Also within a short distance from the city limits are the Castle Air Museum, Lake Yosemite, and Merced Falls.Merced is also the headquarters of Malibu Boats, a manufacturer of inboard boats.
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Homes at the median level in Merced have lost 62% of their value from the second quarter of 2006, when they peaked at $336,743, the biggest drop anywhere in the country, according to data provided to Forbes by Local Market Monitor, a Cary, North-Carolina-based real-estate research firm.
Earlier, home building and buying grew exponentially in Merced, but the metro still suffers from an elevated 14.2% unemployment rate (Dec 2013) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
During the Great Recession Merced suffered one of the greatest property price collapses in the country and house prices at the end of 2009 had returned to 1998 levels, according to Zillow, making housing affordable compared to many other California locations.
Incorporated on April 1, 1889, Merced is a charter city that operates under a council-manager government.
It is named after the Merced River, which flows nearby.
Merced, known as the "Gateway to Yosemite", is less than two hours by automobile from Yosemite National Park to the east and Monterey Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and several beaches to the west.
The community is served by the rail passenger service Amtrak, a major airline through Merced Regional Airport, and three bus lines.
It is approximately 110 miles (180 km) from Sacramento, 130 miles (210 km) from San Francisco, 45 miles (72 km) from Fresno, and 270 miles (430 km) from Los Angeles. Merced is home to University of California, Merced.
In 2005, the city became home to the tenth University of California campus, University of California, Merced (UC Merced), the first research university built in the U. Current recreational opportunities in the city include Applegate Park and zoo, Bear and Black Rascal Creeks and their bike trails, a skate park located in Applegate, a live stage theater downtown, two first run movie theaters, The Mainzer Theater which is known for its historic and architectural value, County Courthouse Museum circa 1889, the Merced Multicultural Arts Center and the County Library.
Though still growing, Merced has several shopping areas including the Merced Mall, anchored by Target, Sears, JCPenney and Kohl's, a strip mall located on the city's northwest side which includes Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, and several restaurants.
Merced's Main Street contains several restaurants, a movie theater, and other assorted shops.