Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Emeryville, CA

  • Published 2022/09/24

Emeryville is a refreshing destination besides San Francisco and Oakland in the Bay Area.

With some suburban vibes, this city in Alameda County is an excellent place to chill and enjoy various outdoor recreation through gorgeous state parks and natural areas.

In addition, Emeryville boasts some of the most famous scenic coastlines overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean.

This small Bay Area city might not be on the top of your travel destination bucket list, but you’ll surely change your mind once you arrive.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Emeryville, California, and nearby areas to get you excited:

Breathe the Fresh Sea Breeze in the Emeryville Marina

Sunset over Emeryville Marina

ConorEl95 /

There’s no better way to start your travel adventure in Emeryville than visiting its famous marina.

The Emeryville Marina offers a gorgeous sunset view and fresh sea breeze for a therapeutic experience.

To visit this marina, you must drive along Powell Street.

The serene setting of the marina greets you upon arriving.

Aerial view of the boats docked at Emeryville Marina

Brester Irina /

In contrast, you’ll see the gorgeous rolling hills of Oakland and Berkeley on the opposite side.

Meanwhile, from a distance, you can spot the famous Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco’s gorgeous skyline.

Besides sightseeing, you’ll enjoy picnicking and birdwatching at this place.

The Emeryville Marina is a fantastic place to visit, especially if you’re yearning to shake off stress.

Boardwalk at Emeryville Marina

HenriqueWestin /

Immerse Yourself in Nature at McLaughlin Eastshore State Park

Visit McLaughlin Eastshore State Park to treat yourself to some spectacular outdoor adventure.

This state park is considered a significant protected natural area in Alameda County since it’s where the local flora and fauna thrive.

It spans 1,833 acres stretching from Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, and Richmond.

Exploring this natural attraction takes you to pristine meadows, wetlands, scrubs, and prairies along a stretch of coastline.

You’ll also come across interpretive signs and walking trails to explore its scenic landscapes safely.

The excellent ways to enjoy visiting the Eastshore State Park are hiking and birdwatching.

There are numerous access points across Emeryville if you plan to explore this natural attraction.

Indulge in Mediterranean Cuisine at Wally’s Cafe

There are dozens of restaurants in Emeryville, and you may be too overwhelmed to choose just one.

However, a restaurant along San Pablo Avenue is known for its authentic Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine.

Wally’s Cafe has served the Bay Area for many years for its authentic and delicious cuisine.

Head to this restaurant and taste various Mediterranean and Lebanese dishes after a tiring day exploring Emeryville’s attractions.

Wally’s Cafe is famous for its rice pilaf, kabobs, gyros, shawarma, hummus, and baklava, all worth trying.

Enjoy Leisure Time at Bay Street Emeryville

Buildings at Bay Street Emeryville

Takako Hatayama-Phillips /

Bay Street Emeryville is the city’s top shopping, entertainment, and dining destination.

You can find this upscale commercial complex along Bay Street.

It mainly features retail, hospitality, entertainment, business, and residential facilities, making it an excellent place to have leisure time.

Over 65 stores, a dozen restaurants, a movie theater, and a 230-room hotel occupy this massive mixed-use facility.

Shops at Bay Street Emeryville

Takako Hatayama-Phillips /

To enjoy your visit to Bay Street Emeryville, stroll its commercial area teeming with shops and restaurants.

You can check out the IKEA store, Pixar store, and numerous shopping centers in Emeryville Marketplace, East Bay Bridge Shopping Center, and the Powell Street Plaza.

So, you know where to find the best place in Emeryville whenever you yearn for some self-pampering and leisure.

People at Bay Street Emeryville

Mercurywoodrose, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Traverse the Bay Bridge Bike Trail

Biking along the Bay Bridge Bike Trail is one of the most recommended activities you must do in Emeryville.

This famous trail is part of the more extensive San Francisco Bay Trail, which spans from Emeryville, Oakland, to Yerba Buena Island.

The best access in Emeryville is near the IKEA Store along Burma Road.

Aside from biking, this trail is also perfect for long-distance runners who yearn for a scenic route.

Most importantly, runners and cyclists have the chance to cross the famous Bay Bridge that connects Oakland and San Francisco.

So, pack your running shoes or bring your bike whenever you visit Emeryville because you’ll find yourself traversing Bay Bridge Bike Trail.

Treat Your Taste Buds at the Public Market

Discover the local gastronomic scene of Emeryville by visiting Public Market.

You can find this indoor and straightforward retail center along Shellmound Street.

It mainly features a casual dining experience featuring an eclectic collection of eateries serving mouth-watering food.

At the same time, it’s home to numerous specialty stores and services, making your visit there extra convenient.

However, it’s most famous for its food hall featuring 17 local food purveyors.

They serve unique dishes ranging from Mexican and Japanese to classic American comfort food.

This place never runs out of food to try, from classic tacos, burritos, and burgers to ramen.

So, visit the Public Market and treat your taste buds to some of the most delicious food you can find in the city.

Rekindle Your Childhood at Pixar Animation Studios

Exterior of Pixar Animation Studios

Light Orancio /

Everyone on Earth virtually recognizes Pixar Studios.

Pixar’s famous animated movies captured your imagination and heart back in the day and even now that you’re a grown-up.

So, it would be excellent to visit Pixar Animation Studios, which happens to be in the heart of Emeryville, particularly along Park Avenue.

A visit to this famous studio is a recommended activity you mustn’t miss.

Inside, you’ll see the most famous Pixar and Disney characters from The Incredibles, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and more.

These famous characters have huge busts, while others are in murals, which you’ll see during a tour inside.

Visiting Pixar Animation Studios is a wholesome experience, especially if you bring along your family or friends.

Get Mesmerized by Point Emery’s Stunning Views

Besides Emeryville Marina, another scenic location you must visit is Point Emery.

You can find this uberly charming seaside park along West Frontage Road.

This park is most notable for its stunning views of the bay, which become more magical during sunset.

It’s a romantic place to bring your special someone or even your family or travel buddies to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Besides sightseeing, you’ll also enjoy picnicking and hiking at this park.

You can also enjoy kiteboarding and windsurfing in this area.

However, Point Emery is best enjoyed when you’re just sitting there, passing the time, and appreciating its calm atmosphere.

Hang Out with Your Kids at Doyle Hollis Park

Doyle Hollis Park is the perfect place to hang out and let your kids engage in various outdoor activities.

You can find this park between 61st and Doyle Streets.

It mainly features a terrific children’s playground, a vast green field, a community garden, and other essential park amenities.

Many locals frequent Doyle Hollis Park to hang out and enjoy various activities through its unique playground structure.

Compared to your typical playground, this one has challenging but fun-filled features, including a rope climbing area, a wall climbing area, and an oddly-shaped tube slide.

Its unique but innovative playground features keep your little ones busy the entire day.

Uncover History at the Emeryville Shellmound

Daytime view of Emeryville Shellmound

Smerdis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Emeryville Shellmound is an important archeological site in the city’s heart.

It served as a sacred burial site back in the day by the Ohlone People, who once settled in the area from 500 BC to 1700 AD.

You can find this historical attraction along Bay Street.

This famous mound measures 60 feet in length and 350 feet in diameter.

With that in mind, it’s one of the largest of the 400 mounds discovered throughout San Francisco Bay.

Today, the Emeryville Shellmound is one of the most visited historical sites in the city, offering a fascinating historical side trip.

To make your visit there memorable, don’t forget to pose and take lovely photos with the mound as your backdrop.

In addition, be sure to read the interpretive signs to learn more about the mound’s fascinating facts.

Check Out the Local Arts Scene at The Compound Gallery

Located along 61st Street, The Compound Gallery lets you explore Emeryville’s local arts scene.

This fascinating art gallery houses contemporary artworks from various artists in the Bay Area.

At the same time, it also features artworks such as paintings and sculptures primarily up for sale.

If you’re looking for a short side trip involving arts, The Compound Gallery is a recommended place to check out.

Besides seeing artworks, you can take home some of them, should you buy one displayed at the gallery.

Other Things to Do Nearby

The Bay Area is vast and full of world-class tourist destinations, making it an exciting playground for travelers like you.

So, check these recommended attractions and things to do nearby Emeryville.

Explore Lake Merritt

Aerial view of Lake Merritt

Donovan Jugarap /

Lake Merritt is an urban community in Oakland which is a 10-minute drive or 5.2 miles east of Emeryville.

The lake spans 47 acres of pristine waters.

People walking along Lake Merritt lakeside park

cdrin /

Visiting this lake offers you some of the most excellent outdoor recreation opportunities near Emeryville.

Flora at Lake Merritt lakeside park

Iv-olga /

You can also visit numerous attractions such as the Lakeside Park, Lakeside Park Garden Center, Lake Merritt Sailboat House, Lake Merritt Boating Center, Lake Merritt to Bay Trail, and the Rotary Nature Center.

Besides visiting Lake Merritt, you can also stroll through the streets of its community to discover hidden gems.

Sailboats on Lake Merritt

Lynn Watson /

Be Amazed by the Golden Gate Bridge

Daytime view of the Golden Gate Bridge

Anastasiia Reznichenko /

The Golden Gate Bridge doesn’t entirely need a flowery introduction since it’s a worldwide tourist attraction.

It’s a stunning man-made marvel featuring gently curved steel cables and a vibrant orange hue.

Since Emeryville is a stone’s throw away from San Francisco, it would be best to see and even cross this famous bridge.

To see the Golden Gate Bridge up close, you must cross the Oakland Bay Bridge bridge, which takes about a 26-minute drive or 17 miles from Emeryville.

Cars and people along Golden Gate Bridge

SB Freelancer /

Besides sightseeing, there are more activities you can enjoy than on this famous bridge.

You can head to Cavallo Point to get an excellent vantage point and enjoy various activities such as hiking, running, and even yoga.

Or perhaps, you can cruise through the San Francisco Bay with boat cruises available in San Francisco.

Lastly, don’t forget to take ultimate selfies with the famous bridge as your background as a souvenir.

Aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge

GaudiLab /

Watch NBA Champions Play at Chase Center

Exterior of Chase Center

Michael Vi /

If you’re a sports fan, visit and watch the Golden State Warriors defend their home court, Chase Center.

You can find this 18,000-seater stadium in San Francisco, about a 16-minute drive southwest of Emeryville.

Chase Center became the new home court for the Warriors several years ago, after the team transferred from Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

People at Chase Center

Sundry Photography /

Today, it hosts major sports events, not just the NBA but college basketball, boxing, and even concerts.

For an electrifying experience, you should book a ticket to this massive stadium and see thousands of fans roaring.

Building sign of Chase Center

Michael Vi /

Find Solitude at Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area

A bird at Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area

Becky Matsubara from El Sobrante, California, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lastly, visit Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area in El Sobrante, 20 minutes north of Emeryville.

This massive recreation area offers you a tranquil but fun-filled experience, either by yourself or your loved ones.

This place is famous for its pretty picnic areas and spacious lawns under the canopy of towering eucalyptus trees.

Hiking through its wooded trails lets you hear birds chirping and rustling tree branches, making it a tranquil experience.

Visiting Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area is highly recommended before returning home, given its fantastic natural beauty and top-notch outdoor experience.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re planning a long vacation or a short excursion, you won’t regret choosing Emeryville as your destination.

With San Francisco and Oakland within your reach, Emeryville is a perfect jump-off point to explore these two great cities.

So, have a fantastic time trying the best things to do in Emeryville, California.

Discover More of Alameda County

Things to Do in Oakland, CA

Things to Do in Livermore, CA

Things to Do in Alameda, CA

Things to Do in Fremont, CA

Things to Do in Dublin, CA

Things to Do in Castro Valley, CA

Things to Do in Pleasanton, CA

Things to Do in Berkley, CA

© All rights reserved.