This National Historic Landmark property dates from 1864, when it served as a factory making Civil War uniforms, but it’s best known as the former chocolate and spice factory of Domingo Ghirardelli (pronounced Gear-ar-dell-y), who purchased it in 1893. The factory has since been converted into an unimpressive three-level mall containing 30-plus stores and five dining establishments. Street performers entertain regularly in the West Plaza and fountain area. Incidentally, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company ★ still makes chocolate, but its factory is in a lower-rent district in the East Bay. Still, if you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be disappointed at the mall’s fantastic (and expensive) old-fashioned soda fountain; their “world famous” hot fudge sundae is good, too. (Then again, have you ever had a bad hot fudge sundae?) As if you need another excuse to laze the day away in this sweet spot, the square now boasts free Wi-Fi.
- Erika Lennert