Emeryville's Amazing Vertical Playground - 510 Families
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Emeryville’s Amazing Vertical Playground

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, pole, and 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).

Emeryville's amazing vertical playground
Emeryville’s amazing vertical playground | Photo: Anna Azimi

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.

vertical playground emeryville eccl
Emeryville’s Vertical Playground can fit about 60 kids and some adults, yikes! | Photo: Julia Gidwani

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.
Swings? No
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 free parking and an access gate on 47th Street. Walk past the basketball courts and sports fields to find it.
Shade: Not so much.

If your kids are very small or not into climbing, this is not the best choice.

Emeryville's wallholla vertical playground
Kai is super-high and loving it | Photo: Anna Azimi
Emeryville's amazing vertical playground
Find a bit of shade close to the school buildings | Photo: Anna Azimi

Plan your visit to ECCL Vertical Playground

Location: Emeryville Center of Community Life is located at 4727 San Pablo Ave in Emeryville.

Hours: The play yard is open to the public on evenings after 6 pm and on weekends between 9 am and 1 pm.

Tips:

  • Another play structure is also on-site if kids want more playtime.
  • Bring snacks and water since kids will get a good workout.
  • It isn’t all climbing. There is plenty of artificial turf and basketball courts for kids to toss a ball, shoot hoops, or run around.

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]

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5 thoughts on “Emeryville’s Amazing Vertical Playground”

  1. Info directly from ECCL: the playground is open weekdays after 6pm and weekends between 9am and 1pm unless it’s closed for special events. We got here on Sat morning, the doors were open. Btw it’s a nice place for outdoor birthday party, ECCL told me you can rent the space through city of Emeryville. Downside: no picnic tables whatsoever.

  2. Tried to go on Sunday at 10 but was told it’s closed during church service. On Sundays it appears to be open only in the afternoon.

  3. Came by August 2023 Sunday afternoon. While the soccer and track were open and the adjacent play structure, the vertical playground is behind another set of gates that are all locked.

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