Last Updated on: 31st July 2023, 08:58 am

Atwater sprang up in the 1870s as a railroad stop. The town grew from there and was incorporated in 1922. The city is named after Marshall D. Atwater in honor of the railroad using his land for its station. Atwater was nicknamed “Frogtown” in the 1930s after toads poured into the neighborhood and covered the streets and lawns following a flood. 

The city is a great place for families, with parks and playgrounds that provide recreational facilities for kids and adults. Atwater is also a small, close-knit community situated away from the big cities. It offers spectacular views of nearby Yosemite National Park and plenty of places outdoors to explore. Atwater is known for Castle Air Force Base. The Art & Wine Festivals during summertime bring crows from all over. As such, Atwater is a good place to live.

Here’s what you have to look forward to when moving to Atwater, California!

Where is Atwater California?

Atwater is located in northern Merced County. Atwater is close to Merced, which is 8 miles away. the county seat, and southeast of Livingston. The largest nearby cities are Modesto, about 31 miles to the northwest, and Fresno, about 64 miles to the southeast. The Merced Transit Authority offers some public transportation in Atwater.

Atwater Population & Demographics

The Atwater population is 31,970, according to the 2020 Census. Per the 2010 census, the number of people living in Atwater was 28,168.   

The racial and ethnic composition of Atwater is 57.1% Hispanic, 31.8% White, 4.6% Asian, 3.8% Black, 2.2% two or more races, 0.4% American Indian, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. Notable people in Atwater include NFL player Bernard Berrian and actress Sheryl Underwood.

Additional Atwater demographics:

  • Population density: 4,868.28 people/sq mi
  • Median age: 33.6
  • Sex ratio: 49.7% females to 50.3% males 
  • Median household income: $59,436
  • Educational attainment: 70.9% high school grad or higher, 13.3% Bachelor’s Degree or higher 
  • Foreign-born population: 22.3%
  • Veteran population: 1,566

The crime rates in Atwater are 49% higher than the national average, and violent crimes in Atwater are 32% higher. In Atwater, you have a 1 in 29 chance of becoming a victim of crime. The total crime rate in Atwater is 3,505 per 100,000 people. The violent crime rate in Atwater is 512 per 100,000 people. And the property crime rate in Atwater is 2,993 per 100,000 people. Although the crime statistics are relatively high, crime in Atwater has decreased by 16% year over year. The Atwater Police Department strives to serve, protect, and maintain a wholesome community environment for all residents. 

Atwater Cost of Living 

Is Atwater, CA expensive? Although the cost of living in Atwater is 5% higher than the national average, it is 25% lower than the California average, making Atwater an affordable place to live in the state. Housing in Atwater is 11% lower than the national average.  

The costs of groceries, healthcare, and goods and services are almost identical to the national averages. You will pay more for transportation and utilities, however. Transportation costs are 35% higher than the US average, and utilities run 47% higher. 

Housing is very affordable in Atwater, which is 107% below the California average. The Atwater housing market is somewhat competitive. Home prices are down 20.0% compared to last year and remain on the market for about 23 days compared to 14 days last year. The median price for a home in Atwater is $350,000. Check out Atwater, CA homes for sale to get an idea of how much a home in Atwater will cost you. 

If you are planning to rent, the average Atwater CA rent is $1,253 a month, and the average apartment size is 928 square feet, according to RentCafe. The economic growth in Atwater is projected to grow over the next ten years by 31.7%.

Best Neighborhoods in Atwater

There are a variety of neighborhoods to choose from when moving to Atwater. Whether you’re looking for a large estate or a comfortable home, a location downtown, a gated neighborhood, or a golf course community, you can find it here. Atwater also has nationally-ranked schools, tree-lined streets, and lots of open space for hiking, biking, and exploring nature.

Mellow Ranch | Desirable Atwater Neighborhood

Mellow Ranch is one of the more desirable neighborhoods in Atwater. You’ll find a variety of styles, including Mediterranean, with plenty of modern features like solar. Mellow Ranch has established homes, built as far back as 15-20 years ago, and new construction. The neighborhood is adjacent to an Atwater fire station and close to Buhach Colony High School. Home prices in Mellow Ranch average around $480,000.  

McSwain | Custom Homes in Atwater

Located in south Atwater, McSwain is one of the city’s best and most beautiful neighborhoods, featuring large, ranch-style homes. Many homes here have large lots, pools, and lots of interior and exterior amenities. The median price for a home in McSwain is $750,000.   

Legacy Estates | Open Concept Living

Legacy Estates features 3, 4, and 5-bedroom open-concept homes in a quiet neighborhood with beautifully manicured lawns. The median price for a home in Legacy Estates is $620,000.   

Atwater Weather & Climate

In Atwater, it’s hot, arid, and clear in the summer. The hottest month of the year in Atwater is July, with an average high of 96°F and a low of 63°F. Winters are short, cold, wet, and partly cloudy. December is the coldest month of the year in Atwater. The average low is 39°F, and the average high is 56°F. It rains about 13 inches a year in Atwater, well below the US average of 38 inches. You won’t see any snow in Atwater. The best time of year to visit Atwater is from early June to late September to take advantage of the nice weather. According to the Koppen classification, the Atwater climate is a hot, arid climate.

Things to Do in Atwater

Although Atwater is a small city, you can find lots of exciting things to do there. We’ve listed some of the best things to do in Atwater. In addition to these activities, you’ll enjoy some convenient shopping at Applegate Ranch Shopping Center, with 36 stores and places to eat. For essentials, Atwater has a Walmart, Target, Marshalls, and other big, brand-name stores.    

Castle Air Museum 

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Castle Air Museum is the largest aviation museum between Southern California and the State of Washington. They have a vast collection of over 70 restored vintage military aircraft on static exhibit, and they are always looking for more! This is one of the best Atwater attractions for kids.

Castle Air Museum, 5050 Santa Fe Drive, Atwater, CA 95301, (209) 723-2178

Hunter Family Farms

Established in 1971, Hunter Farms offers affordable fun for the whole family. They raise almonds, pistachios, and pumpkins onsite. The Hunter Farms Pumpkin Patch has many varieties of pumpkins, free hayrides, and more. You can plan an educational field trip, youth group visit, birthday party, or a special harvest dinner there. 

Hunter Family Farms, 2985 N. Southern Pacific Ave, Atwater, CA 95301, (209) 394-4444

Corbin Cash Distillery

The Corbin Cash Distillery uses sweet potatoes and rye it grows right on its own farmland to produce its unique sweet potato vodka, rye whiskey, blended whiskey, dry gin, and sweet potato liqueur. If you’re looking for a unique Atwater thing to do for date night, this is it!

Corbin Cash Distillery, 241 Hull Road, Atwater, CA 95301, (209) 358-2966

Additional Attractions in Atwater  

Still looking for things to do in Atwater? There are a number of local and state parks in and around the city, including Atwater Park, Veteran’s Memorial Park, Ralston Park, and Osborn Park. You can find more at the Atwater Parks and Rec website. Explore events with the Atwater City Events Calendar.

Atwater CA Restaurants

You’ll find some great places to eat in Atwater! Here are some of the top-rated restaurants in Atwater. 

Jantz Café & Bakery

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Jantz Café & Bakery, a family-run business, has been an Atwater staple since 2001. They make everything from scratch and never cut corners on quality. The bakery features the best pies, pastries, cookies, cupcakes, and bread in town. This is an Atwater cafe you don’t want to miss out on.

Jantz Café & Bakery, 987 Bellvue Rd, Atwater, CA 95301, (209) 356-0782

Pizza Factory 

The Pizza Factory makes the best hand-tossed pizzas in Atwater. They use only 100% real mozzarella cheese, their signature sauce, and fresh toppings. Besides their awesome pizzas, the Pizza Factory serves up calzones, pasta, sandwiches, bread sticks, garlic bread, and more!

Pizza Factory, 1300 Commerce Ave, Atwater, CA 95301, (209) 357-5700

Jeff’s Cuisine

For a unique dining experience in Atwater, come to Jeff’s Cuisine. They serve authentic, high-quality Filipino Island Food in a fun, enjoyable atmosphere. Their goal is to provide you with an extraordinary dining experience. Try the pork or chicken BBQ, pork or chicken adobo, or Filipino spaghetti. This is a great restaurant in Atwater for families.

Jeff’s Cuisine, 1135 Bellevue Rd Atwater, CA 95301, 209-386-3525

Jobs in Atwater, CA

The average salary in Atwater is $72,000 a year, according to Payscale. The largest industries in Atwater are health care & social assistance, manufacturing, and educational services. The highest-paying industries are utilities, finance & insurance, and information.

Major employers in Atwater include:

If you’re ready to explore your career opportunities, check out Atwater jobs and employment on Indeed or other job search sites, and see what the City of Atwater jobs board has!

Schools in Atwater, CA

The Atwater Elementary School District has 6 K-6 elementary schools, 1 K-8 elementary school, 1 6-8 elementary school, and 1 7-8 elementary. There are 2 high schools serving Atwater: Buhach Colony and Atwater High. Both high schools are part of the Merced Union High School District.

The closest college to Atwater is Merced College in Merced, about 7 miles away. Stanford University in Stanford is the top-rated college in the area, ranking as the #3 college in the country. 

Students can take advantage of the free Atwater Branch Library.

Atwater Statistics & Information

  • County: Merced
  • Area: 6.57 square miles
  • Atwater Zip Code: 95301, 95342
  • Atwater Area Code: 209
  • Atwater Elevation: 151 feet
  • Atwater Time Zone: Pacific Standard Time (PST)
  • Closest airport to Atwater: Merced Regional Airport (MCE / KMCE), 9 miles away

Atwater, CA Map

Check out some of the other fun attractions and restaurants with this map of Atwater.

If you’re moving to Atwater, give the best Atwater Movers a call at 831-786-5537 or fill out our online form for a free moving estimate today! With 30+ years of experience, our top-rated movers will ensure your move is smooth and free of stress.