More about Ghirardelli Square

Works at Ghirardelli Square

Sr. Editor

If the name Ghirardelli sounds familiar, that’s because it’s San Francisco's own Willy Wonka chocolate factory.

The entire city block was purchased in 1893 by Domingo Ghirardelli to build his chocolate factory. YUM. In 1965 it was declared an official city landmark and placed on the National Historic Register in 1982.

The large lighted Ghirardelli sign, measuring 25 feet high and 165 feet long, was erected in 1915. During World War II it was turned off for blackouts and remained off until 1964 when the square was reopened.

Ghirardelli Square is located in the super touristy Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco.

As a local all I can say is stay away unless you’re showing tourists around and they insist. If you are dragged there, get a free piece of chocolate inside the Ghirardelli shop or buy a yummy hot chocolate to warm you up on what is probably a foggy day.

Things to avoid:

  • The kitschy stores that are all selling the exact same cheap sweatshirt to those of you who didn't check the weather.

  • Duck Tours and other tourist buses are pretty much unnecessary. San Francisco's publis transportation can get you to all of the same places (and better places) for way cheaper and you can get advice from people whose jobs don't rely on you being ignorant about how the city works.

  • Bad Elmo. There's a guy dressed up in an Elmo costume that walks around yelling racial slurs and other profanities, if you don't feel like subjecting yourself to this don't take a picture with or of him and walk away quickly. 

Things to do:

  • The Musee Mecanique is an awesome collection of old penny arcade games and machines. Grab a big bag of change and have a great date night here. 

  • Go to Boudin Bakery for a tour of the bread factory and lots of samples! The yeast used to make the sourdough bread was cultivated from the San Francisco fog and doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square is a landmark public square with shops and restaurants and a 5-star hotel in the Marina area of San Francisco, California. A portion of the area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 as Pioneer Woolen Mills and D. Ghirardelli Company.

The square once featured over 40 specialty shops and restaurants. Some of the original shops and restaurants still occupy the square.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Ghirardelli Square