There were 2 major bucket list items to hit while visiting San Francisco: Chinatown and Ghirardelli Square.
Chinatown San Francisco is the real deal, y’all. The community is not only the largest chinatown outside of the Asian continent, but it’s also the oldest in North America. Hello paper lanterns, awesome noodles, and lots of jade jewelry.
We decided to do our own little casual stroll through Chinatown, not really aiming for anything in particular, but just strolling through the streets and chatting with shop owners. The ambiance was awesome – no English to be read, Chinese lanterns over the streets, Asian architecture, and the smell of tons of Chinese food.
And, of course, trying some tasty little morsels was on the list. We were both hankering for some Dim Sum, especially cha siu bao – of which we are big fans. Chinatown did not disappoint in this area! There are so many little restaurants, cafes, and classic hole-in-the-wall eateries. It’s really a smorgasbord to choose from. My husband was so happy, haha.
A top experience was chatting with a female shop owner who was retiring soon. She had grown up her whole life in Chinatown, owned and operated a souvenir and decor shop, but had a son who was attending the University of Texas at Austin for engineering. She was so proud of his academic achievement and his ability to forge an entirely different path for his life. Her motherly pride was abundant.
After Chinatown, we headed towards Ghirardelli Square. I knew we were close when I could SMELL the chocolate 2 blocks away. Oh heaven, indeed!
Guys, this is how you do it: hit Chinatown for lunch and Ghirardelli Square for dessert. You can’t go wrong : )
Seriously though, you really could smell the chocolate. I felt like a pointer dog that had just found a fresh trail on the hunt! When we arrived, I had to get a photo at the entrance to this Theobroma cacao heaven.
If you enjoy chocolate plan to bring some spending money, because the sale prices here are better than even online pricing. I walked away with 3 giant bags of the Ghirardelli squares in different flavors, samplers of some of their exotic flavors and bars, and 2 gift tins for under $75. We had enough chocolate for weeks, but it was quite a challenge packing it all for the flight home.
A little bit about the area. Ghirardelli Square is in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco and was the original site of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Now, the square is a public area with a ton of shops, restaurants, a wine bar, and the Ghirardelli shops. After we bought some chocolate and took in the menu at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain, we had some wine in the courtyard and listened to a live violin player. He was fantastic! I thought to myself, “I could do this on a normal basis.”
And just like that, after a few days in the San Francisco area, I fell in love. Can’t wait to visit again!