Out and About in Merced, California

March 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations

Yosemite Lake Sunset

I recently found myself in Merced, California visiting family and it occurred to me that although Merced may not be on the top 10 must-see list, there are some charming sites in and around Merced. I was so moved by this revelation that sadly took years for me to fully appreciate (such is the fate of most places we frequent and thus take for granted) that I decided to write about it and share it with others. Regardless of how you feel about Merced by the end of this article, there is one thing I hope that stands out – and that is that travel does not have to be to far away places. You can find enjoyment in most any place and sometimes the most exciting explorations can be had in your own backyard.

Now back to Merced, CA. Here are 6 things to see and do in Merced.

1. Take a stroll through Merced’s quaint downtown area. There are only a few streets that make up the downtown area but in recent years, work has been done to restore buildings and streets. You can walk along Main Street and enjoy that small town feel that’s lost in most places. Stop in at one of the many eclektic mom-and-pop shops, play a game of billiards, and have a nice meal at one of the restaurants or cafes. Some of the businesses have been in Merced for years and the owners know their customers by name.

2. Visit Yosemite Lake. Yosemite Lake is a nice place to go for picnics with family and friends, a boat ride on the lake, or a nice stroll along the water. When things quiet down, catch a little peace and quiet and watch the beautiful sunsets on the lake. Rocks line the shores of the lake and it’s a perfect place to skip rocks on the water. I have two little nephews and this is one of their favorite parts about visiting the lake.

3. Drive down the rows of orchards in the country. I grew up in a small farming town and driving down long country roads lined with rows upon rows of trees creates a scene that is both serene and relaxing for me. Take a long drive going nowhere and get swallowed up by trees. Some of the trees growing in Merced are almond trees, peach trees, plum trees, fig trees, walnut trees, and pistachio trees. Test your knowledge and see if you can identify them.

4. Take a drive to Yosemite National Park. Merced is called the Gateway to Yosemite because it’s only a couple of hours drive from Yosemite National Park. Enjoy the majesty and wonder that is Yosemite. Take a day trip to Yosemite or stay over at a lodge or in a campground. There’s something to do in Yosemite all year round so being in such close proximity is a major plus.

5. Stop by the Merced Zoo. If you’ve got kids, you’ll want to take them to the zoo to see the animals including monkeys, bears, a mountain lion, and most importantly to feed the goats – a sure crowd pleaser with the kids. The Merced zoo is located in Applegate Park which is also home to an outdoor theater, a playground, a skatepark, and the Kiddieland Amusement Park to name a few. While you’re there, be sure to take the train ride at the Kiddieland Amusement park.

6. Grab a bite at Paul’s Place Restaurant and Bakery. Paul’s Place is family owned and operated and has been for over 20 years. It’s owned by my uncle Paul so I may be a tad bit biased here when I say they serve some of the best food in Merced but really, they serve some of the best food in Merced! The meals are home-cooked and prepared daily. The staff is kind, friendly and eager to make sure you enjoy delicious food and leave stuffed and happy. I’ve never visited Merced without stopping in to eat a meal and visit friends.

Whether you visit Merced’s downtown, skip rocks on the Yosemite Lake, feed goats at the Zoo, or grab a bite at Paul’s Place, Merced has a little something for everyone.

Sima Kimble

Comments are closed.