Emeryville is going through a period of aggressive re-development started during the 1990s and 2000s, where industrial factories and warehouses are being replaced by modern retail and residential uses. Much of this was spurred by anti-development policies in neighbors such as Berkeley and Oakland.
The city is also known for its IKEA store and tech companies, such as Pixar studios. The city is featured on a map in the film "The Incredibles" with actual street names.
Oakland International Airport (OAK) is the obvious choice, but SFO will also do. From the airports, see rail section on BART.
BART is the regional heavy rail service which will connect you to San Francisco, Oakland, and other cities in the Bay Area. Sadly, there is no BART station in Emeryville, but simply get off BART at the MacArthur station in Oakland and take the free Emery-Go-Round  shuttle. Warning: MacArthur is not recommended at night due to high danger of violent crime.
Emeryville is home to the Bay Area's major Amtrak  station, which is located just east of the Public Market. Amtrak buses run from the Emeryville station across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. Two long distance Amtrak routes run daily to and from Emeryville: The California Zephyr  route connects Emeryville to Chicago via Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno. The Coast Starlight  route runs from Los Angeles to Portland (Oregon) and Seattle via Emeryville.
Amtrak also operates two short distance trains through Emeryville: The Capitol Corridor  runs 16 times daily (11 on weekends and holidays) between Sacramento and Oakland, with some trains running south to San Jose. The San Joaquins  runs 4 times daily between Bakersfield, Stockton and Oakland, with a stop in Emeryville.
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:
Driving is the best way to get around Emeryville. However, expect traffic delays if you want to go anywhere near Ikea or the Bay St. Mall.
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. The Emeryville Marina has stunning views of San Francisco and the greater bay: take Powell Ave. west of I-80.
Large chain stores are found in abundance in Emeryville. Bay Street Emeryville is a large outdoor, "main street" style shopping center parallel to Shellmound past Christie that includes an AMC Movie Theater, Barnes & Noble, EQ3 Furniture, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, and many sit-down restaurants including P.F. Chang's, Elephant Bar, California Pizza Kitchen, Pomodoro, ZAO Noodle Bar, and numerous fast-casual restaurants. Ikea is adjacent to the shopping center. Emeryville Bay Bridge Center, with several "big-box" retailers such as Home Depot, EXPO, and others, is further down on 40th St., (actually the same street as Shellmound), near San Pablo Ave.
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.
The large stores, the Public Market, and the Amtrak station are all safe areas. Large streets except San Pablo Ave. south of Powell are also safe. Treat Emeryville with the same safety attitudes you would treat a large city like San Francisco.