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 serves as Mariposa County’s seat and was named after the beautiful monarch butterflies seen by early explorers in the area. Mariposa is also closed to Yosemite National Park and has many hiking trails and rock climbing options that make it an attractive and enjoyable place to visit.
When asking “what is Mariposa, California, known for?” you mostly learn about things like its two-story county courthouse, which is 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 by far. 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 for being 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’re looking to visit Yosemite without camping. You’ll find many Yosemite tour options departing from Mariposa on any given day.
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!
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.
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.
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
- Best free activity – Mariposa County’s Old Stone Jail
- Best activity for kids – California State Mining and Mineral Museum
- Best activity for adults – Butterfly Creek Winery
- Best food – Charles Street Dinner House
- Best all-around accommodation – Little Valley Inn
Fun & Best Things to Do in Mariposa, California
1. Full-Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour Including Hotel Pickup
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 that features 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, all of which are 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 are provided for visitors, including turkey, dagwood, and vegetarian sandwiches. 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
Address: 5379 CA-49, Mariposa, CA 95338
Mariposa County has one of the longest and richest histories in California, 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 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: Fun & Best Things to Do in The Bay Area, California
3. Butterfly Creek Winery and Vineyards, Mariposa, California
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 a diverse array of wines that make it an appealing option for adult visitors.
The winery specializes in options like 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 some fine wine, you can meet new friends and join their VIP club to save money on your 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 for you 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
Address: 5031 State Highway 140 Suite F, Mariposa, CA 95338
When you’ve had enough of visiting museum and history center destinations, and you just want a drink and a bite to eat, Hideout Saloon is a great option!
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 drink menu with local beers, liquors, cocktails, and wines.
Beyond drinks, the menu also includes soups, sandwiches, pasta, pizzas, burgers, and salads that get rave reviews. Located not far from other fun destinations, the Hideout Saloon is a great place to order a pizza and relax at the end of the night. 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 of national fast-food chains, and you 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 near here, such as the Smoky View Chalet cabin.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Mendocino, California
5. Yosemite: Audio Driving Tour
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 that 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 taking just part of 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 do end up staying in the park and plan on doing things like rock climbing, you may want travel insurance to protect yourself in case of injury like the World Nomads travel insurance.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Santa Maria, California
6. Mariposa Symphony Orchestra
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 plays 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 even adapted and arranged classics from video game favorites, such as The Legend of Zelda series.
Amazingly, they not only play in Mariposa County but in 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
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 right 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 the chance 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: Fun & Best Things to do in Venice Beach, California
8. Jeep 4 X 4 Yosemite Tour with Hotel Pickup
When visiting Mariposa, Yosemite should be one of your first destinations. If you feel uncomfortable exploring the park on your own and need some help, this fantastic Jeep Tour will work well for your needs!
During your trip, your guide will take you through some of the most beautiful and rugged areas of Yosemite, 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
Address: 5024-B Highway 140, Mariposa, CA 95338
Mariposa Marketplace is an expansive shopping center that spans two floors and which 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 itself is over 4,000 square feet and includes places to sit and 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 the building a significant landmark in Mariposa County.
You can also enjoy various art decorations, arcade activities, and much more. These diverse options make Mariposa Marketplace a fun option for families and something that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Mariposa, California.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Monterey, California
10. California State Mining and Mineral Museum
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 are common throughout the area, such as quartz and iron.
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
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 high praise indeed.
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 both in positive and negative ways.
You’ll also get the chance to see authentic items from this long-ago time, such as tools used for gold expeditions and much more. Families can also explore recreations of Mariposa streets, learning more about how people lived during these times.
This in-depth focus on Mariposa will provide you and your family with the educational experience that you want.
See Related: Best Things to Do in California
12. Gold Panning with Prospect Yosemite
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 the chance 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 that you and your children experience the excitement of hitting the motherlode.
If you get tired of panning or simply 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
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 that includes 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 along the way 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 because it is physically challenging but can be rewarding for teens who love exercise.
See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November
14. Charles Street Dinner House
Address: Highway 140 and Seventh Street, Mariposa, CA 95338
This fantastic restaurant is by far the most popular dining option in Mariposa, California. It includes a comfortable and high-class atmosphere centered on family dining fun and enjoyment.
Kids will enjoy the food here just as much as the adults, with each dish being 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 will serve the whole table with ease. 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
Address: 5020c Macready Way, Mariposa, CA 95338
If you want to experience true excitement in and around Mariposa, Skydive Yosemite may be the best option for you.
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 you 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 you with 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
Address: 4996 8th Street, Mariposa, CA95338
Do you feel like you need something a little less wild to do while you’re in Mariposa? We all need a little rest and relaxation, 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 that you can play with your friends. These include old-school favorites and modern classics.
For example, you can play chess, checkers, and even Go with your friends and 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 to eat. You can buy soda, water, juices, chips, cookies, and much more in this shop.
After relaxing with your favorite board game, eating a snack can help refresh your mind and get you ready 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
Address: Yosemite National Park, Mariposa County, CA 95338
Few destinations in Yosemite are quite as beautiful as Silver Apron, Lower Chilnualna Falls, and Wildcat Falls. These are two of the 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 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, as it 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 feel like hiking the trail, you can also visit the falls and check out their natural beauty. Bring along some food and rest 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
Getting around Mariposa, California
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 a little extra transportation. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for visitors who would rather not drive themselves.
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
Mariposa, California, visitors can rent cars from places like 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.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Mariposa?
The California State Mining and Mineral Museum is one of the best things to do with kids in Mariposa County. It is a popular destination and fun for kids and adults.
What are some fun things to do in Mariposa?
Mariposa County includes many fun activities, like the Mariposa Museum, the California State Mining Museum, a Mineral Museum, and visits to the Mariposa County Courthouse. You may also visit other destinations that may include artwork and performances from local artists or San Francisco pros.
What are some things to do in Mariposa when it’s raining?
Rain often ruins some of the most fun options in Mariposa, California, such as gold panning on the Merced River. Thankfully, the Mariposa Museum and History Center, Charles Street Dinner House, and Casto Oaks Fine Wine include indoor seating areas. These places often include things like historical climbing artifacts to explore when the area’s serene lakes are getting pounded by rain.
What are the best tourist attractions in Mariposa?
Mariposa County’s old stone jail is one of the most enjoyable historical destinations in the region. However, the Mining and Mineral Museum and the old Mariposa Marketplace are also great tourist attractions. Many people enjoy visiting the farmer’s market in the Mariposa Marketplace to buy freshly grown and delicious fruits directly from Mariposa farmers.
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