Breathe fresh air and take in the vast wonder of Yosemite National Park.
Imagine your ideal vacation escape to nature. You’re probably picturing, beautiful hiking weather, towering trees, grand mountains, and the smell of pine on the breeze. That’s exactly what you’ll get on a visit to Yosemite National Park in California. Known as one of the most beautiful places on earth, it’s a must-do escape from city life.
Yosemite National Park: What to Do
What isn’t there to do in Yosemite National Park? You can see dramatic waterfalls while walking around towering, building-sized sequoias, spot wildlife, and hike some of the best-known trails and mountains in the United States.
These are some of the can’t-miss to-dos during your visit to Yosemite National Park.
Lace-Up Your Hiking Boots
During your stay in Yosemite National Park, a hike into the wilderness will put you in tune with nature. You’ll get to enjoy the fresh air, the sounds of wildlife, and might even spot an animal or two. Grab your hiking boots, a snack, and some water and hit the trails.
A great option for most experience levels is the self-guided hike to Mirror Lake along the Yosemite Valley, which at around 2 miles roundtrip should take you about an hour (loop around the lake for an additional 1-2 hours at around 5 hours total roundtrip). This trail follows Tenaya Creek beyond the lake, over 2 bridges after Snow Creek Trail junction, and leads past Mirror Lake on the south side of Tenaya Canyon. You’ll get a picture-perfect view of Half Dome and Mirror Lake’s lake-to-meadow succession is a beautiful retreat year-round. Check out some more picturesque hikes here!
Take a Ranger-Led Walk and Talk
Who said you couldn’t learn while on vacation? Learn all about your surroundings from an experienced park ranger.
If you’re interested in learning more about the local flora and fauna, you’ll want to make time for a Yosemite Ranger walk and talk. These free programs last 60 to 90 minutes and include information about the park geology, the native people, early settlers, and local wildlife. Be sure to check the schedule to find out which programs will be offered during your time in the park.
Go for a Swim
After a long hike, there’s nothing better than a dip in crystal clear, cool water to wash away the sweat and exertion of the day. There are a number of swimming opportunities throughout Yosemite National Park. You can take a dip in some of the rivers or lakes or swim in the family-friendly pools. You’ll find natural swimming holes around the Merced River, Tuolumne Meadows, and the High Sierra Camps.
Yosemite National Park: Where to Stay
Want to wake up with all of the wonders of Yosemite National Park right at your doorstep? You can. Stay at a Nation’s Vacation property and you’ll be starting right in the heart of the park.
The Ahwahnee offers so much more than a convenient location to stay. Its ambiance shines, while the interior design highlights the natural surroundings. This historic hotel offers standard rooms, junior suites, parlors, and individual cottages so you can have the right room for you and your family’s needs. On-site you’ll also find a gift shop filled with locally-made artisan goods, a sweet shop, bar, restaurant, and outdoor pool.
Yosemite Valley Lodge
If you’re traveling as a family or with a large group, you’ll love the location and comfort of the Yosemite Valley Lodge. The hotel is filled with wood accents and ample windows so that even when you’re inside, you still feel like you’re surrounded by nature. Choose from traditional, family size, or ADA-accessible rooms.
Yosemite National Park: Where to Eat
Make sure to take some time to sit back and enjoy your getaway with a drink in hand.
No matter if you’re looking for a casual family lunch or a memorable dining experience, there are dining options to satisfy every desire and palate in Yosemite National Park. As dining options change throughout the year, be sure to check the website before you arrive at the park.
The Ahwahnee Dining Room
The Ahwahnee Dining Room serves up breakfast and dinner year-round. While enjoying your buffet-style meal, you can take in views from the massive windows and enjoy the airy feel created by the 30 foot high ceilings. For dinner, don’t miss the Brandt Ranch roasted prime rib which is rubbed with herbs and slow roasted. On the side, you’ll find natural jus and horseradish cream for just the right kick.
Bar 1899 in Curry Village
After a long day exploring all the Yosemite National Park has to offer, sometimes all you want is a light bite and a cocktail. Head to Bar 1899 for such an offering. Order up a serving of the potato cheddar bites to share or for something sweet ask for the s’mores. Top it off with a Seven Tents cocktail made with Grey Goose, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda all muddled with thyme and lemon for a fresh, herby cocktail.
Yosemite National Park: Hidden Gems
While hiking and seeing the sequoias will be on everyone’s Yosemite to do list, the park has so much more to offer. Add these hidden gems to your list for a truly unique and special visit.
Hoof It Through the Park
Not only do you have the option to ride a horse, Wawona Stables also offers mule rides as well.
One of the best ways to see the park is on a mule. Book a ride with Wawona Stable and climb aboard a horse or mule to get a unique experience of Yosemite National Park. Rides last approximately two hours.
Yosemite Mountaineering School
While many people visit Yosemite to enjoy nature, it’s also home to the Yosemite Mountaineering School, where those interested can take climbing lessons from the pros. The school also offers cross-country ski lessons, overnight ski trips, and private guided hikes.
No matter what type of adventure you’re looking for, Yosemite National Park has something to offer you. And, with a place to stay and eat right inside the park, you will be met with an unparalleled experience.