Most people visit Merced on their way to Yosemite. It’s a place to stop and grab a bus to Yosemite Valley on YARTS (highly recommended), or to fill up on gas and snacks for people just driving through.
But you can also walk through Merced to see a small town with a lot of history. Most of the towns in this area are filled with great little places to stumble upon, since most of them were built during the gold rush era.
Merced even provides you with a helpful walking map of famous and historical buildings, which you can pick up in the California Visitor Center located next to the old Santa Fe rail station.
- The old Courthouse, built in 1875 (it’s the one with Lady Liberty on top).
- The 1888 cottage built by William McElroy which was also home at one point to “Rusty” Doane, "a reputed underworld boss of Merced's earlier shady days" (it's the picture of house with the flag out front).
- The Greenbrier House, which is not only beautiful, but has served the city well; first as a sanitarium then as a boarding house for bachelors. You can even still tie up your horses out front on one of the handy hitching posts. While it's Merced's pride and joy, there is some doubt about when Greenbrier was built, since the early records refer to properties more than they refer to structures atop them (it's the picture with the green house to the left).
Most recently Merced has become home to one of the newer UC campuses, UC Merced (opened in 2005 alongside Lake Yosemite, it is also one of the prettier UC locations).
If you want to get around Merced (or visit neighboring cities) and you get tired of walking, you can grab The Bus from 7am – 6pm at any corner along any of its routes. Just wave down the driver, and hop on.