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17 Best Things to Do in Mariposa, California  

17 Best Things to Do in Mariposa, California  

Mariposa, California, is a small and charming town mostly known today as an attractive tourist destination. The city played a role in the California Gold Rush as a mining town in the late 1880s when gold ore was discovered nearby.

It served as Mariposa County’s seat and was named after the beautiful monarch butterflies seen by early explorers in the area. Mariposa is also close to Yosemite National Park and has many hiking trails and rock climbing options, making it an attractive and enjoyable place to visit.

What is Mariposa, California, known for?

Mariposa is known for its old western history, such as its two-story county courthouse, the oldest still operating west of the Rocky Mountains. Mariposa was also home to John C. Fremont, who was a United States Senator and the first-ever Republican candidate for president.

Mariposa is also known as Mariposa County’s most popular tourist destination. Thankfully, there are plenty of things to do in Mariposa, California, including visiting a history center that celebrates the California Gold Rush.

You can experience wine-tasting expeditions, hiking trails throughout the Sierra Nevada Foothills, and even music from the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra. Knowing about the best things to do in Mariposa, California, can make your visit here more enjoyable and well worth planning.

Mariposa is also known as one of the closest towns to Yosemite National Park. The trip to Yosemite from Mariposa is just over an hour, making it a great base if you want to visit Yosemite without camping. Many Yosemite tour options depart from Mariposa on any given day.

TL;DR

When planning what to do in Mariposa, there are many things to do that may attract you. The following tourist attractions are popular throughout Mariposa County and provide you with plenty of engaging things to do with every visit:

  • Most significant landmark – California State Mining and Mineral Museum
  • Best park – Yosemite National Park
  • Free activity – Mariposa County’s Old Stone Jail
  • Activity for kids – California State Mining and Mineral Museum
  • Activity for adults – Butterfly Creek Winery
  • Place to eat – Charles Street Dinner House
  • Place to stayLittle Valley Inn

Things to Do in Mariposa, California

1. Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour, Including Hotel Pickup

Yosemite National Park

Address: 8462 North Friant, Fresno, CA 93650

Located within easy driving distance of Mariposa, California, this Yosemite Valley trip will pick you up in either Fresno, Oakhurst, Fish Camp or Mariposa and includes a nine-hour journey through Yosemite National Park with amazing and beautiful sights.

This tour consists of hiking on a four-mile trail through Yosemite Valley. Along the way, you will see Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls, some of the most popular landmarks in Yosemite National Park.

You’ll also visit Yosemite Park destinations like Glacier Point, Curry Village, the Yosemite Climbing Museum, and the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.

Viator offers group booking options for this trip and free cancellation. Trips to places like the Yosemite Climbing Museum and help from the Yosemite Climbing Association may require extra tickets, so be prepared.

Lunch and water, including turkey, dagwood, and vegetarian sandwiches, are provided for visitors. Transportation to and from the site is provided for all guests to make this process easier. You can stay at Little Valley Inn, a comfortable B&B, between your trips.

See Related: Best California Road Trips

2. Mariposa County’s Old Stone Jail, Mariposa, California

Mariposa County’s Old Stone Jail
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 5379 CA-49, Mariposa, CA 95338

Mariposa County has one of California’s longest and richest histories, and this spot is a unique destination many will enjoy. Not far from downtown Mariposa, the old Stone Jail history center is definitely a place to visit if you want to check out one of the most interesting historic sites this town has to offer.

The Old Stone Jail was built in 1858 using granite blocks from nearby Mormon Bar and remained in operation for over 100 years. Though it closed in 1963, it remains one of the most popular historic sites in Mariposa, California. Guests can check out the exterior of the building to relieve part of Mariposa’s past.

See Related: Things to Do in The Bay Area, California

3. Butterfly Creek Winery and Vineyards, Mariposa, California

Butterfly Creek Winery and Vineyards Scenery
image by Loucks4/TripAdvisor

Address: 4063 Triangle Road, Mariposa, CA 95338

Butterfly Creek Winery is a popular winery destination within Mariposa County. Not far from Yosemite National Park or the Mariposa Yosemite Airport, Butterfly Creek Winery includes diverse wines that make it an appealing option for adult visitors.

The winery specializes in merlot, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, and sauvignon blanc. Butterfly Creek Winery uses mountain spring water and the Sierra Nevada soil to produce all their wines, focusing on quality over quantity when producing fresh or early harvest blends.

The vineyard’s proximity to Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Valley gives you beautiful views from their tasting room or outdoor sitting area. While enjoying fine wine, you can meet new friends and join their VIP club to save money on purchases.

Butterfly Creek Winery also includes event-hosting options for people visiting the Mariposa County region. This locally owned company will help you set up weddings, family reunions, or corporate events and host outdoor activities for you and your family members. It’s a popular option for people throughout nearby cities and is a fun time for couples or solo adventurers.

See Related: Best Wineries in Temecula to Visit

4. Hideout Saloon

Hideout Saloon
image by angie g/TripAdvisor

Address: 5031 State Highway 140 Suite F, Mariposa, CA 95338

When you’ve had enough of visiting museum and history center destinations, and you want a drink and a bite to eat, Hideout Saloon is an excellent choice.

Located in Mariposa County’s Gold Rush Historic District, this old-school saloon creates a fun atmosphere that mimics the look and feel of the Old West. It includes a diverse menu of local beers, liquors, cocktails, and wines.

Beyond drinks, the menu includes soups, sandwiches, pasta, pizzas, burgers, and salads that get rave reviews. Located near other fun destinations, the Hideout Saloon is a great place to order a pizza and relax at night’s end. It even has regular live music performances by local artists, dart boards, pool tables, and much more.

During the day, it has a more kid-friendly atmosphere, including fun drinks and dining options, which may make this a popular spot to eat while visiting Mariposa, California.

When you’ve had enough national fast-food chains and want something different to eat for the day, this Mariposa dining option will work well for you and your kids. You can also rent a comfy cabin experience here, such as the Smoky View Chalet cabin.

See Related: Things to Do in Mendocino, California

5. Yosemite: Audio Driving Tour

Yosemite Road Trip

If you plan on staying at the best auto camp Yosemite has to offer or want a self-guided tour that you can take multiple times, you may enjoy this option!

This self-guided tour from GyPSy includes an extensive history lesson, local tips for visiting Mariposa, California, and directions that help guide you to beautiful spots throughout Yosemite and ensure you learn more about the park.

You can book this guide through Viator and download the lecture directly to your phone. This lets you tour offline using your GPS service, meaning you need no cell service or WiFi to enjoy it!

Even better, you get no time limit or expiration date, meaning you can head back to your destination after participating in the tour and start again on the next day to learn more.

I recommend AutoCamp Yosemite if you plan to stay a night or two in the area. AutoCamp Yosemite offers free wifi throughout the property and is a great place to base yourself while visiting Yosemite National Park.

If you stay in the park and plan on rock climbing, you may want travel insurance to protect yourself in case of injury. We recommend using TravelInsurance.com to find the best policy that fits your travel needs.

See Related: Things to do in Santa Maria

6. Mariposa Symphony Orchestra

Mariposa Symphony Orchestra Performance
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: Highway 140, Mariposa, CA 95338

Do you want a break from outdoor destinations and need a place to enjoy some classy and enjoyable music? You may love checking out the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra!

This well-regarded group played in several locations throughout Mariposa and was established as a chamber music group in 2002. The musical group now includes a full-sized orchestra that performs many different selections.

They’re known to play favorites like Beethoven and Mozart, including extended suites and symphonies. Furthermore, they also play beautiful religious music, like Bach’s many masses, as well as popular modern-day favorites.

It’s also not unusual to hear them playing movie themes or adapting and arranging classics from video game favorites, such as The Legend of Zelda series. Amazingly, they play in Mariposa County and two other counties, traveling far and wide to bring world-class entertainment to classical music fans.

You can often hear them playing near Charles Street Dinner House, or you can swing by their latest performance near the Mariposa Museum and History Center.

7. Mariposa Stage Line

Mariposa Stage Line Carriage
image by Manegement/TripAdvisor

Address: Old Town, Mariposa, CA 95338

Mariposa County’s unique role in the Gold Rush has made historical preservation a huge deal in the area. The Mariposa Stage Line is an authentic reproduction of the stagecoach line that ran through the town in the mid to late 1800s.

You start your stagecoach trip in the Old Town across from the Mariposa Museum and History Center, giving you a unique view of the area. During your trip, you’ll go past things like the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, various authentic buildings dating back to the city’s early days, and much more.

You’ll also get to meet and interact with beautiful and majestic horses and learn more about the area from one of the line’s many friendly and informative drivers.

Throughout your visit, you can experience performances that recreate the wild adventures of those long-ago times. Kids often love this attraction because they’ll see shootouts, hear actors speaking in exaggerated accents, and feed the horses as they ride.

See Related: Things to Do in Venice Beach, California

8. Jeep 4 X 4 Yosemite Tour with Hotel Pickup

Yosemite Park 4X 4 Jeep
image by Viator

When visiting Mariposa, Yosemite should be one of your first destinations. If you feel uncomfortable exploring the park alone and need help, this fantastic Jeep Tour will work well for your needs!

During your trip, your guide will take you through Yosemite’s most beautiful and rugged areas, showing you this region’s amazing outdoor beauty.

You’ll learn more about the park, get the chance to take photos, climb with professionals, and get the hands-on exploration that you want from experienced tour guides who fully understand the region’s unique qualities.

9. Mariposa Marketplace

Mariposa Marketplace
image by Mariposa Marketplace/Facebook

Address: 5024-B Highway 140, Mariposa, CA 95338

Mariposa Marketplace is an expansive shopping center that spans two floors and provides Mariposa, California, residents and visitors with many shops. These include antiques, collectibles, clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and restaurants.

Even if you don’t enjoy shopping, Mariposa Market has plenty of fun things to do. The building is over 4,000 square feet and includes places to sit, relax, and even grab a bite to eat.

The marketplace is located within the Trabucco Building, one of the oldest buildings still standing in Mariposa. It was built with locally sourced Mormon Bar granite, making it a landmark in Mariposa County.

You can also enjoy various art decorations, arcade activities, and more. These diverse options make Mariposa Marketplace fun for families and something you shouldn’t miss when visiting Mariposa, California.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Monterey, California

10. California State Mining and Mineral Museum

California State Mining and Mineral Museum Exhibit

Address: 5005 Fairgrounds Road, Mariposa, CA 95338

California’s history is so heavily focused on mining and the gold mining experience that Mariposa provides two different museums focused on this industry.

This mining museum will teach you and your family about how gold mining developed throughout the region and discuss what other minerals, such as quartz and iron, are common throughout the area.

You’ll learn about how the Sierra Nevada foothills were transformed forever the day that gold was discovered near Mariposa. Explore authentic mining equipment, watch extensive discussions on gold mining, and experience authentic recreations of the mining experience.

Walking into this museum is like walking into a time machine and stepping into the Sierra Nevada Hills of the 1800s.

11. Mariposa Museum and History Center, Mariposa, Caliofornia

Mariposa Museum and History Center Exhibit
image by Antho GX/TripAdvisor

Address: 5119 Jessie Street, Mariposa, CA 95338

This fantastic museum documents the rich history of Mariposa and is often referred to as the “Best Little Museum of Its Size West of the Mississippi” by many publications. It earned this distinction from the Smithsonian Institution, which is highly praised.

Visitors to the Mariposa Museum and History Center can explore Mariposa history and learn more about discovering gold and its impact on the region.

This museum is particularly acclaimed for its focus on Native American history throughout the region and over time. Visitors will learn more about the Native experience and how the gold transformed their lives positively and negatively.

You’ll also see authentic items from this long-ago time, such as tools for gold expeditions. Families can also explore recreations of Mariposa streets, learning more about how people lived during these times. This in-depth focus on Mariposa will give you and your family the desired educational experience.

See Related: Best Things to Do in California

12. Gold Panning with Prospect Yosemite

Couple in Prospect Yosemite Gold Planning
image by Prospect Yosemite/Facebook

Address: 4958 13th Street, Mariposa, CA 95338

Prospecting for gold seemed to promise a better life for many people during the gold migrations of the late 1800s. While not everybody had the same level of success, this amazing event helped transform California and the West into a more populated and successful area.

You and your family can experience something similar at Prospect Yosemite, a fun outdoor adventure and state mining and mineral experience that provides educational opportunities for children and adults.

During your visit, you take prospecting and gold panning lessons and get to pan just like old prospectors. Will you find gold? That all depends on your luck and how well you pan!

Typically, there are small bits of gold placed throughout the area by Prospect Yosemite to ensure you and your children experience the excitement of hitting the motherlode.

If you get tired of panning or need a break, there are plenty of other things to do here, such as various team-building programs that make this a great option for corporate events.

See Related: Things to Do in Healdsburg, California

13. Yosemite Valley Full-Day Private Hike

Yosemite Valley Scenery

Address: Varies depending on where you get picked up.

Exploring Yosemite is one of the best things about visiting Mariposa, and this fully guided hike is one of the best ways to check out the park. It is an eight-hour trip with multiple starting times and pickup points throughout Mariposa. You typically book where you get picked up before you begin, such as at your hotel or a local restaurant.

During your trip, you’ll get a delicious continental breakfast, explore the river, and check out several main landmarks throughout Yosemite National Park. These landmarks include Tunnel Viewpoint, Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Falls.

You will also walk a one-mile trail and take beautiful photos before you enjoy another four-mile hike up John Muir Trail to Vernal Falls. Visitors can climb the falls to get staggering views. This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry; rests are carefully planned to avoid exhaustion.

Consider booking this trip on GetYourGuide ahead of time to get the best experience. This trip includes an experienced tour guide, round-trip transportation from the pick-up area, park entrance fees, breakfast, lunch, snacks, trekking poles, and tips.

This hiking tour is not a good option for kids under 10 years old because it is physically challenging but can be rewarding for teens who love exercise.

See Related: National Parks to Visit in November

14. Charles Street Dinner House

Charles Street Dinner House Building
image by TirsoMF/TripAdvisor

Address: Highway 140 and Seventh Street, Mariposa, CA 95338

This fantastic restaurant is the most popular dining option in Mariposa, California. It includes a comfortable, high-class atmosphere centered on fun and enjoyment of family dining.

Kids will enjoy the food here just as much as the adults, with each dish carefully prepared by experienced professional chefs. The diverse lunch and dinner menus provide many fairly priced meals.

Starters include delicious potato skins, coconut prawns, and beer-battered onion rings that easily serve the whole table. Soups and salads include specially created French onion soup and a grilled chicken Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing. The main dishes include pasta, chicken, pork, steak, fish, lobster, burgers, lamb, and various desserts for when you finish your meal.

Prices here are competitive with similar dining establishments in the area. Visitors also get the chance to enjoy some comfortable and relaxing music while they eat. The drink menu includes various kid-friendly sodas and juices, as well as adult-oriented options, such as beer, liquor, cocktails, and more.

15. Skydive Yosemite

Skydive Yosemite Experience
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 5020c Macready Way, Mariposa, CA 95338

If you want to experience true excitement in and around Mariposa, Skydive Yosemite may be your best option. This tour includes tandem drops from the Mariposa-Yosemite Airport and provides you with training and education before you jump.

This way, you can safely leap from a plane for the first time without fear. Tandem diving also includes help from a professional skydiver who can keep you safe.

During your safety courses, you’ll learn how to prepare for your jump, professional techniques for landing, how to clear the plane safely when you leap, and much more.

After free-fall, you’ll deploy your parachute and float safely to the ground with your trainer. During your jump, you’ll also get the chance to take photos and take them back to show your friends and family.

People who are uncomfortable with skydiving may take a flight tour instead. This service from Skydive Yosemite includes a bird’s eye view of Yosemite and provides unique sightseeing opportunities. Take photos from unbelievable angles and share them with your loved ones or post them on social media.

See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples

16. The House That Dabbles, Mariposa, California

House That Dabbles
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 4996 8th Street, Mariposa, CA95338

Do you need something a little less wild to do while you’re in Mariposa? We all need a little rest, and The House That Dabbles is a good way to unwind after a busy day.

This unique experience includes rare and mainstream games, like board games, dice, and card games you can play with friends. These include old-school favorites and modern classics.

For example, you can play chess, checkers, and even “Go” with friends, family members, or other visitors. You can also play and purchase modern games like Carcassone and Settles of Catan. Regular game tournaments help to make this destination a great stop for the modern gamer in all of us.

Thankfully, The House That Dabbles also includes the Snack Shack, a place to buy a quick bite. You can buy soda, water, juices, chips, cookies, and more in this shop.

After relaxing with your favorite board game, eating a snack can help refresh your mind and prepare you for the day. Don’t forget: this shop also includes regional and local games you can’t find elsewhere!

17. Silver Apron, Lower Chilnualna Falls, and Wildcat Falls, Mariposa, California

Silver Apron between Nevada and Vernal Falls

Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, CA 95338

Few Yosemite destinations are as beautiful as Silver Apron, Lower Chilnualna Falls, and Wildcat Falls. These are two major waterfalls in the Merced River Giant Stairway sector.

Silver Apron is one of the lesser-known parts of Yosemite because it requires a long hike on the John Muir Trail. However, finding and seeing it is a beautiful site and is one of the best things to do in the area.

Another great destination within the park is the Lower Chilnualna Falls, which has a winding trail with an extensive climb that takes four to six hours to complete. This trail is suggested only to experienced hikers.

If you don’t like hiking the trail, you can visit the falls and check out their natural beauty. Bring some food and rest for a while to let the day’s worries flow out of you.

Wildcat Falls is also in the same Giant Stairway area and includes beautiful flowing water just two-and-a-half miles north of the Arch Rock entrance station in Yosemite.

There are picnic areas where you and your family can relax and even campgrounds not far away. Though you do have to pay to camp, Wildcat Falls is otherwise free to visit after paying your Yosemite entrance fee.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in California: SoCal & NorCal Spots

Places to Stay in Mariposa

1. Yosemite Cabin in the Woods Top Recommendation

Looking for the perfect Yosemite getaway? Look no further than Yosemite Cabin in the Woods! This cozy cabin features all the amenities you need for a comfortable and relaxing stay, including a hot tub, fully-equipped kitchen, and private bathroom. Plus, its convenient location just 30.6 km from El Portal makes it easy to explore all that the area has to offer. Whether you're looking to hike through stunning forests or relax in your own private oasis, Yosemite Cabin in the Woods is the perfect spot for you!

2. Mariposa Lodge

Looking for a cozy place to stay in Mariposa? Look no further than Mariposa Lodge! The charming hotel offers comfortable accommodations, free WiFi, and free parking - perfect for your getaway. The rooms are equipped with all the amenities you need for a relaxing stay, including a flat-screen TV, private bathroom, and picnic area. Pets are welcome, too! So come and enjoy all that Mariposa has to offer at Mariposa Lodge.

3. Little Valley Inn

Looking for a charming place to stay in Mariposa? Little Valley Inn offers garden views, free WiFi, and free private parking. Each unit features a patio, air conditioning, a dining area, and a seating area with a satellite flat-screen TV. There is also a private bathroom with shower and hairdryer, along with free toiletries. Little Valley Inn offers a continental or buffet breakfast each morning, so you can start your day off right.

Getting around Mariposa

Mariposa, California, is a very walkable destination, with spots like the Mariposa County Visitor Center and not too far from most hotels in the region. However, getting to areas like Skydive Yosemite will take extra transportation. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for visitors who would rather not drive themselves.

Taxi Services

Mariposa has several taxi services that can help take you to where you need to go in this town. These include Merced Taxi Cab Company, Sierra Taxi Limousine, and Alianza Taxi.

Call ahead to set up your pickup and delivery when doing fun things like exploring the many museum and history center destinations in the area. Prices vary depending on your destination.

Car Rental Options

In Mariposa, California, visitors can rent cars from nearby Oakhurst or Merced. These include Hertz Rent-a-Car in Oakhurst, Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Oakhurst, and Budget Rent-a-Car in Merced.

You can book for your whole trip and take out a short-term insurance policy to protect yourself. Booking ahead of time helps to improve your chances of finding an inexpensive car for your trip.

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