Do you love chocolate, wine, and having fun? If so, then head over to the 23rd Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival.
The 2018 event is on the weekend of September 8 and 9.
During this two-day festival, you can sample Ghirardelli chocolates, sip wine from premium wineries, and watch local chefs perform their magic. You can also join in on the ice cream eating contest and participate in the silent auction that benefits Project Open Hand.
All the activities will be held in Ghirardelli Square and the entire block of Beach Street right in front of it. It lasts from 12pm to 5pm both days.
All events below will be at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Culinary Stage in the West Plaza.
Every year, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival has two days of entertainment. One of the most popular is the chef demonstrations. During this event, you will see top SF chefs telling you how to make some of their most pouplar chocolate flavored desserts. Demonstrations are usually both days starting at around 12:30pm and lasting until around 5pm.
Every year, participants can stop by the pavilion to sample chocolates and enjoy amazing local wines. Admission to this pavilion requires an extra ticket that offers guests the chance for even more gourmet tastings. This tent is only open to those 21 and older.
Six contestants will gobble up the famous Ghirardelli "Earthquake" Ice Cream Sundae. The challenge is that they each have to eat as much as possible, as fast as possible, with no hands.
This educational seminar shows you how the cocoa bean turns into the lovely chocolate that participants enjoy sampling all weekend long.
There are two separate tickets for this event. One is a ticket to the chocolate tasting and all events except the wine tasting pavilion. This ticket is around $20 per person.
The second ticket includes admission into the wine pavilion, and costs around $50 per person for Saturday ( the ticket on Sunday is usually just a little less than $50 per person).
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If you plan to stay in this district all weekend, then I recommend looking for a hotel nearby. One of the highest rated (and most expensive) hotels in San Francisco is right in Ghirardelli Square.
You will also find dozens of other options from the Holiday Inn Express to the four-star Argonaut Hotel. You will also find some great motels and budget friendly hotels within a few blocks of the district.
You can also start by checking out the great deals for this district on TripAdvisor. They are always offering some great discounts and it's the first place I look before booking. Click here to check out their hotel deals for this weekend.
You have many great options to get to Ghirardelli Square. I recommend taking public transit since parking will be crazy this weekend for various events at Fisherman's Wharf.
Cable Car: You can take the Powell/Hyde cable car to Fisherman's Wharf from Union Square. It's a fun ride and it will drop you about a block away from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival. Click here to read more about what it's like to take the cable cars.
Bus: There are almost a dozen buses that drop within a few blocks of Ghirardelli Square. You can pick one up in almost every district of the city. Look for the following numbers: 2, 4, 8, 18, 24, 27, 28, 39, 44, 47, 54, 56, 58, 72, 74, 76, or 91.
F-Street Car: Another way to get here from any location near Market Street is by taking the F-Street Car. It takes a little longer, but it's a fun ride. It cruises down Market Street, along the waterfront, and through Fisherman's Wharf. Get off at the final stop and make your way west to the festival. Click here to learn more.
Parking: If you do decide to drive, I recommend showing up early to find parking. You will find parking right in Ghirardelli Square, but it fills up first thing in the morning. You can also check out the parking at Pier 39 or some of the smaller garages in between. Keep in mind that all are expensive and will cost at least $30 for the entire day.
Pier 39: This is one of the top stops in this district. It's where you will find some fun shopping, but also several other great activities. You can check out the mirror maze, experience 7D cinema, and visit the famous sea lions. You can also stop by the Aquarium of the Bay to learn more about the plants and animals that call the SF Bay home. Click here for more details.
Maritime Museum: The Maritime Museum is a free museum just two blocks from Ghirardelli Square. This interactive museum tells the story of this district from the time it was a sleepy fishing area to today. See pictures and learn more here.
Hyde Street Pier: Another favorite of mine in this district is the Hyde Street Pier. It's home to five historic ships. You can step inside three of the ships and see all five from it's gorgeous pier. Click here for pictures and to learn more about visiting the Hyde Street Pier.
Are you visiting San Francisco for a few days or a week? Are you interested in saving on the admission to some of its top museums? If so, then check out the SF CityPass. This discount card offers you admission into the Aquarium of the Bay, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Exploratorium.
It also includes a ticket to the 60-minute SF Bay cruise as well as a seven day Muni pass (where you can ride as much as you want for all seven days). It's a great way to save!
You can also click here to check out my suggested itinerary. This will help you make the most out of the pass during your stay.
In addition to this weekend's festivals, you will also find a number of great events and activities at up to half-off on Goldstar. On their site, you will find tickets to walking tours, Segway tours, and SF Bay cruises. You will even find tickets to local theater performances, internationally recognized stand-up comedians, and more. Click here to check out their selection for this weekend and beyond.