Emeryville



View of Emeryville

Emeryville is a small city on the San Francisco Bay that acts as a gateway to the East Bay from San Francisco. It exists at the edges of Berkeley and Oakland, and at the intersection of three major freeways: I-80, I-580, and I-880.

The 1990s and 2000s were a period of aggressive re-development for Emeryville, with industrial factories and warehouses replaced by modern retail and residential uses. Emeryville (population 13,000 in 2020) is now the go-to spot in the Berkeley/Oakland area for shopping at big-box chains like IKEA or Best Buy.

The city is also known for tech companies, such as Pixar studios. The city is featured in some small way in almost every Pixar film, such as on a map with actual street names in the film The Incredibles or a "Greetings from Emeryville" postcard at the dentist's office in Finding Nemo.

Get in

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By plane

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Oakland International Airport (OAK IATA) is the obvious choice, but San Francisco International Airport (SFO IATA) will also do. From the airports, see rail section on BART.

By train

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See also: Rail travel in the United States

By bus

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In addition to the Emery Go-Round mentioned above, AC Transit buses serve Emeryville from Oakland, Berkeley, and other parts of the East Bay, and the F bus even comes across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco's Salesforce Transit Center.

By car

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From San Francisco, take I-80 East and exit on Powell St. From points East, take I-80 West and exit on Powell St.

The complex freeway intersections just to the south of Emeryville are referred to as the Maze for good reason. Here are some tips to help your confusion:

  • Be aware that when traveling through Berkeley and Emeryville, I-80 west travels on the same road as I-580 east and vice versa.
  • When traveling from I-880 north onto I-80 east, you cannot exit at Powell. Instead merge right furiously and exit at Ashby/Shellmound. Take the Shellmound fork and right at Shellmound. Go straight and you'll see the Public Market and the rest of Emeryville shortly.

By bike or foot

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Emeryville is on the San Francisco Bay Trail, a mixed-use bicycle/pedestrian path that follows the edge of the bay. It's also easy to walk here from nearby parts of Oakland and Berkeley; one city blends into the next so much that most locals don't know where the official border is.

Get around

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For a city that has built its success on freeways and malls, Emeryville is surprisingly pedestrian-friendly. Sidewalks are usually available and the Bay Street Mall is quite pleasant to walk through. Distances are not that large: at a brisk pace you can walk from one end of town to the other in under an hour.

Nonetheless, it's a city that's primarily oriented towards cars. If you're driving, expect traffic delays if you want to go anywhere near Ikea or the Bay St. Mall.

Frequent and useful bus service is provided by the free Emery Go-Round and the local provider AC Transit. Transit trip planning is available online.

The Emery Go-Round is a free bus service that connects businesses and shopping areas in Emeryville with the MacArthur BART station. There are two lines: the Hollis line, which goes from the BART station up Hollis Street and up into the corner of nearby Berkeley; and the Shellmound/Powell line, which serves the city's major malls, the Public Market, and the marina. Both lines go close to the Amtrak station. They run Monday–Friday every 15 minutes from 6AM to about 9PM, and the Shellmound/Powell line also has reduced service on weekends (every 20 minutes 8AM–9PM on Saturdays and every 20 minutes 9AM–6PM on Sundays).

AC Transit buses are not free, so for getting around Emeryville they may not be your first choice, but they are useful for getting to Oakland and Berkeley.

See

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The entry gate to Pixar studios. Sadly, unless you know someone who can arrange a tour this is as far as most visitors will get.

Emeryville is an interesting mix of old warehouses, manufacturing plants, and houses and new development in the form of shopping malls and live-work lofts.

  • 1 Emeryville Marina (take the free "Shellmound/Powell" Emery Go-Round route, or drive west on Powell St). 7AM–10PM. The bayside park circling the marina has stunning views of San Francisco and the greater bay. You can see all three of the bay's main bridges from here: the Bay Bridge to the south, the Golden Gate Bridge to the west, and the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge to the northwest. Also lots of birds, including pelicans, egrets, ducks, hawks, shorebirds, and yellowthroats.
  • 2 Pixar Animation Studios, 1200 Park Ave. There are no public tours offered of the Pixar studios; to get in you will need to know someone who works there and arrange a visitor entry badge in advance. If you are able to obtain access, the campus is impressive. Steve Jobs oversaw much of the early design, going so far as to hand-select brick colors for the main building and insisting that bathrooms be placed far enough away from offices to force employees to walk through the building to create random connections with others. Animators are given great freedom with their cubicles, and some have built elaborate huts, tiki structures, or other individualized creations for their workspaces. The newer building, built by Steve Jobs, hides a lounge within its fireplace that pays homage to Jimmy Claxton, the first black athlete to play in an organized baseball league. Beyond these hidden gems, visitors will appreciate the company store, vast amounts of Pixar memorabilia, numerous screening rooms, and company cafeteria.
The Shellmound Memorial evokes the remains of an ancient settlement at what is now the Bay Street shopping center.
  • 3 Shellmound Memorial, Shellmound Street and Ohlone Way. The Bay Street mall, now Emeryville's nicest shopping area, was once the site of a prehistoric shellmound, or midden, a mound of shells and other food waste left by the area's indigenous inhabitants in generations past. People lived at the site from about 2,800 years ago to 600 years ago, leaving behind the shells and other artifacts as well as a cemetery. In the 20th century the mound was leveled and paved over, and in the process hundreds of bodies were exhumed; some of them were reburied and others were brought to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology in Berkeley. Though modern Bay Street shows little sign of the archeological site that still lies beneath it, there is an interesting outdoor memorial consisting of a large sculpture that evokes the ancient shellmound, two big stone doorways, and a series of informational panels about the area's history and native Ohlone culture.

Public art

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Walking or riding around Emeryville, you'll notice lots of odd stick-figure drawings on yellow metal boxes around town. The boxes are part of the traffic light system, but the stick figures are a project by local artist Seyed Alavi. According to the artist, the stick figures are inspired by the pedestrian walking signal, and each artwork is supposed to be read as a sign. On one street corner the figure is juggling heads; in another it's being zipped up (or unzipped?); on a third there are two figures on some sort of surreal elevator. There are two dozen of these whimsical and thought-provoking artworks scattered around town, collectively known as the "Signs of the Times", painted by Alavi together with local high school students.

In general Emeryville has quite a bit of public art, partly thanks to a local government program to support it and partly because artists moved into empty warehouses amid the city's deindustrialization. A partial map of artworks (not including the electricity boxes) is available online.

Do

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  • 1 Oaks Card Club (The Oaks), 4097 San Pablo Ave (at 40th St), +1 510-653-4456. Open 24 hours. A card club for Texas Hold'em players. Oaks Card Club (Q85790125) on Wikidata Oaks Card Club on Wikipedia
  • 2 Trivium Games, 3996 San Pablo Ave., Suite H, +1 510-947-9044, . "Ghost Patrol" paranormal-themed escape room, which was rated the best escape room in California in 2022. Recommended for 4–8 players, book in advance, plan for about two hours. Wheelchair-accessible. $295 for four players; the price goes up for more players.

Buy

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Large chain stores are found in abundance in Emeryville. It seems the big-box chains that couldn't make it in Oakland or Berkeley, due to expensive real estate or city governments' preferences to support local businesses, ended up with branches here instead. In addition to the shopping centers below, there are a lot of home furnishing stores, most notably an 1 IKEA at 4400 Shellmound St.

  • 2 Bay Street Emeryville. A large outdoor, "main street" style shopping center parallel to Shellmound past Christie that includes an AMC Movie Theater, Barnes & Noble, It'Sugar candy store, an Apple Store, and various clothing, accessories, and shoe stores at varying price ranges. Bay Street Emeryville (Q4874127) on Wikidata Bay Street Emeryville on Wikipedia
  • 3 Emeryville Bay Bridge Center. Several "big-box" retailers such as Home Depot, Michaels, Target, Nordstrom and others, is further down on 40th St., (actually the same street as Shellmound), near San Pablo Ave.
  • 4 Powell Street Plaza. Standard outdoor shopping center, has Marshalls, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Ross, Men's Wearhouse, J. Crew, Trader Joe's, and the Japanese dollar store Daiso.

Eat

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  • 1 Emeryville Public Market, 5959 Shellmound St. Open M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sat 9AM-11PM, Sun 9AM - 8PM. Twenty-five small ethnic restaurants under one roof. It's a great place to go if you can't agree on whether you want crêpes or curry. Mostly around the $10–20 range, which is pretty cheap for this area. Emeryville Public Market (Q65069664) on Wikidata Emeryville Public Market on Wikipedia
  • 2 Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant, 3199 Powell St (Emeryville Marina), +1 510-655-3388. Chinese Dim Sum, decently priced, but absolutely killer view. The exact same restaurant as the popular upscale chain found in Hong Kong. $6-14 per dim sum dish, $15-30 per entree; prices go much higher for delicacies like bird's nest.
  • 3 Trader Vic's, 9 Anchor Dr (at Powell St.), +1 510 653-3400. Delicious Polynesian food in a waterfront dining room, with a fun tiki bar where the Mai Tai was invented. $20-40.
  • 4 Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, 4081 Hollis St (between 40th St & Park Ave.), +1 510 594-1221. 7AM to 1AM. A hip rock and roll joint serving good quality brunch dishes (the Southwestern omelette with grits is highly recommended), burgers, sandwiches, salads and daily specials. $15-30. Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe (Q7377554) on Wikidata Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe on Wikipedia
  • 5 Arizmendi Bakery, 4301 San Pablo Ave (between Park Ave. & 43rd St.), +1 510 547-0550. A worker-owned bakery serving some of the best breads, pastries, and pizzas around.

Drink

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  • 1 Cafe Rack, 5768 Peladeau St, +1 510 255-1925. A billiard hall with full bar, foosball, free WiFi, multiple HD TVs, a kitchen serving traditional bar food, and a smoking lounge.
  • 2 The Prizefighter, 6702 Hollis St, . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa & Su 2PM-2AM. Excellent drinks at fairly reasonable prices - if you want a whiskey sour with real egg white in it, this is your place. Food options are limited, but patrons can bring a pizza with them. The inside is loud, but heat lamps in the patio make it a comfortable area to gather.

Sleep

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Emeryville actually features many of the most modern hotels in the Berkeley/Emeryville/Oakland region. Thus, you may choose to stay in Emeryville while actually spending your days in the other (more interesting) cities.

Stay safe

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The large stores, the Public Market, and the Amtrak station are all safe areas. Broadly, Emeryville is about as safe as the areas of Oakland just to the east. Treat it with the same safety attitudes you would treat a large city like San Francisco.

Cope

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Media

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The E'ville Eye is Emeryville's local news website, and The East Bay Times also has an Emeryville section.

Go next

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  • Berkeley - This neighboring city is famous for its quirkiness and liberal activism, and offers numerous interesting shops, restaurants, and nightlife spots for travelers.
  • Oakland – Emeryville's neighbor to the east, with a plethora of dining and shopping options that tend to offer more local personality than Emeryville's major chains.
  • San Francisco – the cultural and historic center of the Bay Area is right across the bridge and served by a direct bus from Emeryville.

Once you've explored these, the rest of the East Bay awaits.

Routes through Emeryville
END  W  E  RichmondSacramento
SacramentoBerkeley  N  S  OaklandSan Jose
BakersfieldRichmond  N  S  OaklandEND
San FranciscoOakland  W  E  BerkeleySacramento
San RafaelBerkeley  N  S  OaklandLivermore


This city travel guide to Emeryville is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.