The Merced County Courthouse Museum houses 8,500 square feet of exhibits, both permanent and rotating, which depict the history of Merced County as well as the settlers of the Great Central Valley. The museum is located in the county’s three-story courthouse built in 1875, which is one of the oldest historical buildings in California and was designed by State Capital Architect, Albert A. Bennett. The architectural style of the building is Italianate and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is staffed by volunteers who devote their time to preserving and passing on the history of this great land to generations to come. The Merced County Courthouse Museum and historical archive is located at 21st and N streets, Merced.
Admission to the museum is free of charge to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays and major holidays. Contact museum staff from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at (209) 723-2401 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Castle Air Museum
The Castle Air Museum opened to the public in 1981. The museum began with one aircraft, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Today, the museum has grown to encompass 49 aircrafts on display ranging from pre-World War II to today’s high-performance jet aircraft. Castle Air Museum is known worldwide for its collection of superb military aircraft, many of which only a few examples remain anywhere. The mission of the museum is to “preserve military aviation heritage for future generations.” Open daily (except New Year’s, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) Open year round, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adults $12; Seniors $8 and Youths 6-17 years old $8; Active military and children 5 years old and under are free. The Castle Air Museum is located at 5050 Santa Fe Dr., Atwater. For more information, call (209) 723-2178 or visit our website at castleairmuseum.org.
Applegate Park Zoo
Go wild in Merced’s first city park. See native wild animals at the Applegate Zoo or head to Kiddyland Amusement Park and ride the train around the park’s 23 acres (weekends, June through September). In addition, the park features picnic areas and a rose garden. The zoo is open daily, March-April, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. 26th & R streets, Merced. For more information, call (209) 385-6840.
Laura’s Fountain was built in 1888 by Charles Huffman, who named this fountain in memory of his beloved wife Laura. Originally established in front of the El Capitan Hotel, it was moved to its current home in Applegate Park in 1935.
Multicultural Arts Center
Located in downtown Merced, the Multicultural Arts Center opened its doors in the fall of 1996. The City of Merced’s Redevelopment Agency and the Merced County Arts Council joined forces in renovating the building, which now houses a theater, the lobby gallery and the Arbor Gallery on the first floor. Extra gallery space and six visual and performing arts studios are located on the second and third floors. A variety of classes, programs, and performances can be found within the center as well. Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For performance, event and exhibit schedules, call (209) 388-1090 or visit www.artsmerced.org.
Merced County Fair
The Merced County Fair serves the local community plus area residents with a fair each June featuring great entertainment, music head-liners, rodeo, auto and motorcycle racing, tractor pull, midway fun, rides and thrills for all ages! The fair presents an array of exhibits in-cluding agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, art, photography, crafts, hobbies, home arts, such as baking and sewing, mechanical science, large and small animal showing, judging and auctions. The fair is located at 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Merced. For more information, call (209) 722-1506 or visit www.mercedcountyfair.com.
Farmers Markets featuring local fresh produce are held Thursday mornings at the Promenade and Saturday mornings at N and 19th streets all year round.
Merced Fruit Barn
Merced Fruit Barn is located just outside of Merced traveling east on Highway 140, toward the Gold Rush era town of Mariposa, and the always-beautiful Yosemite National Park. Merced Fruit Barn offers a unique shopping experience with many great gift ideas.
While shopping, they can prepare a fresh, made-to-order deli sandwich to-go or to enjoy in their dining room or outdoors in one of the picnic areas. They also have a variety of animals to visit in their barnyard areas and, of course, fresh cherries, strawberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, oranges, melons, grapes and many other of the finest in-season fruits, vegetables and nuts that California has to offer. Visit 4526 E. Highway 140, Merced or for more information, call (209) 385-2222.