Emeryville Center of Community Life, ECCL, has the coolest playground around. This completely vertical playground, called Wallholla, is the only one of its kind in The Bay (and only second in the US). I was a bit scared at first, but my kids jumped, or rather climbed, right in. There are multiple entrances and exit points – a rock wall, slide, poll, holes – and endless areas to explore with hands and feet.
Standing three stories high, its ribbon-like undulating layers are encased in a metal grid cage whose form resembles a human-scaled hamster maze (source).
You’ll totally have fun exploring the various climbing structures. Parents should know that the play area is exposed, there’s not much shade, and the ground is covered in turf. It must get pretty hot during the warmer weather.
The playground belongs to Emeryville’s elementary school, so it’s not open during school hours (or camp hours in the summer) and is also guarded by multiple locks. A representative of ECCL told us it’s open during evenings and weekends. Though we’re sure it gets crowded at times, it was relatively quiet when we visited on a Sunday afternoon.
Location: Emeryville Center of Community Life at 4727 San Pablo Ave in Emeryville.
Hours: Open to the public after 6 pm on weekdays and on weekends
Unique Features: Everything. Vertical play space with undulating layers.
Fenced in? Yes. In fact, it can be tricky to find the entrance.
Surfaces: Metal, rubber grips, over turf
Bathroom: Facilities are well-maintained and there is a bathroom on-site.
Parking: Street parking is available, Find parking and an access gate on 47th Street.
Shade: Not so much.
If your kids are very small or not into climbing, this is not the best choice.
Plan your visit to ECCL Vertical Playground
Emeryville Center of Community Life is located at 4727 San Pablo Ave in Emeryville.
Open to the public on evenings after 6 pm and weekends between 9 am and 1 pm.
You can rent the space for birthday parties through the City of Emeryville.
[All photos by Anna Azimi and Julia Gidwani as indicated; all rights reserved]