The charming town of Mariposa is in the national spotlight again for a cultural scene that residents and returning visitors alike know is among the best in the United States.
Mariposa was named as one of 20 finalists for the 2023 USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award in the category of Best Small-Town Cultural Scene. To be considered for the award, a town must have fewer than 25,000 residents and have outstanding examples of museums, art galleries, performing arts and a strong stable of local events.
To be considered a “winner” Mariposa just needs to finish in the Top 10 in online voting, but finishing first is well within reach for Mariposa. In 2022, Mariposa finished second in the same contest behind Clayton, New York.
Mariposa is well suited for this contest and perhaps packs more of a punch pound-for-pound than any other towns listed as finalists. Despite its population of just 1,526 people, Mariposa is home to three museums including the Mariposa Museum and History Center, which was named by the Smithsonian as one of the best small museums west of the Mississippi River. The town boasts three art galleries, local filmmakers that debut their works here in Mariposa and holds the title of being the smallest town in America with a symphony orchestra, The Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra.
Mariposa is home to multiple annual events including the Mariposa County Fair which showcases the rich agricultural scene that many destinations have left behind. Each spring, Mariposa is home to the Mariposa Butterfly Festival, a family friendly event that releases hundreds of butterflies. Mariposa’s history goes back well beyond Spanish colonization to the Southern Sierra Miwuk, a local tribe which has called modern day Mariposa home for hundreds of years. The Miwuk and other local tribes are honored each year with an event of their own in Mariposa, the Mariposa Pow Wow.
A great place to stay for visitors, Mariposa is home to great lodging options running the gamut from camping to bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels and hotel brands that visitors from all over will recognize.
Mariposa is the county seat of Mariposa County, California, a large, but lightly populated county on the southwestern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Mariposa County is home to rich Gold Rush history, outdoor activities like hiking, whitewater rafting, skiing and snowboarding and skydiving. Mariposa County is also home to Yosemite National Park, a world-renowned outdoor destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site.