Introduction to Merced, California
The California city of Merced, county seat of Merced County, is situated in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California. The city is located 110 miles southeast of San Francisco, 40 miles southeast of Modesto and 58 miles northwest of Fresno. Seated at the intersection of California State Highways 59, 99 and 140, Merced is serviced by the Merced Municipal Airport, which provides daily passenger service to Las Vegas and also accommodates several freight carriers.
Incorporated in 1889, the city was named after the nearby Merced River. Traditionally reliant on agriculture, the city's economy also benefited from the presence of Castle Air Force Base until its closure in 1995. Re-use of the former base has proceeded since that time, concurrent with an increase in industrial development and a diversification of local industry. In May of 1995, the city was selected as the home of the University of California Merced, the University's tenth campus.
Merced Area Attractions
Less than two hours by car from Yosemite National Park, Merced is often referred to as the "Gateway to Yosemite." The city and its immediate surroundings are also rich in attractions of their own. Some of these include:
- Applegate Park and Zoo: A stopping point along the city's extensive bike trail network, the park features picnicking and a kid's amusement area.
- Merced Courthouse Museum: An 1875 Courthouse listed on the National Register of Historical places.
- Castle Air Museum (Atwater): Impressive collection of planes includes more than 40 vintage military issue aircraft from World War II to present.
- Agricultural Museum: Includes antique farm equipment, horse-drawn buggy displays, and a working blacksmith shop.
- Castle Science and Technology Center (Atwater): Includes numerous hands-on exhibits.
- Laura Fountain: Originally erected in 1888 and relocated to Applegate Park in 1935.
- Farmer's Market Festival: A downtown event held every Thursday evening from the spring through the fall.
- Merced Theatre.
- Playhouse Merced.