In 1852, Domingo Ghiradelli founded the Ghiradelli chocolate company in San Francisco. In 1893, he purchased this entire city block in order to turn it into his company's headquarters. It grew quickly and was moved to San Leandro in the 1960s. It was one of the largest independently owned chocolate brands in the United States until it was purchased by the Swiss company Lindt in the 1990s.
Ghirardelli Square still pays homage to its chocolate roots, even though the company that gave it its namesake has long since moved on. The Ghirardelli sign that rests above the old headquarters is still intact and large enough to be seen from many a vantage point in the city. It has been preserved as a historic landmark so that it can be enjoyed by all, while at the same time paying homage to one of the city's best-known entrepreneurs.
The square's brick buildings have been preserved but converted into shops and restaurants without destroying the structures. The smell of chocolate still manages to permeate the area, with many of the shops devoted to this sweet. The Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Ice Cream shop boasts the best ice-cream sundaes in the world--and I would be inclined to agree, having yet to taste any better. There are many places where you can buy Ghirardelli chocolate in the square today as well if you would like to bring some home as a souvenir.
There are many shops, galleries, and restaurants so that all travelers in your party will find something to please them. There are plenty of cute gift shops here, so you can load up on unique and original items from your trip for gifts or as mementos.
Ghirardelli Square is a great place to visit since this is a historic sight that has a fair share of charm and whimsy. The shops and restaurants do not interfere with the square's historic vibe, but make the square even more bustling with activity. On top of it all, it is a great place for chocolate-lovers to see where one of their favorite brands got its big start and to sample how it tastes today!