Search form

City of Merced

UC Merced Aerial Picture of Campus

Several dozen people enjoy an outdoor street fair in downtown Merced.

Merced is in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley and serves as the county’s commercial, entertainment, cultural and governmental hub. With a population of 80,000 people, it retains the charm of a small town yet offers amenities routinely found in larger cities.

Known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” the city boasts a low cost of living and first-rate quality of life. Merced enjoys close proximity to Yosemite National Park and is a convenient two-hour drive from San Francisco and Sacramento. The city is surrounded by natural beauty that includes meandering streams, walking trails, abundant parks and an extensive bike path system. The scenic Lake Yosemite, which is adjacent to the campus, offers beautiful views and seasonal recreational activities that include fishing and sailing.

Merced’s emerging downtown area is home to a number of quaint boutiques, coffee houses, a cinemaplex, eateries, historic buildings, cultural centers and the beautifully restored Merced Theatre. The city hosts a number of parades, annual events and celebrations such as Shakespearefest and the Merced Art Hop. Also located downtown is the Merced Multicultural Arts Center — a modern, open three-story facility that provides space and support for arts education, training, world-class performances and tours.