of the warehouse malls in San Francisco, with great views of the bay, landscaped gardens, and 60 shops and restaurants, including a don't-miss classic ice-cream parlor.
- Wine Tasting
- Hiking and Walking
Ghirardelli Square is the home of Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli's chocolate factory which began in San Francisco around 1849. The Ghirardellis purchased the area now known as Ghirardelli Square in 1893, and the buildings at the site were constructed between 1899 and 1915. When Ghirardelli Chocolates was bought out and moved to San Leandro, local businessmen bought the square and converted it to retail shops and restaurants in 1964. This is widely considered the first adaptive reuse project in the US.
Ghirardelli Square is a one square block complex of shops and restaurants at the north end of Fisherman’s Wharf. The square was once the headquarters for the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Now it houses a set of boutique shops and restaurants including a retail store that sells the Ghirardelli chocolate brand. It now has National Historic Landmark status.