Fountain in Ghirardelli Square.

Ghirardelli Square

The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf & the Piers

Willy Wonka would tip his hat to Domingo Ghirardelli (gear-ar-deli), whose business became the West’s largest chocolate factory in 1893. After the company moved to the East Bay, two sweet-talking developers reinvented the factory as a mall and landmark ice-cream parlor in 1964. Today, the square is getting comfortable in its third incarnation as a boutique luxury time-share/spa complex with wine-tasting and a new cheese-making school – care for wedge of Mt Tam and some merlot with your Ghirardelli chocolate sundae?

The square is lately looking even spiffier, with local boutiques such as elizabethW, plus a new minigolf operation, a brewpub and the nearby Cartoon Art Museum.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf & the Piers attractions

1. Cartoon Art Museum

0.04 MILES

Founded on a grant from Bay Area cartoon legend Charles M Schultz of Peanuts fame, this bold museum isn't afraid of the dark, political or racy – cases in…

2. Maritime Museum


A monumental hint to sailors in need of a scrub, this restored, ship-shaped 1939 Streamline Moderne landmark is decked out with Works Progress…

3. National Park Visitors Center

0.14 MILES

San Francisco grew from its docks, and this 10,000-sq-ft visitors center for the nearby maritime national historical park details how, with a permanent…

4. Aquatic Park

0.14 MILES

Everyone loves this easy-access cove at Van Ness Ave's northern end, flanked by the massive comma-shaped Municipal Pier, where fishermen cast their lines…

5. Maritime National Historical Park

0.19 MILES

Five historic ships are floating museums at this maritime national park, Fisherman's Wharf’s most authentic attraction. Moored along Hyde St Pier, the…

6. Lombard Street

0.33 MILES

You’ve seen the eight switchbacks of Lombard St's 900 block in a thousand photographs. The tourist board has dubbed it ‘the world’s crookedest street,’…

7. George Sterling Park

0.33 MILES

'Homeward into the sunset/Still unwearied we go/Till the northern hills are misty/With the amber of afterglow.' Poet George Sterling's poem 'City by the…

8. San Francisco Art Institute

0.34 MILES

Since the 1870s, SFAI has been at the vanguard of Bay Area art movements – including 1960s Bay Area abstraction, 1970s conceptual art and 1990s new-media…