Merced City Area Attractions

Castle Air Museum

Castle Air Museum in Atwater represents history in a way the whole family can share.  While there is nothing glamorous about war, our majestic warbirds are awe-inspiring reminders of how fragile our freedom can be and how men and women have stepped forward when that freedom was threatened.

To stand under the wing of a B-17 Flying Fortress is an incredible experience.  You can imagine the sky around the bomber filled with enemy fighters.  And yet, somehow, the sturdy flying Fortress survives the onslaught and continues her mission.

Then there’s the B-25, similar to the planes Jimmy Doolittle led off the Carrier Hornet during this country’s first desperate attempt to bomb Tokyo.  You’ll see the B-24 Liberator, the plane that was chosen of the 2400 mile round trip flight to bomb the Ploesti oil fields in 1943.  The B-29 is here too… the bomber that ended World War II in the Pacific.

You’ll see “Seventh Heaven,” a valiant little C-47 transport of the type that carried men and equipment to battle throughout three wars. At the other end of the spectrum art the fast B-47 Stratojet to fly and the British Vulcan: this nuclear bomber is the first of its type to be put on display in the United States.

There’s still more… a B-18 Bolo… C-123 Provider… C-60 Lodestar… Canadian CF-100… U-3A Blue Canoe… all faithfully restored to their original appearance.

Castle Air Museum is continuing to add to its fine stock of historic aircraft. In the future, you will see a Douglas R5-D Skymaster, a Grumman SA-16 rescue amphibian, and others.

Challenger Learning Center of The San Joaquin Valley

Welcome to the future and to an innovative approach to space science education … welcome to the Challenger Learning Center!

The Challenger Learning Center is like no other facility in the Valley. For thousands of students, fifth grade through high school, the Center will unlock the promise of the future.

Founded as a living legacy to honor the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, the program of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education continues Challenger’s mission of exploration and education.

Working in mockups of a twenty-first century Space Station and Mission Control Room, students will experience the thrills of a hands-on, simulated space flight. The curriculum is designed to ignite student interest in mathematics, science, and technology as a source of empowerment, excitement, and access to future careers.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is beautiful all year! With breathtaking views of nature’s awesome power, it is certainly one of California’s most visited national parks. Using the “all-weather route,” Highway 140 from Merced, follow the scenic Merced River into Yosemite, where visual poetry abounds.

Glacier Point
At Glacier Point, visitors can walk to its edge to enjoy one of the world’s most spectacular views and overlooks. From here, at more than 3,2oo feet above the floor of the Valle, they’ll have eagle’s view of most of Yosemite’s popular landmarks.

Bridal Veil Falls
The Yosemite Indians call this place “Pohono,” or spirit of the puffing wind. On this easy walk, the windy swirls blow Bridal Veil Falls sideways. Bridal Veil Falls is the height of a 62-story building!

El Capitan
This massive, impressive monolith is actually the largest granite rock on earth, and it rises almost 4,000 feet measured from base to its summit. Rock climbers from all across the world converge here to face the challenges of El Capitan. From spring to fall, they can be seen inching their way up the sheer wall.

Half Dome
At the far end of the Valley is world-famous Half Dome. Recommended for those who are fit, take the long strenuous hike to the base (summer only) and climb the cables to its breathtaking summit.

Yosemite Falls
Impressive views can be seen on the short footpath that leads to Yosemite Falls, which drop 2,425 feet, the highest in North America.

Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and Mist Trails
Rated one of the 10 Best Trails in North America, the Mist Trail ascends alongside the rushing Merced River to Vernal Fall then on to Nevada Fall. The first mile is the most difficult. A refreshing shower and colorful rainbows welcome you on the second mile. Nevada Fall thunders down a granite face in stark contrast to the calm stretch of river just above.

Mariposa Grove
This grove on the southern edge of the park contains some 250 giant sequoias, the largest trees on earth. Many are nearly 3,000 years old, and several trees stand nearly 200 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter. These trees can be seen along a short path or from the parking area.

Turner View
Along route Highway 41 is one of the most photographed vistas in the world. It provides a view of Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, and Bridal Veil Falls. A turnout area for motor vehicles is located near the tunnel entrance.