Merced is a small town that takes five to fifteen minutes to drive to from campus, depending on where exactly one wants to go. Students can go to the one-story mall, or swing by the movie theater either near the mall or on Main Street. Main Street also has a playhouse (which offers discounts for students), music stores, and little antique shops, as well. There are also sometimes parades in the center of town on Main Street, whether it is for Christmas or Memorial Day, giving those from UCM a chance to bond with Merced locals. If students truly cannot find anything to do on campus, they can find something to do in town, although their options are somewhat limited. There tends to be enough to do on campus, with talent showcases on the weekends along with movie screenings. Off campus, special performances from organizations like the symphony are offered.
There is plenty to see a little past Merced, namely Yosemite National Park. Because Yosemite is such a huge tourist attraction for people both in and out of the country, Merced gets several visitors and serves as the “Gateway to Yosemite.” UCM even provides students with opportunities to go to Yosemite in groups. However, if people want to find something to do in Merced, they need to explore and go deep into town, where there are some nice hole-in-the-wall places, such as family-owned restaurants and multicultural art centers. Merced is very different from city life, considering a lot of it is farmland, but that has not stopped students from exploring the town and finding something to do. For those who do not have a car or other form of transportation, the school provides a bus system, free of charge.