Show your family the beauty of Yosemite through the park’s webcams and photo galleries. Webcams can be viewed here.
Making the trip in person:
Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite is a stones throw from the Bay Area. I often hear that many Californians have never visited Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is a definite bucket list destination for families. In a short 3 hours from the Bay Area (3-4 with stops or traffic) you can explore the same beauty that John Muir, Ansel Adams and other notable historic figures enjoyed! The scenery is jaw dropping. It is easy to spend hours sitting and observing the majestic granite walls and waterfalls for hours. There are several activities including horseback riding, skiing, hiking, camping, swimming, rock climbing, bird watching, historical sites, art, museums and more!
All abilities can hike in Yosemite. The Yosemite Valley has many paved trails and most valley trails are easy for beginners and young children. For the more ambitious, take a hike from the valley floor up 3,000+ feet to Upper Yosemite Falls or Glacier Point. For a moderate to challenging hike, try the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. The hike to the Vernal Falls view is 2 miles but a quick elevation gain. Or, for an epic family hike, try your skills on Half Dome. Permits are needed to hike Half Dome.
I recommend bringing a hiking backpack for smaller children if you plan to take on the tougher trails. An all terrain stroller will help little tired feet or kids who fall asleep from a long day of exploring. The valley has many stroller friendly areas. With a little hiking training before a visit to Yosemite, tweens and teens can tackle the moderate to strenuous trails. My brother climbed Half Dome on his 11th birthday and had more energy then me and everyone else in our hiking group!
With as many times that I have been to Yosemite (I am estimating somewhere in the 30ish range for lifetime visits to YNP!) I have stayed overnight in almost every nook and cranny.
The Yosemite Lodge is a good family choice, rooms with private baths, restaurant, shops and a great view of Yosemite Falls.
The Ahwahnee is fabulous to stay at, but a bit pricey. Expect to pay several hundred per night. I recommend the Ahwahnee for a couples getaway without children.
Curry Village tent cabins are good, but can be noisy as tents are close together (just feet away). Another downside is that the tents can get cold. Some tents have heaters, which helps. Food must be stored in bear containers. But the rates are good, so if you don’t mind hearing your neighbor snore, Camp Curry is a good option. Showers are available.
Camping in the valley and other park campgrounds is an excellent option for families. The valley has beautiful campsites and some sites are on the river. The higher elevation campgrounds range from RV friendly to extremely rustic. White Wolf is open during the summer and has a stream running through. The only showers for campers are available at Camp Curry.
There are several places to stay outside of the park, but some come with a long drive in and out of park destinations. We like to stay at hotels on Hwy 140 in El Portal. The drive to Yosemite Valley takes approximately 15 minutes and makes getting into and out of the park a breeze.
Dining is mostly cafeteria style, but with that said, the food is notably good! If you can’t leave your coffee addiction behind, Starbucks was opened at the Yosemite Lodge in 2018. Try the warm breakfast at the Yosemite Lodge or a made to order sandwich at the Visitor Center Cafe with a Peets Coffee. Food is also available at Curry Village and Glacier Point. Grocery items are available at Curry Village and a larger selection at Yosemite Village.