Downtown Merced is making a dramatic comeback and LGBTQs are helping to lead the way. With a population of nearly 90,000, the Central California city’s downtown was once its crown jewel.

Now it appears to be on a roll to reclaim some of its past glory.Earlier this month, I made the trip to Merced on Amtrak from San Francisco.

The fare was just $31 round trip, including the Amtrak bus shuttle from 555 Mission Street, which connects with the train at the Emeryville station.