East Bay

Lying across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, the East Bay consists primarily of Contra Costa County and Alameda County. It has a unique culture that's more laid back and uncomplicated than its western neighbors. Oakland, the area's largest city, is famous for its somewhat smaller Chinatown and its beautiful waterfront Jack London Square, as well as its large port and eucalyptus-spotted hills. Berkeley, just north of Oakland, is home to the University of California and tens of thousands of students.


Inner and outer East Bay
  Inner East Bay
The densely populated area west of the Berkeley Hills, home to the many parks and museums of Oakland, the counter-cultural hub that is Berkeley, and even a historic aircraft carrier in Alameda. Experience dozens of immigrant communities, particularly in Fremont.
  Outer East Bay
Primarily residential, with a vast array of food, shopping, and lodging options for Bay Area visitors. The landscape is dominated by Mount Diablo, a peak that provides excellent hiking opportunities and, on clear days, summit views that stretch for well over 100 mi (160 km) in all directions. Other attractions include the John Muir Historic Site in Martinez and the estate of Nobel winning playwright Eugene O'Neill in Danville. Much of the area is rural, with the windmills and rolling hills surrounding Livermore offering opportunities for outdoor activities.



Here are a few of the East Bay's main cities; for more complete lists, see Inner East Bay and Outer East Bay.

  • 1 Alameda - An island community separated from Oakland by a narrow channel
  • 2 Antioch - Fairly large city on the shoreline of the Delta
  • 3 Berkeley - Home to the world famous University of California, Berkeley
  • 4 Concord - Birthplace of jazz legend Dave Brubeck
  • 5 Fremont - East Bay's 2nd largest city with one of the largest Afghan communities in the U.S. and the northern edge of Silicon Valley
  • 6 Hayward - California State University, East Bay
  • 7 Oakland - The East Bay's largest city, with enough cultural diversity to rival SF
  • 8 Pleasanton - One of America's wealthiest mid-size cities, with a (somewhat) historic district and numerous upscale restaurants
  • 9 Walnut Creek - The best shopping in the Bay Area behind San Francisco

Other destinations

  • 1 Del Valle Regional Park - This East Bay Regional Park District park surrounds Lake Del Valle, and includes wilderness areas with canyons, woodlands, grasslands, and some quite dramatic rock formations.
  • 2 Mount Diablo State Park - This 20,000-acre (80 km2) park provides great hiking opportunities on a mountain that dominates the landscape for most of central and eastern Contra Costa County. It offers an incredible viewshed, with views on clear days stretching 181 mi (291 km) to Mount Lassen.

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) manages numerous parklands throughout the East Bay. Some of them are contiguous but, in most cases, each park is separate. They also sometimes go by names like "regional wilderness", but they are still East Bay parks. The East Bay parks include several protected shorelines in the west; Del Valle Regional Park, Sunol Regional Wilderness, and Ohlone Regional Wilderness (the Ohlone Trail) in the south; and Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, Briones Regional Park, Las Trampas Regional Park, Tilden Regional Park, and Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the north. A longer list with more details can be found at the Hiking in the East Bay article. A popular destination in the EBRPD is Ardenwood House, in the Fremont area. It is a historic house with some parkland surrounding it.


Aerial of the Tri-Valley

What the locals call "the East Bay" is really two fairly distinct regions separated by the East Bay hills, the crest of the Berkeley Hills continuing into the Oakland Hills and the Pleasanton Ridge. In the inner East Bay west of the hills, the cities of Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro and Hayward rise from the edge of the San Francisco Bay up the western face of the foothills. The climate tends to be temperate, the culture diverse, the transit frequent, and the traffic horrendous.

In the outer East Bay on the eastern side of the hills, the towns of Walnut Creek, Pleasanton and Livermore lie in the area known as the Tri-Valley region (named for the Livermore, San Ramon and Amador valleys). The climate here is more like that of the San Joaquin Valley, with foggy winters and scorching summers. The population is more homogeneous, but the traffic is still pretty awful in some places and during the rush hour. Originally, when the small towns of the Tri-Valley area began to grow into suburbs in the 1970s, many people commuted over the hills to work in the South Bay, the Peninsula or the City. Today, many large corporations have offices in the Tri-Valley area, and the suburbs of Pleasanton and Walnut Creek are growing into small cities.

The historical change in the East Bay has been from Native American tribal lands to Spanish, then Mexican ranches; then to farms, ranches, and orchards; then multiple city centers and suburbs. In general, the more urban an area is, the less obvious this progression is, and the more you have to dig to find it.

Contra Costa County is divided into three parts simply referred to as: "West County" near Richmond, "Central County" for the booming area near Walnut Creek, Concord, and Mount Diablo, "East County" for the area near the Delta which includes Antioch or Brentwood.

Though pro sports have seen a dramatic exit from the area, the East Bay has two NCAA Division I sports programs:

  • The California Golden Bears field teams in 30 sports. Through the 2023–24 school year, most teams play in the Pac-12 Conference, but that league was the main casualty of the early-2020s conference realignment. Despite the geographic oddity, the Bears will join the Atlantic Coast Conference for 2024–25 and beyond. Most Cal sports venues on campus, with the most notable being the ancient Memorial Stadium (football), which sits right over the Hayward Fault.
  • The Saint Mary's Gaels, representing Saint Mary's College in Moraga, field teams in 19 sports, mostly in the West Coast Conference. Unlike Cal, Saint Mary's doesn't have a football team. Men's basketball is the hot-button sport here, with NCAA tournament appearances not unheard of.

Get in


By plane


The only major airport in the East Bay is Oakland International Airport (OAK IATA) in Oakland. San Francisco International Airport (SFO IATA) across the Bay and San Jose's San Jose International Airport (SJC IATA) in the South Bay are the other major airports in the area.

By car


Bridges connect the East Bay with Marin County, San Francisco, and the Peninsula. Also, the I-580 connects the Central Valley with the East Bay via Altamont Pass in the east.

By public transportation


BART connects the East Bay with San Francisco, and Amtrak serves this region as well.

Bus service, provided by Golden Gate Transit, is useful for entering the region from the North Bay; buses from Marin County stop in or near Richmond with connections to BART.

Get around

See also: Bay Area public transit
I-880: don't be fooled, this is in good traffic

By car


Due to the population exodus from "The City" (due to $$$ high prices and low bang for the buck) and the movement of some families from the west side of the hills, the eastern portion of the East Bay is growing very rapidly and the traffic has gotten worse over the years.

There are several freeways in the East Bay, including the I-80, I-580, I-680, and the I-880. However, the large number of commuters from Stockton, Tracy, the Tri-Valley, and the Fremont area to Silicon Valley can mean that southbound traffic is poor in the weekday mornings and northbound traffic is poor during late afternoons and evenings.

By public transportation


BART lines in the East Bay radiate out from Oakland after crossing the Bay from San Francisco; this means they're very useful for getting around the cities along the bay, but their convenience starts to decrease when you go east of the Oakland hills.

AC Transit bus service is useful for getting around the dense urban parts of the East Bay west of the hills (Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda), but doesn't have much service in the eastern part of the region, where a handful of other transit agencies operate instead: Tri Delta Transit in the northeast, Wheels in the south, and County Connection somewhere in the middle.


Lake del Valle in the southeastern East Bay

The local scenery consists of some rolling peaks, higher mountains, and wooded regions in the west. Mount Diablo sticks out like a sore thumb toward the north; in the south, generally the mountains are parts of ridges, so they do not stand out so much. The picture on the right is a fairly good example of countryside on the southern side of the East Bay.

The urban areas in the west of the East Bay can be gritty, but there are some quality museums, interesting cityscapes, and vibrant arts scenes. UC Berkeley is a highlight.





The East Bay Regional Park District maintains 65 parks across the East Bay, ranging from easy access picnic areas to off-limits wildlife sanctuaries. More than a dozen campsites range from "family camping" to backpack areas.

Berkeley and Oakland have frequent events, and the outer parts of the region have some as well, like the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton.

Travel topics




The University of California, Berkeley (often called "UC Berkeley" or just "Cal") is world renowned for its educational standards and its liberal viewpoint of most things. There is a Cal State school in Hayward (CSU East Bay - formerly known as "CSU Hayward"). There are many two year junior colleges here but one of the biggest is Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill.



There are many malls and shopping centers in the East Bay. Sunvalley Mall (Concord), Stoneridge Mall (Pleasanton), Bay Fair Mall (San Leandro), Newpark Mall (Newark), and Southland Mall (Hayward) are some of the largest.



The two main area codes are (510) for the inner East Bay, and (925) for the outer East Bay. In 2019, (341) was introduced as an overlay for the (510) area, but "the 510" remains a symbol of local identity in the inner East Bay.

Go next

  • North Bay – not as densely populated as other parts of the Bay Area, but home to wine country and natural scenery.
  • South Bay – this is where San Jose and Santa Clara can be found, and is known for being a major center of technology.
  • The Peninsula – a suburban region on the west side of the San Francisco Bay and is a peninsula that goes from the South Bay to the Golden Gate.

This region travel guide to East Bay is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.