I am working on putting together a great list of posts of family-friendly vacation destinations. Some are places we have visited as a family, and others are places that are on our summer vacation “bucket list.” All of them are perfect places to spend together as a family. Most of these destinations you could spend an entire week or more visiting, or you could plan out a day or two to visit and choose which activities you will do. This week’s destination is Yosemite.
I won’t just be featuring each of the places. Instead, I will be sharing an extensive list of fun activities that are sure to make for some amazing memories. Hopefully, this will help you to plan your family vacation and save money while doing so. Each of the lists will include both FREE activities as well as paid activities since not all of us have an endless amount of money to spend while on vacation.
For us, a family of 8, who usually travels with extra kiddos. I pick a couple of paid activities to do and then find other free activities to spend the rest of our trip spending our time doing.
Parks are one of our favorites due to the fact that they are usually free or very inexpensive to visit and families can have an amazing time while visiting. What’s even better is that we can spend the entire day there or even multiple days. I also make sure to bring a picnic and snacks with us so we can eat in the park, many parks have picnic tables just for this purpose. Yosemite is a perfect example of a park that we could spend days exploring at a very inexpensive cost.
So onto some of the great things to explore while in this great park. If you have any other ideas not mentioned in my list or have visited any of these great places, please leave a comment below letting me know. I would love to hear from you!
Spend time looking at the giant sequoias. There are a few different places you can do this. Mariposa Grove is the biggest inside of the park with over 500 fully matured sequoias. It is 2.2 miles round trip to see all of the main attractions, however, there are a few different paths you can take here ranging from easy to extremely difficult. The other places you can see the giant sequoias are Mariposa are Tuolumne Grove 2.5 miles round trip, Merced Grove 3 miles round trip, and Nelder Grove 1 mile round trip.
Ride The Train
Take a trip on the Yosemite Sugar Pine Mountain Railroad for a 1-hour long journey. During your journey, you will travel 4 miles through the scenic Sierra National Forest and get a narrated journey of the days back along the narrow gauge tracks. You will also get a chance to view the locomotive up close while at Lewis Creek Canyon and be able to explore the area a bit more before heading back to the station.
Bridal Veil Falls
Don’t forget to view the iconic Bridalveil Falls, which is typically the first waterfall you will see upon entering the park. The hike is only about a half-mile long round trip and will take about 20 minutes to complete. Expect quite a crowd at this stop as just about every tour bus makes this stop. Also, be careful walking as some of the rocks will be slippery from the spray coming off of the waterfall.
In a place so massive in size your sure to view wildlife just about everywhere. There are over 400 different types of wildlife found in the park. There are, however, some of the best spots to get a chance to view wildlife. Much of the wildlife can best be seen during the morning or late evening hours. Deer can often be seen near El Capitan Valley, and along the Merced River where water is always present. Birds and eagles are often seen in this area as well. Yosemite Valley is a great spot to view much wildlife.
Another iconic and beautiful place to see while visiting Yosemite. It is probably one of the most famous places to visit while in the park. It soars about 3,000 feet into the air from the valley floor and has been climbed by many avid rock climbers. Due to its size, you can only get great views of this beauty from a few different spots in the park. They include Bridalveil Straight, Tunnel View, and El Cap Meadow. While viewing El Capitan see if you can find the granite resembling a heart that is in the middle of the cliff.
In mid to late February you may even be able to view the ever-popular Horsetail Firefall. It happens on clear evenings when the sun lands on Horsetail falls just perfectly as depicted in the photo above.
Hike Mist Trail
Take a hike from Vernal to Nevada falls and get sprayed by the falls. In the spring and early summer there is a tremendous amount of spray, so be prepared for this. This is a moderate-hard level hike that will take between 2-5 hours. Along this trail, you will get an amazing view of Vernal Falls. DO NOT wade into the water along this path. Children and adults have been pulled under sometimes even occurring in fatalities. Even if the water looks safe it is not always. For a detailed summary of this hike, head over to Hikes Peak. They have maps and
View The Stars
If you think Yosemite is amazing during the day, imagine what it looks like at night time. Without many nearby places to drowned out the night skies the amount of stars that can be seen is simply amazing. Make sure to take the moonlight tours for the tour of a lifetime. You can meet up with the Astronomy club at Glacier Point to get an amazing view of the skies, as long as you have clear skies. Check here to find out the dates of these meetups that run June through August.
Eat Ice Cream
Don’t forget to stop for a bite of ice cream, because ice cream is always a good idea. Half Dome Ice cream is a perfect stop after a day of exploring.
Look Below From Glacier Point
Looking for an amazing view of the Yosemite Valley? Well, head up to Glacier Point to get a view far below, one that is truly amazing. There are different ways to get to see this view depending on what time of year it is.
In the winter you can ski down to this point, during summer you can just drive your car here, During the summer months this is a VERY popular destination, and it will be very crowded with many people. Especially during the middle of the day. This is why it is recommended to visit during the early spring to late fall before the road closes. You can also see this amazing view from the bus tour that is listed below.
Pan For Gold
Make sure you get your try at panning for gold. You never know what you will find there is a chance you might find not only gold but possibly a gemstone as well. You can pan for gems and gold at Yosemite Zip Tours for a nominal fee, or you can search for it on your own at different places throughout the park. You know, there was the California Gold Rush for a reason. You never know what you might find while enjoying this family-fun activity.
While this activity may not be best for younger kids, it would be a fun activity for older kids to try. There are quite a few great places for rock climbing in Yosemite. Looking for one of the World’s best rock climbing areas? This is the place to visit! For extensive information on the best choices for you to rocks climb, depending on your abilities, all the information you should know before rock climbing in Yosemite, and any other information you should know this is the website you want to start with.
Looking for a place that is a little less crowded than the regular places you will find around Yosemite? Ever wonder about the history of this great park? Head over to Pioneer Yosemite History Center where you will see a historic replica of the old Yosemite. While visiting this history center you can walk around the village and during the summer months you can explore inside of the houses. In the town, you will get a look at many old businesses like a blacksmith, bakery, a barn, old farm equipment, and more.
Taft Point Hike
Looking for an unobstructed view of Yosemite Falls and the beauty below? This would be a hike to take. Most of the other views this high up, have brick or stone walls, this one, however, does not. You can peer straight down if you dare. It is a medium difficulty hike that only takes a couple of hours to hike but there is quite an elevation increase in this one. It is a perfect place to watch the sunset though.
Head on out for an adventure of a lifetime. Go rafting with one of the local companies. In Yosemite there are many different places you can raft, they range from an easy rafting experience to an intense journey. You can also rent or bring your own flotation device and raft down the river all on your own following these rules.
As I’m sure you can imagine there are many great places to go kayaking while visiting Yosemite. You will be able to view some of the most amazing places while enjoying going down the river. The best months and usually the only months to enjoy kayaking in Yosemite are June and July. For in-depth information like how to tell if you can kayak down the river or not,
Fishing is a perfect family-friendly activity to do while visiting the park. There are 770 miles of streams along the 58 rivers found in Yosemite. Anyone who is fishing and over the age of 16, will need to make sure to carry a permit. You can easily purchase one in Yosemite Valley at the Sport or Mountain Shop. Make sure that you read all the laws and restrictions that are in place before deciding to fish inside the park. I can’t imagine a better place to teach your children how to fish than in this beautiful park!
Camp In Curry Village (Half Dome Village)
They have a fun place to camp overnight in Curry Village also known as Half Dome Village from 2016-2019. You can stay in a canvas tent, a cabin or a cottage. Either one offers the experience of a lifetime. Stay during the offseason and save quite a bit of money off of your lodging.
Take A Bus Tour
Not into hiking the trails around Yosemite? Or spend a few too many days hiking on foot and need a break? Well then try out this bus tour which ranges from 2-8 hour tour There are many different itineraries to choose from depending on what tour you choose. Most of the tours will bring you by most of the iconic places to view in the park.
Horseback or Mule Riding
Horseback riding around the park is another memorable way to see the park. There are multiple companies that offer rides through the park. You can find the complete list of places here. Mule rides are another fun way to experience this beautiful park, they are offered at three different stables around the park, that way you can ride no matter what area of the park you are looking forward to seeing.
Make sure not to miss seeing Yosemite Falls. These falls are actually the 5th tallest in the world and are made up of 3 different falls. The Upper Yosemite Fall which is a 1,430 feet drop, the middle cascade with a 675 feet drop, and the Lower Yosemite Fall with a 320 feet drop. There are multiple viewing areas to view this amazing waterfall. Viewing can be done from Yosemite Village and Valey Lodge. There is a 1-mile long trail that leads along the base of the falls part of this trail is even wheelchair accessible. For the more
See Sentenial Dome
This 2.2-mile hike is a perfect place to see some amazing views. Not only is it much less crowded than some of the more popular attractions, but it is also a fairly easy hike. The only downside to this hike is that it is only open during the summertime when Glacier Point Road is open. During the summer if you don’t arrive before 10 AM or after 4:30 PM you will have to take the shuttle to the trail.
Yosemite Village Museum
I think it’s always fun to see how a place has grown and changed over the years. This is just the place to do that while learning all about the history of Yosemite. This museum was the first building constructed as a museum in the national park system. The educational initiatives helped to form a model for parks around the world.
This is one of the most iconic places to visit inside Yosemite. The trail to see this absolutely amazing view is a 1-mile round trip. You need to arrive by 9 am to get a parking spot or you can take a bus to get there as well. From this point, however, you will be able to view Yosemite Valley and Falls as well as half dome. The view is an amazing 3,214 feet above the valley floor, with an elevation of 7,200 feet. You can get here by a car late May through October/November by car and then the rest of the year by cross country skiing.
For the Zipline adventure of a lifetime, you should make sure to Zipline in Yosemite. The Zipline park has 3,800 feet of Zipline taking you through 7 different lines. Which even include one where two riders can race each other. They also have a ropes course for anyone who would also like to try that or would want to include that in the trip as well.
Swinging Bridge Swimming Hole
While this is not a place to swim in the spring due to the strong currents, it is a perfect spot to cool off during the summer months. There are not many places that you can take a swim to cool off inside the park, so make sure to take advantage of this area during the summer months when it is safe.
Amtrak, Greyhound, free shuttle, or car. There are many ways to get to the Valley of Yosemite. The view from the valley floor is unprescedented. You will witness waterfalls, cliffs, mountains, and more. It’s no wonder the park gets 4 million visitors every year. So in the summer make sure to plan to start early and plan for delays. One of the best and most iconic views from the valley floor would be tunnel or valley view. The Meadows are also a place full of wildlife and would be a wonderful place to explore as well.
This is another very busy spot. As the day goes on it gets busier, so it is suggested to get there as early as possible. Especially during the summer months. It is one of the most iconic places on the Valley Floor to view Yosemite. From this spot, you will be able to view waterfalls, cliffs, and more.
There are more then 12 miles of paved, mostly flat ground in Yosemite making biking a perfect activity for people of all ages. It is a perfect way to see Yosemite Valley in about a 2 hour trip. The local bike rental companies offers many types of different bikes which include tandem bikes, hand-crank bikes, and even trailer bikes so you can include even the smallest family members.
PIN FOR LATER
Make sure to pin this post. It will be perfect and easy to find for planning out your next trip to Yosemite!!
Have you ever been to Yosemite?? If so, what was your favorite or most memorable thing(s) to do while visiting the park? Leave a comment below letting me know. I love hearing from my readers!