The quaint little town of historic Mariposa, California is a perfect spot to stay after a family adventure in Yosemite , and only an hour’s drive! Mariposa, first settled in 1849, is a living reminder of the gold rush era and the 49er’s who prospected the mother lode. With a fine selection of cafes, restaurants, motels, hotels, and shops, Mariposa makes an excellent place to explore outside the National Park.
The blossoming trees and landscape greet you to the Mariposa Lodge off Hwy 140 and the kids all cheered at the pool/spa sign, we were off to a great start!
I automatically loved the charm of the courtyard right outside our rooms which offers a cozy reading spot. The lamppost and wagon wheel was a nice old rustic touch. On the other side of the parking lot a gazebo is surrounded by flowers and trees for another spot to relax outside your room. The weather was great on our weekend in town and we took advantage of both spots as much as possible.
With 5 of us, one room can get tight. So we stayed in two rooms close to one another, not quite next door. My husband and I got a King room that was very spacious, had all the basic necessities plus dining table, chairs and mini-fridge, and balcony with chairs.
The kids shared a two Queen room that was perfect for them. Maid service kept us with plenty of towels and shampoo, and the front office was super helpful when we struggled with the free wi-fi connection.
The outdoor whirlpool spa and pool overlook the beautiful hills around Mariposa and get plenty of sun year-round. There are tables and chairs to enjoy lunch after a swim. The town of Mariposa is pretty small with one major thoroughfare. The Mariposa Lodge is within walking distance of the town’s shops, restaurants, and even some great wine tasting venues. We spent a lot of time eating (as a family with growing kids and teens do) so it was great to have Subway just over a block away, plus our favorite spot, the Sugar Pine Cafe. With a great homey feel, servers that treat you like family, and delicious food, we enjoyed at least one breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert during our 3 days in the area. Also to the delight of the kids and especially me, the Pizza Factory is a few blocks further down the main street. The pizza recipe reminds me of my favorite college town and our go-to restaurant there, so we may have had pizza twice that weekend! Also downtown, my husband and I walked into Ciera Wine Cellars late one evening to sample some local wine. We were greeted by proprietor Tori who was hosting a local club of women also there to enjoy some wine. Happily she tended to us and her group at the same time while giving us some history on the area and their winery. Her husband Mike works downstairs in the historic hotel for Yosemite Ale Werks, so they’ve hit the tasting jackpot in the area. Whether you’re their as a couple or with friends you can’t go wrong when looking for some music and a drink! If you love olive oil, there’s a room in back for that as well.
History buffs keep reading! During your stay, you can enjoy not only the natural wonders of Yosemite, but also visit Mariposa’s historic and cultural attractions. These spots are family friendly and perfect for young kids! My youngest will be in 4th grade in the fall and that’s the year they study California history, she’s already with a leg up!
Hop aboard an antique steam-powered locomotive on the Sugar Pine Railroad.
A 4-mile track near Yosemite’s South Gate that winds through the Sierra Mountains. The railroad’s two engines are beautifully maintained classics—steam-powered marvels built in 1913 and 1928 that pulled train cars filled with freshly felled logs. A ride on the train takes about an hour and includes narration that takes you back in time to old railroading and logging days. You can also pan for gold at Sugar Pine, visit the Thornberry Museum to learn about the turn-of-the-century logging camp, and grab a snack in the gift shop.
Named as one of the best small museums in America by the Smithsonian Institute, check out the Mariposa Museum & History Center
Offering a collection of historical artifacts that illustrate the history of Mariposa County, take a guided tour, or just guide yourself through the museum and around the grounds to check out exhibits. There’s the 5,000-pound gold-processing stamp mill, the working blacksmith shop, the gold panning area, the replica of a typical gold miner’s cabin, and the Mariposa Gazette building, complete with a collection of antique printing presses.
Head back to the California Gold Rush days at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. This was my husband’s favorite place (unfortunately photos are not allowed to be taken inside. He’s still excited that he found a mineral ALLENITE, as his name is Allen!
This museum exhibits such artifacts as the official mineral collection of the state of California, rare crystalline gold specimens, mining artifacts, a working scale model of a gold-processing stamp mill, a mining tunnel, and beautiful gems, fossils and minerals from around the world.
Sounds fun right? Next time you’re in the area, stop by the town of Mariposa and enjoy a weekend with family near Yosemite. For some exciting adventure be sure to read our zipline experience with Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch! There’s a lot of great places to explore in California, we are so appreciative of the opportunity!
Our experience was part of a press trip with the Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau, all opinions 100% our own.