Whether you want to browse art galleries, historic museums, zip line or enjoy tastings of beer, wine and olive oil, you will find plenty of fun activities in the charming little town of Mariposa, just outside Yosemite National Park’s west entrance.
Mariposa County Courthouse by Charlie Phillips
Stay in Mariposa and discover all there is to do in this charming Gold Rush town. Explore the grounds of the Mariposa County Courthouse, completed in 1854, this historic icon is the oldest operating courthouse west of the Rockies. Venture from the courthouse down to main street where you can taste locally produced wine and olive oil, visit art galleries, or get lunch at one of the many fine eateries featuring fresh and local fare. To better understand the lives of the pioneers and miners who once called Mariposa home (and still do!) visit the Mariposa Mining and Mineral Museum or the Mariposa Museum and History Center. Voted one of the best small museums by the Smithsonian Institute, the Mariposa Museum and History Center features a working stampmill and authentic mining equipment and curios from the age of the Gold Rush. Gold panning is available for those who want to try their luck at the Mariposa Mining and Mineral Museum.
Take an inner tube down the down the south fork of the Merced River (from late July to September) and camp out along the banks of Briceburg.
Dine at the June Bug Cafe
After your river adventure, why not stop at the June Bug Café for fantastic local dining or grab a pizza at Parkside Pizza in El Portal. If it’s a Friday or Saturday, you can head back into Mariposa for free live Music on The Green at the Arts Park, hosted by the Mariposa Arts Council. While there sample micro-brewed, hand-crafted beer at 1850 or stop in at Bridalveil Brewing to taste unique brewing styles or taste wine at Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art.
From Mariposa, you can take Highway 140 straight into Yosemite Valley via the scenic Merced River Canyon. A beautiful drive with views of the river and plenty of opportunities to cool off with a swim.
Another option from Mariposa to Yosemite is to take Highway 49S to Highway 41 in Oakhurst and enter Yosemite through the south entrance, then another hour to the valley floor. A different type of terrain can be found along this beautiful drive. Instead of the scrubby oaks and foothills of the northern Yosemite region, you’ll find the south has a more alpine feel, with majestic sugarpine and cedar forests lining the road to Wawona. In Fishcamp, stop and check out the activities at Tenaya Lodge or visit the Pioneer Yosemite History Center in Wawona.
Whistling Billy Locomotive
Or you can also take Highway 49N towards Highway 120 or take the scenic John Muir Highway to enter the park’s north entrance. There is arguably no more scenic drive then the famous Bagby Grade with it’s winding curves and vast views of Sierra foothills. Stop in the rugged Gold Rush-era town of Coulterville for a photo with Whistling Billy, a locomotive engine from the 1880s.
After a long day of old west adventures you will no doubt find yourself getting sleepy. We have got you covered! Lay your head at one of our many great hotels or stay the way locals do at a cozy vacation rental.
There are endless things to do in California. Take a look at some of our favorites – and they can all be done in or close to Yosemite National Park.
It’s easy to find peace & quiet, even in a busy park like Yosemite. Use these simple tips to step off the beaten path and maximize solitude and wonder on your trip to Yosemite and Mariposa County.
Discover the best birding locations in Yosemite Mariposa County. Birdwatchers love the wide variety of species found in Yosemite Mariposa County, from the clear piping of the Black-capped Chickadees that fill the air to rare species like the Phainopepla. Grab your binoculars and come to see the birds in Mariposa County.