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Town of Mariposa, CA

Mariposa Courthouse in Mariposa, CA

A charmingly preserved Gold Rush town in Central Mariposa County surrounded by beautiful scenery, the town of Mariposa will have something to offer to every traveler. Take a scenic hike, go on a culture-filled museum tour, or try one of Mariposa County’s delicious small-town restaurants and breweries.

The town of Mariposa, first settled in 1849, is one of the southernmost of the Gold Rush towns.  The streets follow the original street grid laid out by John C. Fremont in 1850.  Several disastrous early fires convinced settlers to rebuild with stone, brick, and adobe.  Consequently, many of today’s existing structures in the historic downtown area of Mariposa had been built by the late 1850s, with most of the remaining ones completed by 1900.  Because they have always been in use, the old buildings haven’t had to be restored or recreated.

Change has come gracefully to Mariposa, retaining the small town charm of a bygone era, so you won’t see strip malls or chain stores, and Mariposa remains one of a handful of California towns without a stop light.

With Yosemite National Park in Mariposa’s backyard, tourism played a role as far back as the 1870s, though it didn’t really take off until automobile travel did too. Nowadays, about four million people visit Yosemite National Park each year. Over the years, the county has become host to a wide variety of popular annual festivals. Whichever month you arrive in, you’re bound to find something fun going on.

Things to Do in Mariposa, CA

Mariposa Hiking and Adventure

Trails at Stockton Creek Preserve above Mariposa, CA

Enjoy an easy and convenient hike through Stockton Creek Preserve which borders downtown Mariposa, CA.

It’s a quick step from the charming streets of the town of Mariposa into the Stockton Creek Preserve. This area, managed by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, contains more than 5 miles (8 km) of rolling trails that meanders across hillsides and along Stockton Creek for a quick dose of natural beauty. In early spring, you’ll find blooming wildflowers, and the colorful butterflies that give Mariposa its name (mariposa is Spanish for butterfly). And best of all – these trails are open to pets too, so everyone can enjoy a hike together. This trail more than earns the title of one of the best hikes in and around Yosemite.

Mariposa is also the best place to get a view of Yosemite from above. Way above. Skydive Yosemite operates out of the Mariposa Yosemite airport, and is unquestionably the most thrilling view of Yosemite. You get full 360 panoramas the moment you’re free of the plane on a tandem skydive, though you will have more time to savor the view once you’re under a canopy floating gently toward the earth. And if you would like to stay inside the plane, thank you very much, be sure to check out Airborrn Aviation Services for more flightseeing options.

That doesn’t even mention the many camera-worthy sights and trails just outside of town. Discover hidden gems, like the best local display of spring wildflowers at Hite Cove on the way to Yosemite.

Mariposa Lodging

Mariposa Hotel Inn in downtown Mariposa, CA

You can’t beat the Mariposa Hotel Inn for an authentic historic western experience.

As spectacular as the surroundings are, you can also find a great place to stay in the town of Mariposa. The hotels in Mariposa span the range from spacious accommodations at Miners Inn, through the reliable quality of the Best Western Plus Yosemite Way Station, to special stays at historic hotels like the Mariposa Hotel Inn or the River Rock Inn.

For a personal experience you won’t forget, try one of Mariposa’s welcoming Bed and Breakfasts, like the Restful Nest, or Yosemite Plaisance. Or choose the privacy of one of Mariposa’s many vacation rentals, like the Yosemite Mountaintop Retreat on 100 acres of private land with an outdoor pool and jacuzzi overlooking the mountains, or a cozy home away from home in town like The Loft at 1850.

Museums of Mariposa

Stamp Mill at the Mariposa Museum & History Center

See for yourself why the Mariposa Museum and History Center was recognized by the Smithsonian Institute as one of the best small museums in America. Outdoor exhibits like this five stamp mill is a teaser for the interesting stories and historic artifacts that you’ll find within.

Experience pioneer history in the exhibits at the Mariposa Museum and History Center named one of the best small museums in America by the Smithsonian Institute.

Get a fascinating glimpse of California’s mineral wealth, colorful history and geologic diversity at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. The State’s official collection contains over 13,000 gems, minerals, and mining artifacts, including the “Fricot Nugget,” a rare and beautiful 13.8-pound piece of crystalline gold found in the American River in 1864. Visit

Or combine the amazing rocks of Yosemite Mariposa County with tales of pioneers of a different type at the Yosemite Climbing Association Museum & Gallery. The trailblazers of Yosemite rock climbing pioneered new routes into the vertical world of Yosemite’s steep granite walls. Immerse yourself in their stories of daring, adventure, and camaraderie with museum displays of historic climbing gear and images taken by classic climbing photographers like Tom Frost.

Mariposa Restaurants and Dining

Epic burgers at the 1850 Restaurant in Mariposa

After finishing a long day on the trails and exploring Yosemite, you’ll love sitting down to a hearty meal at a restaurant in Mariposa, CA. Just look at this amazing burger from 1850 Restaurant!

In addition to history, Mariposa, CA is also rich in restaurants and dining opportunities, with many tasty options close by and easy to explore. Find local brews at Mariposa’s 1850 Restaurant along with gourmet burgers that are literally the talk of the town. Sit down to a celebratory meal at Charles Street Dinner House where you’ll find delectable fare in a comfortable and welcoming setting. Or get into the groove at the Grove House with live music, 16 craft beers on tap, and a rotating farm-to-table menu that the whole family will love.

Explore more Yosemite restaurants for the best places to eat in Mariposa County.

Mariposa, CA History and Landmarks

Mariposa Courthouse

Visit the oldest working courthouse west of the Rockies in the town of Mariposa, CA. The Mariposa County courthouse was first buildin 1854.

In your travels through the town of Mariposa County, you might hear it referred to as the “Mother of Counties.” That’s not meant as a boast. When California was granted statehood in 1850, Mariposa County was by far the largest county, comprising about one-fifth of the state. (It was later subdivided into eleven additional counties.)

Soon after, the discovery of gold lured prospectors by the thousands, all with dreams of striking it rich. The easy gold only lasted for a couple of decades, but it lasted long enough for roads and railroads to be built. Communities evolved even as the local economy was shifting to quartz mining, ranching, farming, and logging.

Today’s visitors to Mariposa will find many remnants from those early days, from preserved landmarks to obscure ruins—all of them a

Feel the Old West as you stroll up the historic main street or take a tour of the 1854 Mariposa County Courthouse, the oldest courthouse west of the Rockies still in continuous operation and Completed in 1854, the Mariposa County Courthouse is the oldest superior courthouse west of the Mississippi and the oldest courthouse in continuous use west of the Rockies. Feel free to take a peek inside during normal business hours. (Naturally, security checks and rules of appropriate behavior are in effect.) Free to the public. Call 209-966-7081 to set up your tour.

Events in Mariposa

Music on the Green in Mariposa, CA

Be sure to keep your eyes open for events in Mariposa – from free summer Music on the Green concerts to the Mariposa Butterfly Festival and so much more.

With Yosemite National Park in Mariposa’s backyard, tourism played a role as far back as the 1870s, though it didn’t really take off until automobile travel did too. Nowadays, about four million people visit Yosemite National Park each year. Over the years, the county has become host to a wide variety of popular annual festivals and events. Whichever month you arrive in, you’re bound to find something fun going on.

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