Follow Highway 140 from Merced through rich Central Valley farmlands on your way to the wineries of the Sierra Foothill appellation. Sample the region’s rich, chocolate-y Zinfandels before continuing to the authentic Gold Rush town of Mariposa.
Stroll past 19th-century buildings, including the 1854 courthouse (still in use) and see a nearly 14-pound hunk of crystalline gold at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum. For a more contemporary side of Mariposa, Savoury’s Restaurant serves pastas and grilled specialties in a stylish dining room. Or sample local wines and California craft beers at The Alley.
Beyond Mariposa, Highway 140 runs along the wild and scenic Merced River before reaching El Portal on the Yosemite boundary. Stay in rooms overlooking the Merced’s tumbling waters at Yosemite View Lodge, or at the Arts and Crafts-style Yosemite Blue Butterfly along the riverfront.