Victoria’s guidebook to Top Sights in San Francisco

Victoria
Victoria’s guidebook to Top Sights in San Francisco

Sightseeing

Sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and around notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's history via an award-winning audio commentary, available in 16 languages.
Jambatan Golden Gate
Golden Golden Gate Bridge
Sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and around notorious Alcatraz Island. Discover San Francisco's history via an award-winning audio commentary, available in 16 languages.
On a sunny day, an image of Sausalito could easily be mistaken for a Mediterranean fishing village. This picturesque seaside town has the ambience of a European vacation resort, especially during summertime, with its quaint boutiques, upscale art galleries, scenic waterfront walk, and yacht-filled marinas.
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Sausalito
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On a sunny day, an image of Sausalito could easily be mistaken for a Mediterranean fishing village. This picturesque seaside town has the ambience of a European vacation resort, especially during summertime, with its quaint boutiques, upscale art galleries, scenic waterfront walk, and yacht-filled marinas.
This federally protected forest, 14 miles north of Sausalito, is one of the last remnants of the redwoods forests that once covered much of the Northern California coastal valleys. Muir Woods National Monument is the only remaining "old-growth" forest in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the few remaining in the world.
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Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Rd
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This federally protected forest, 14 miles north of Sausalito, is one of the last remnants of the redwoods forests that once covered much of the Northern California coastal valleys. Muir Woods National Monument is the only remaining "old-growth" forest in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the few remaining in the world.
Getting to Sausalito is more than half the fun, and this exhilarating 25-minute ferry boat ride is the most dramatic way to arrive in Sausalito. It's also the most scenic way to get here. The ferry departs from the San Francisco Ferry Building, a worthwhile destination in itself, especially for foodies who will find many unique gourmet shops and artisanal bakeries.
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Ferry Building Marketplace
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Getting to Sausalito is more than half the fun, and this exhilarating 25-minute ferry boat ride is the most dramatic way to arrive in Sausalito. It's also the most scenic way to get here. The ferry departs from the San Francisco Ferry Building, a worthwhile destination in itself, especially for foodies who will find many unique gourmet shops and artisanal bakeries.
Part of the Golden Gate National Parks, the site at Fort Baker was originally inhabited by native Miwok tribes. From the early 1900s, the site was used as an active army post until World War II. Nestled on a forested coastal site at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Baker includes 25 historic army buildings and a sheltered harbor with waterfront paths and trails along scenic bluffs.
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Fort Baker
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Part of the Golden Gate National Parks, the site at Fort Baker was originally inhabited by native Miwok tribes. From the early 1900s, the site was used as an active army post until World War II. Nestled on a forested coastal site at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Baker includes 25 historic army buildings and a sheltered harbor with waterfront paths and trails along scenic bluffs.
The historic and notorious Alcatraz penitentiary, located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, is one of America's most infamous prisons. It operated for almost thirty years, closing in 1963 and re-opening as a tourist attraction in 1973. Some of America's most well-known criminals were inmates here, including Al Capone and the "Birdman," who would later form the basis for the fictional movie The Birdman of Alcatraz.
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Pulau Alcatraz
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The historic and notorious Alcatraz penitentiary, located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, is one of America's most infamous prisons. It operated for almost thirty years, closing in 1963 and re-opening as a tourist attraction in 1973. Some of America's most well-known criminals were inmates here, including Al Capone and the "Birdman," who would later form the basis for the fictional movie The Birdman of Alcatraz.
Fisherman's Wharf is one of San Francisco's most popular tourist areas. If this is your first visit to the city and you only have a day or two to see the sights, Fisherman's Wharf is one of the best places to visit. This old section, once the Little Italy of San Francisco, is known for its shops, restaurants, and beautiful setting along the waterfront. The views from Pier 39 back towards the city are exceptional. It's a fun place to stroll around and get a taste for the city. From here, you can also take a sightseeing cruise for spectacular views of the city, or organize a fishing charter. The docks by pier 39 are some of the best areas in the city to see sea lions.
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Fisherman's Wharf
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Fisherman's Wharf is one of San Francisco's most popular tourist areas. If this is your first visit to the city and you only have a day or two to see the sights, Fisherman's Wharf is one of the best places to visit. This old section, once the Little Italy of San Francisco, is known for its shops, restaurants, and beautiful setting along the waterfront. The views from Pier 39 back towards the city are exceptional. It's a fun place to stroll around and get a taste for the city. From here, you can also take a sightseeing cruise for spectacular views of the city, or organize a fishing charter. The docks by pier 39 are some of the best areas in the city to see sea lions.
Golden Gate Park, home to gardens and museums, is a fabulous green space in the heart of San Francisco, often considered the "lungs" of the city. Before development began in 1871, this was an area of arid dunes. Today, the park has a network of walking trails and cycling paths, more than 5,000 different kinds of plants and dozens of species of trees, several lakes, bridle paths, and a buffalo paddock. The main attractions include the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences Museum with Steinhart Aquarium, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
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Golden Gate Park
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Golden Gate Park, home to gardens and museums, is a fabulous green space in the heart of San Francisco, often considered the "lungs" of the city. Before development began in 1871, this was an area of arid dunes. Today, the park has a network of walking trails and cycling paths, more than 5,000 different kinds of plants and dozens of species of trees, several lakes, bridle paths, and a buffalo paddock. The main attractions include the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences Museum with Steinhart Aquarium, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
You may have been to Chinatown in other cities, but San Francisco's Chinatown is a whole other realm. It is both the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest of its kind in North America. Almost completely destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, Chinatown was rebuilt entirely in the Chinese style and was soon even more attractive than before the disaster. Now with its temples, theaters, workshops, small businesses, stores, antique and souvenir shops, teahouses, and traditional pharmacies, visiting Chinatown has become one of the top things to do in San Francisco.
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Chinatown
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You may have been to Chinatown in other cities, but San Francisco's Chinatown is a whole other realm. It is both the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest of its kind in North America. Almost completely destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, Chinatown was rebuilt entirely in the Chinese style and was soon even more attractive than before the disaster. Now with its temples, theaters, workshops, small businesses, stores, antique and souvenir shops, teahouses, and traditional pharmacies, visiting Chinatown has become one of the top things to do in San Francisco.
An impressive Neoclassical Beaux-Arts building in an amazing setting, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor is San Francisco's most exquisite museum. The Legion of Honor was the gift of the socialite, philanthropist, and patron of the arts Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. Because of her love for all things Parisian, the museum was designed as a replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris.
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Legion of Honor
100 34th Avenue
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An impressive Neoclassical Beaux-Arts building in an amazing setting, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor is San Francisco's most exquisite museum. The Legion of Honor was the gift of the socialite, philanthropist, and patron of the arts Alma de Bretteville Spreckels. Because of her love for all things Parisian, the museum was designed as a replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris.
The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is the last remaining structure from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this classical looking building is beautifully situated on a lagoon that reflects the mirror image on the surface of the calm water, while ducks and geese drift by.
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Palace of Fine Arts
3601 Lyon Street
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The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is the last remaining structure from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this classical looking building is beautifully situated on a lagoon that reflects the mirror image on the surface of the calm water, while ducks and geese drift by.
The California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park, is an architectural marvel as well as a multifaceted museum. This state-of-the-art "green" building with a sustainable design has a 2.5-acre Living Roof, covered with native plants and even rolling hills to match the natural surroundings. The roof also has solar panels to generate electricity, and the soil acts as natural insulation. The walls are largely made of glass allowing for natural light. Inside is an incredible natural history museum, planetarium, aquarium, rainforest, and more. The Steinhart Aquarium includes some 38,000 live specimens and a 25-feet-deep coral reef. The Osher Rainforest is four stories high and houses animals and amphibians in a fantastic layout. You can descend in a glass elevator to the deepest depths and look up through an acrylic tunnel to see fish swimming overhead in the flooded forest. The Kimball Natural History Museum has skeletons of a T-Rex and blue whale, along with an array of interesting exhibits.
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California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr
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The California Academy of Sciences, in Golden Gate Park, is an architectural marvel as well as a multifaceted museum. This state-of-the-art "green" building with a sustainable design has a 2.5-acre Living Roof, covered with native plants and even rolling hills to match the natural surroundings. The roof also has solar panels to generate electricity, and the soil acts as natural insulation. The walls are largely made of glass allowing for natural light. Inside is an incredible natural history museum, planetarium, aquarium, rainforest, and more. The Steinhart Aquarium includes some 38,000 live specimens and a 25-feet-deep coral reef. The Osher Rainforest is four stories high and houses animals and amphibians in a fantastic layout. You can descend in a glass elevator to the deepest depths and look up through an acrylic tunnel to see fish swimming overhead in the flooded forest. The Kimball Natural History Museum has skeletons of a T-Rex and blue whale, along with an array of interesting exhibits.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is one of the city's top museums, with 170,000 square feet of exhibition space spread across 10 floors. The museum focuses on 20th-century art, in all forms, and the innovative and interesting exhibits are constantly changing. The permanent collection consists of 33,000 pieces, and one of the more interesting collections are contained within the Fisher Collection. The museum is housed in a modern, architecturally stunning building that was extensively renovated and expanded in 2016. The light and airy building is a pleasure to wander about. Should you work up an appetite, grab a bite at Café 5 in the museum's Jean and James Douglas Family Sculpture Garden. For a more refined dining experience, try and secure a table at the Michelin-starred In Situ restaurant.
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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 3rd St
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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is one of the city's top museums, with 170,000 square feet of exhibition space spread across 10 floors. The museum focuses on 20th-century art, in all forms, and the innovative and interesting exhibits are constantly changing. The permanent collection consists of 33,000 pieces, and one of the more interesting collections are contained within the Fisher Collection. The museum is housed in a modern, architecturally stunning building that was extensively renovated and expanded in 2016. The light and airy building is a pleasure to wander about. Should you work up an appetite, grab a bite at Café 5 in the museum's Jean and James Douglas Family Sculpture Garden. For a more refined dining experience, try and secure a table at the Michelin-starred In Situ restaurant.
In Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum is a fine arts museum, and one of the largest public art institutions in San Francisco. Exhibits cover a variety of time frames and geographical locations. While art and period interiors from North America feature strongly in the collection, many other exhibits from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Near East are of note. British art and folk art from Africa, America, and the Pacific Islands, are also well represented. Admission to the de Young Museum includes free same-day admission to the Legion of Honor.
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de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
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In Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum is a fine arts museum, and one of the largest public art institutions in San Francisco. Exhibits cover a variety of time frames and geographical locations. While art and period interiors from North America feature strongly in the collection, many other exhibits from Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Near East are of note. British art and folk art from Africa, America, and the Pacific Islands, are also well represented. Admission to the de Young Museum includes free same-day admission to the Legion of Honor.
These two uninhabited hills, more than 900 feet high, have one of the finest views out over the city and bay. Access is easy – you can drive to the north peak parking area, park your car, and soak up the amazing vista. For those looking for a bit of activity, take a hike along trails over the north and south peaks. This is some of the best hiking in San Francisco. While up here, you may be forgiven for thinking these are the highest of San Francisco's 43 hills; however, that lofty distinction belongs to Mount Davidson, which is 33 feet higher. The Twin Peaks are the only hills in San Francisco not to have been built over and remain in their original state. The Spaniards called them "Los pechos de la Chola" or the Breasts of the Indian Maiden. Even on warm days, strong, cool breezes blow in from the Pacific, especially in the late afternoon.
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Twin Peaks
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These two uninhabited hills, more than 900 feet high, have one of the finest views out over the city and bay. Access is easy – you can drive to the north peak parking area, park your car, and soak up the amazing vista. For those looking for a bit of activity, take a hike along trails over the north and south peaks. This is some of the best hiking in San Francisco. While up here, you may be forgiven for thinking these are the highest of San Francisco's 43 hills; however, that lofty distinction belongs to Mount Davidson, which is 33 feet higher. The Twin Peaks are the only hills in San Francisco not to have been built over and remain in their original state. The Spaniards called them "Los pechos de la Chola" or the Breasts of the Indian Maiden. Even on warm days, strong, cool breezes blow in from the Pacific, especially in the late afternoon.
The Asian Art Museum is unquestionably one of the most important museums in San Francisco. The museum opened in 1966, with the basis of the collection coming from art collector Avery Brundage. Brundage built up a private collection, which in 1959 he offered to the city of San Francisco "to bridge the gap between East and West." The museum building was constructed, and on his death in 1975 at the age of 88, the museum also received the rest of his collection of works of art in the form of a legacy. Building on this, the museum has continued to amass various pieces and now contains an extensive collection of sculptures, paintings, bronzes, ceramics, jade carvings, and architectural fragments from Japan, Korea, China, India, Iran, and other Asiatic cultures. The works span more than 6,000 years. Plans are afoot for a substantial expansion, with the creation of a new pavilion.
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Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin Street
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The Asian Art Museum is unquestionably one of the most important museums in San Francisco. The museum opened in 1966, with the basis of the collection coming from art collector Avery Brundage. Brundage built up a private collection, which in 1959 he offered to the city of San Francisco "to bridge the gap between East and West." The museum building was constructed, and on his death in 1975 at the age of 88, the museum also received the rest of his collection of works of art in the form of a legacy. Building on this, the museum has continued to amass various pieces and now contains an extensive collection of sculptures, paintings, bronzes, ceramics, jade carvings, and architectural fragments from Japan, Korea, China, India, Iran, and other Asiatic cultures. The works span more than 6,000 years. Plans are afoot for a substantial expansion, with the creation of a new pavilion.
One of San Francisco's top family attractions, the Exploratorium is an incredibly popular science museum, with exhibits for both children and adults to enjoy. A huge number of diverse exhibits, and many with hand-on learning experiences, cover various areas of interest, all of which are designed to educate and entertain. Children tend to rate this museum very highly, with all kinds of experiments and fun things to do, and whether they have kids or not, most adults also rave about the Exploratorium.
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Exploratorium
Pier 15 The Embarcadero
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One of San Francisco's top family attractions, the Exploratorium is an incredibly popular science museum, with exhibits for both children and adults to enjoy. A huge number of diverse exhibits, and many with hand-on learning experiences, cover various areas of interest, all of which are designed to educate and entertain. Children tend to rate this museum very highly, with all kinds of experiments and fun things to do, and whether they have kids or not, most adults also rave about the Exploratorium.
Home of the San Francisco Giants, Oracle Park is a fun place to take in a baseball game while visiting the city. If you want to gaze out over the ball park to the sublime view of the ocean, buy tickets along the 1st base or 3rd base lines or behind home plate. If you aren't able to see a game, consider taking a 90-minute ballpark tour for a behind-the-scenes look at places off limits to most people. You can learn about the historic moments that have taken place here and explore the architecture. Tours are scheduled around games and do not run every day so check the online calendar in advance.
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Oracle Park
24 Willie Mays Plaza
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Home of the San Francisco Giants, Oracle Park is a fun place to take in a baseball game while visiting the city. If you want to gaze out over the ball park to the sublime view of the ocean, buy tickets along the 1st base or 3rd base lines or behind home plate. If you aren't able to see a game, consider taking a 90-minute ballpark tour for a behind-the-scenes look at places off limits to most people. You can learn about the historic moments that have taken place here and explore the architecture. Tours are scheduled around games and do not run every day so check the online calendar in advance.
Less than 1.5 hours from San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are the two best-known and largest grape-growing areas in California. Many people day trip to this area to enjoy the scenery and stop in at some of the sites along the way. Situated at the southern end of the valley of the same name, some 52 miles from San Francisco, Napa is one of the largest Californian towns north of San Francisco. This is an incredibly scenic area with a drier climate than the coastal regions. It was founded in 1848 and bears the name of the long extinct Napa Indians. The western boundary is formed by the Napa Mountains. The Howell Mountains form the eastern boundary of Napa County and they also protect the valley from storms.
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Napa Valley
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Less than 1.5 hours from San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are the two best-known and largest grape-growing areas in California. Many people day trip to this area to enjoy the scenery and stop in at some of the sites along the way. Situated at the southern end of the valley of the same name, some 52 miles from San Francisco, Napa is one of the largest Californian towns north of San Francisco. This is an incredibly scenic area with a drier climate than the coastal regions. It was founded in 1848 and bears the name of the long extinct Napa Indians. The western boundary is formed by the Napa Mountains. The Howell Mountains form the eastern boundary of Napa County and they also protect the valley from storms.
If you are looking for a non-touristy thing to do in San Francisco, take a 25-minute ferry ride from Pier 41 to Angel Island State Park for a wonderful escape to nature. The largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has astounding views of the surrounding bay. You can enjoy the lovely scenery while hiking or biking on the well-groomed trails. It's possible to hike up to the island's summit, Mount Caroline Livermore, at 788 feet, where the views are sensational. The island also has five picnic areas, eleven campsites, and several sandy beaches that are pleasant for walking and sunbathing. Well designed for visitors, the island has a café that is open all week long during most of the year (except winter) and a casual restaurant that's open on the weekends from June to October and features live music performances.
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Angel Island
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If you are looking for a non-touristy thing to do in San Francisco, take a 25-minute ferry ride from Pier 41 to Angel Island State Park for a wonderful escape to nature. The largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has astounding views of the surrounding bay. You can enjoy the lovely scenery while hiking or biking on the well-groomed trails. It's possible to hike up to the island's summit, Mount Caroline Livermore, at 788 feet, where the views are sensational. The island also has five picnic areas, eleven campsites, and several sandy beaches that are pleasant for walking and sunbathing. Well designed for visitors, the island has a café that is open all week long during most of the year (except winter) and a casual restaurant that's open on the weekends from June to October and features live music performances.

Food scene

Enjoying high tea at a historic hotel gives tourists a sense of the city's grandeur during the Victorian era and the turn of the century. The Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill, opened in 1907, is renowned for its opulent lobby and elegant ambience. The Fairmont's Laurel Court offers afternoon tea service on Saturdays and Sundays. Also on Nob Hill, The Ritz-Carlton is well-known for its fancy afternoon tea service in The Lounge, a sophisticated reception room with splendid city views. One of the city's grandest historic hotels, the Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel was built in 1875 in the downtown area near Market Street. The Palace Hotel awes visitors with its magnificent Garden Court reception area, where a traditional afternoon tea is served complete with fine china, sterling silver, and classic specialties like finger sandwiches and handmade scones.
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Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Francisco
2 New Montgomery Street
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Enjoying high tea at a historic hotel gives tourists a sense of the city's grandeur during the Victorian era and the turn of the century. The Fairmont San Francisco on Nob Hill, opened in 1907, is renowned for its opulent lobby and elegant ambience. The Fairmont's Laurel Court offers afternoon tea service on Saturdays and Sundays. Also on Nob Hill, The Ritz-Carlton is well-known for its fancy afternoon tea service in The Lounge, a sophisticated reception room with splendid city views. One of the city's grandest historic hotels, the Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel was built in 1875 in the downtown area near Market Street. The Palace Hotel awes visitors with its magnificent Garden Court reception area, where a traditional afternoon tea is served complete with fine china, sterling silver, and classic specialties like finger sandwiches and handmade scones.
Located in the Fisherman's Wharf area, Ghirardelli Square is in a restored factory area, surrounded by shops, galleries, and restaurants in renovated industrial buildings. The square was inaugurated in 1964 and was the first of a number of projects designed to give new life to abandoned factory complexes. Ghirardelli's old red-brick chocolate factory has been turned into a center for shoppers, art-lovers, and those in search of entertainment or a good meal. This is a great place for chocolate lovers who want to sample some treats. Its belfry (built in 1916) is modeled on that of the Château of Blois in France. Later additions are rose gardens decorated with fountains and terraces with fine views.
Ghirardelli Square
Located in the Fisherman's Wharf area, Ghirardelli Square is in a restored factory area, surrounded by shops, galleries, and restaurants in renovated industrial buildings. The square was inaugurated in 1964 and was the first of a number of projects designed to give new life to abandoned factory complexes. Ghirardelli's old red-brick chocolate factory has been turned into a center for shoppers, art-lovers, and those in search of entertainment or a good meal. This is a great place for chocolate lovers who want to sample some treats. Its belfry (built in 1916) is modeled on that of the Château of Blois in France. Later additions are rose gardens decorated with fountains and terraces with fine views.