Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Mariposa, CA

  • Published 2023/02/26

Mariposa is a census-designated place in the state of California.

It was initially a mining camp on the banks of the Agua Fria.

After a while, the 40-foot water well crushing gold ore opened, providing a stable source of employment.

The gold paved the way for Mariposa to become a supply hub for hundreds of outlying mining districts.

Today, you’ll still see traces of mining and collected minerals in several of Mariposa’s museums and historic sites.

There are also dozens of things you can explore in this beautiful place.

Check out 20 of the best things to do in Mariposa, CA.

Relax by the Silver Apron

Scenic view of Silver Apron

Nella /

Mariposa is filled with natural wonders you can’t find anywhere else.

One example is the Silver Apron, the third of three major waterfalls comprising a section of the Merced River.

Although many people believe it’s a forgotten waterfall, it’s still a popular tourist destination, especially in the summertime.

The falls spread over a smooth granite slide, leading to another 60-foot plunge into Emerald Pool.

Unfortunately, due to the many accidents in the area, swimming is prohibited.

Still, visiting the falls lets, you take Instagram-worthy photos of the fantastic views.

Explore the Mariposa Museum and History Center

Outside view of Mariposa Museum and History Center

Lara Red /

Founded in 1957, the Mariposa Museum and History Center lets visitors get close and personal to the historic sites that shaped Mariposa’s rich heritage.

Discover over 100 exhibits about the California Gold Rush, Yosemite Valley, Native American, and early Mariposa County history.

The Smithsonian tagged the Mariposa Museum and History Center as “the best little museum west of the Mississippi.”

The Mariposa Museum and History Center is open seven days a week, year-round.

Tour the Daulton Room and learn how gold was formed in the Sierra Nevada and people mined it during the California Gold Rush.

You’ll also see a one-room miner’s cabin and furnishings of the West’s most famous explorer, John C. Fremont.

Check out the Yosemite Valley Railroad Exhibit to look at the Yosemite Valley Railroad at El Portal Station.

Step outside, get a good view of the mining exhibits and see various mining equipment.

You’ll also see other establishments, such as the five-stamp mill, the original gazette building, and the count’s house.

Have the Adventure of a Lifetime with Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch

There’s no better place to enjoy the views of Yosemite and Mariposa than the treetops.

At Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch, you’ll enjoy the adventure of a lifetime while taking in the scenic views of Yosemite and the entirety of Mariposa.

Embark on a two-hour and six-stage guide-led journey that begins from the mountain in Polaris Rangers to Downtown Mariposa.

You’ll experience riding seven lines of varying heights and distances, comprising 3,800 linear feet.

Although there aren’t any age or height restrictions, the ranch allows only guests between 60 and 250 pounds to ride the zipline.

Have a Glass of Wine at Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art

Cast Oaks Fine Wine and Art are arguably one of the best wineries in Mariposa.

The family winery produces up to 1,200 cases every year, each made from the finest grapes of Mariposa County.

Enjoy handcrafted wines in the form of full-bodied Cabernet and Zinfandel.

If you think your tastebuds are the only ones in for a treat, feast your eyes on the art pieces in Cast Oaks’ gallery.

Check out the acrylic and watercolor paintings, photographs, intricate pottery, jewelry, and more from local artists.

Harold and Kris Casto founded Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art in 2001 after purchasing a six-acre vineyard that consisted of Zinfandel grapes.

The winery has evolved to grow other grape varieties like Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Check Out Climbing Artifacts at the Yosemite Climbing Museum

Rock climbing enthusiasts will have a good time exploring the Yosemite Climbing Museum.

Established in 2019, the Yosemite Climbing Museum showcases historical climbing artifacts, photography, publications, and memorabilia.

Learn about the foundations of rock climbing across several generations and know some of the most critical ascents in climbing history.

Get a good grasp of climbing history by inspecting the museum’s walls lined with display cases and sheltering several artifacts, hardware, and climbing gear.

Ken Yager saw the need to preserve climbing history, pushing him to establish the Yosemite Climbing Museum.

Traverse the Stockton Creek Preserve Trail

Go on a scenic hike on the Stockton Creek Preserve Trail along CA-140.

Traversing this trail will surely help you drown out the noise of the busy streets and immerse yourself in nature’s greatest wonders.

Situated near the Sierra Nevada foothills, Stockton Creek Preserve is a rolling hike that will take you to the ridgeline between Mariposa and the Stockton Creek Watershed.

Embark on a nature-centric journey as you walk by a small lake and waterfall that provides hikers and travelers the perfect resting spot.

Besides deer and squirrels, you might also catch rare sightings of the California quail, ravens, red-tailed hawk, the great horned owl, and vultures.

You’ll also find different native fauna that gives the trail a burst of color, including the manzanita, California poppy, and other wildflowers.

Visit the California State Mining and Mineral Museum

The gold stamp mill model in the Mineral Museum

Faukina, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If there’s one thing California is known for, it’s mineral wealth.

At the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, you can glimpse the state’s treasured gems and minerals.

Learn about mining history and geologic diversity while looking at California’s official collection of over 13,000 gems, mineral crystals, and mining artifacts.

You’ll also get a good view of the “Fricot Nugget.”

The museum also offers free activities for children, such as the Junior Ranger Program and school tours that teach children about the importance of mining and minerals.

Swing by the Butterfly Creek Winery

Sitting along Triangle Rd. is Butterfly Creek Winery, a place every wine lover must visit before leaving Mariposa.

Butterfly Creek Winery produces a great selection of premium wines thanks to fresh mountain spring water, a clean climate, and the zest Sierra Nevada soil.

Enjoy the taste of black fruit, oak, and pepper held in check by firm tannins with Butterfly Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon or the killer flavors of the Sierra Foothills with the Zinfandel.

Take a swig of the White Merlot’s not-so-sweet yet fruity flavor, which you can pair with just about any meal.

Butterfly Creek has operated since 1972 under the Gerken family.

Get a Much-Needed Adrenaline Rush with Skydive Yosemite

Touring Mariposa and Yosemite are enjoyable enough, but you might want to take your trip to the next level.

Skydive Yosemite on Macready Way is the only skydive center that can give you amazing views of Yosemite National Park and Yosemite Valley.

Feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins as you fall from the sky atop picturesque views.

Catch stunning views of Half Dome and El Capitan before landing safely at the Mariposa-Yosemite Airport.

You can book a jump for large groups, making Skydive Yosemite the perfect place for your birthday, fundraisers, anniversaries, or even an experience you can cross off your bucket list.

Check Out the Old Stone Jail

Mariposa is riddled with historical places, and the old stone jail on Bullion St. is an example.

The community initially made the original jail from log cuts from the surrounding forest near the creek behind the Trabucco Warehouse.

It was constructed in 1852 and burned down in 1858.

A replacement jail was constructed in the same year, but this time they made it from 24-inch thick granite blocks quarried at Mormon Bar.

It was originally a two-story structure with a flat roof and gallows.

Although the village condemned the building in 1963, you can still see the old stone jail along Bullion St.

Watch a Performance by the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra

Let the music fill your ears as you watch the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra.

Mariposa is the smallest town in the US with its own symphony orchestra.

This shows that talent can come from the most unexpected places, no matter how small.

Drown in the harmony of Mariposa’s top performers and have a good time.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Charles Street Dinner House

Whether you’re grabbing lunch or dinner, Charles Street Dinner House can surely satisfy your cravings.

Choose from a wide selection of starters, soups and salads, pasta, chicken, etc.

You can even ask about their special menu, including vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, low-sodium, gluten-free, and dairy-free dishes.

Try the restaurant’s local favorites, such as the salmon fillet, lobster tail, street burger, scallion, and french dip sandwich.

For dessert, enjoy a slice of Chicago-style cheesecake or a hot fudge sundae to complete your meal.

Shop at the Brick Wall Boutique

From shoes and clothing to jewelry and home decor, the Brick Wall Boutique has got it all.

The boutique has handmade imports from brands like Fading West Jewels, Jimmi wZ Bags, and Yerba Santa.

Of course, the Brick Wall Boutique also encourages customers to shop locally.

You can find Mariposa brands such as Balanced Creations, Lone Wolf Designs, Old Hippie Bags, and more.

You can find the Brick Wall Boutique in the historic downtown Mariposa where the Bogan & Company building first stood during the 1850s.

Ride a Plane from Airborrn Aviation Services

Catch the best views of Mariposa from high up with Airborrn Aviation Services.

Besides the thrill of riding a plane, you’ll see a great view of the majority of the iconic landmarks of Yosemite National Park.

You’ll also see historical Mariposa, Half Dome, El Capitan, and stunning sights of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Enjoy the ride from “Joy,” a classic Cessna R172K-XP that comes with a powerful 210 HP TCM engine.

Dine in Frederick’s of Savourys

Frederick’s of Savourys is one of the most popular restaurants in Mariposa, famed for its longevity, ambiance, and its culinary pedigree.

It’s a great family restaurant that can also double as an intimate dinner date place if you’re traveling with a loved one.

Some of their menu items here are inspired from American-European cuisine, most notably their pastas, chicken marsala, and various steaks utilizing differing prime cuts.

An underrated dish here that you may want to try are their stacked portobello, receiving rave reviews from customers.

Frederick’s of Savourys also has an excellent wine list, making it a perfect place for elegant fine dining.

Find it along Highway 140 in the heart of the community.

Check in at The Mariposa Lodge

If you’re looking for a neat place to stay in Mariposa and the Yosemite area, look no further than The Mariposa Lodge.

A clean and affordable inn, The Mariposa Lodge is one of the most convenient options for travelers as it’s right along the heart of the community.

You’ll have easy access to all the restaurants and cool alleys that Mariposa has to offer, as they’re all within walking distance from the lodge.

Of course, the amenities of The Mariposa Lodge get the job done as well, giving you comfort and tranquility during your stay.

An easy choice for travelers, you can check in with this lodge by finding them along Highway 140 as well.

Hunt for Antiques at The Mariposa Marketplace

The Mariposa Marketplace is a cool addition to your itinerary, especially if you’re looking for an amazing gift to commemorate your trip.

It’s an antique and gift shop that has a ton of affordable knick knacks, perfect for gifts or even for your home as decor.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, visiting The Mariposa Marketplace is also a great idea as you can take lots of photos of their cool displays and interiors.

Beyond that, many of their items also have some artistic value to it—a great stopover if you’re passionate about arts and culture.

The Mariposa Marketplace is found in the heart of the community, along Highway 140.

Have a Picturesque Lunch at the Happy Burger Diner

Exterior view of the Happy Burger Diner

Abdul N Quraishi – Abs /

The Happy Burger Diner is one of those restaurants that every type of tourist can enjoy, offering not only a wide range of dietary options, but also a picturesque aesthetic that’s a must-see along Highway 140.

The diner is particularly famous for its vintage photos and albums that are scattered throughout their ceilings and walls, giving this a unique retro ambiance that you won’t find often.

A couple dining at Happy Burger Diner

Abdul N Quraishi – Abs /

Music aficionados will particularly love this place, as its aesthetic looks like it’s taken right out of the 80s and 90s.

Of course, the diner itself has some delicious food that matches well with its interior, offering a wide variety of burgers and salads.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, there’s also an option for you here at the Happy Burger Diner, so everyone can enjoy this amazing attraction.

Take a Stroll Along Mariposa Creek Parkway

Mariposa Creek Parkway is a great addition to any itinerary as it’s a simple and short walk through the neighborhoods of Mariposa.

Best enjoyed during the cooler months, you can see the beautiful greenery and landscaping of Mariposa through this parkway.

There’s plenty of shade due to the large amount of vegetation found here, making it a great place to do some jogging as well.

There’s also a scenic wooden bridge that makes for a great photo souvenir.

Mariposa Creek Parkway is located along Highway 140, near Best Western Plus Yosemite.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Glamping at AutoCamp Yosemite

Enjoy the great outdoors in style with AutoCamp Yosemite.

The company offers guests a wide variety of cabin and vacation rentals and cabin and lodging options, making for a great weekend getaway trip.

AutoCamp Yosemite features a 4,000-square foot clubhouse with everything you need for a relaxing vacation, from reception areas and recreational spaces to indoor and outdoor lounge areas and a curated marketplace.

Hang out by the roof deck for stargazing, or take a dip in the pool.

AutoCamp Yosemite offers modern and luxury camping options with iconic Airstream trailers and more.

Final Thoughts

Mariposa is one of the many places you should visit in California.

You’ll want to come back for more with the many places to see and adventures to experience.

Book your trip today!

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