In winter, this is perfect ice-skating terrain and in the summer, it’s the best beach experience inside the park. Though some recent work made Tenaya significantly easier to get to, it’s still low-key compared to the lakes situated closer to tourist-packed Yosemite Valley. If you don’t want to just sit around there’s a relatively easy, exceptionally beautiful hiking path along the riverbank.
Drive a Model T
7730 Laurel Way, Fish Camp
The best way to see many of the park’s highlights in the shortest amount of time is simply by driving around. This ingenious service lets you do just that in an original Model T Ford or Roadster. You can rent by the day or book a semi-guided tour, which can span any number of days and includes stops at all the major landmarks.
Mountain Room Restaurant
Yosemite Lodge Dr., Yosemite Village
There aren’t too many freestanding restaurants within park limits, but the bigger lodges and resorts offer some good dining options. More specifically, the Mountain Room at the Yosemite Lodge (the outdoor patio opens up in the warmer months) consistently churns out stellar locally sourced steaks and fresh veggie dishes.
The Ansel Adams Gallery
Yosemite National Park
Admittedly, the center of a national park isn’t the likeliest of spots for a fine art gallery, and a really great one at that. As its name suggests, the focus here is on works from Ansel Adams, whose photographs of the park are icons and national treasures, though other artists are featured as well. A substantial part of the experience is the gift shop, which stocks an impressive selection of books, jewelry from local makers, and a small but mighty assortment of giftables.
The Pioneer Yosemite History Center
8308 Wawona Rd., Wawona
Part interactive history lesson, part time machine, this makeshift village tells Yosemite’s story via a series of 18th and 19th century buildings, which were relocated from all over the park. To enter, you have to cross a real-deal covered bridge, once inside expect to see staff dressed in period costumes and a horse-drawn carriage or two. Getting kids to leave can be a bit challenging.
1 Ahwahnee Dr., Yosemite National Park
Since 1927, adventurous types who like to kick off their boots at the end of a long excursion have used this hotel (formerly known as the Majestic) as their base camp in Yosemite. Watch out for bears as you make your way to the park's main attractions like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, or Glacier Point. When you've had your fill of the great outdoors, head indoors to a room in the lodge, many of which can be combined to accommodate big groups; they also have rustic cabins in the pines.