“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. ” —John Muir
During the second week of July, mom, my sister, my nephew, and I traveled to Yosemite for four days. While it was not our first mother/daughter trip (see Canada 2015), it was our first trip to include a male. This was Gran’s present to her grandson upon finishing junior high and getting ready for high school. She really wanted to take a bus trip through Iceland but the nephew (thankfully) chose Yosemite instead. He was such a trooper and I don’t know of many other fourteen year old boys that would have consented to traveling with his grandmother, aunt and mom in tow.
I won’t bore you with a lot of details and will just let the photos speak for themselves. I had a wonderful time getting to know my nephew better (read trying to keep up) and spending some quality time with my mom and sis.
There is some legal licensing issue occurring with traditional names in the Yosemite National Park. It has something to do with the change in concession vendors. I have included the old names here as well because it was quite confusing for us as our guidebooks had not been updated.
We ate lunch at the Majestic Yosemite (Ahwahnee Hotel) on our first day of the trip. Lunch was included in our Yosemite tour through Discover Yosemite (more about that later). It is a grand place (at around $500+ a night). Steve Jobs was married here on the grounds and the interior was used for scenes in The Shining. (I don’t know with which fact I’m more impressed.)
I will offer a few tips along with these photos.
- I would highly recommend taking a bus tour (even though I disparaged bus trips earlier). We reserved seats with Discover Yosemite and were fortunate enough to have Marsha as a guide. She was so knowledgeable about the area and was passionate about the stewardship for the park and surrounding environment.
- Because Mariposa Grove was closed for renovations (ripping out parking lots to put in boardwalks), we were forced to seek out some other Sequoias to view. Marsha from Discover Yosemite told us to go to Nelder Grove. You definitely have to know about this place and how to get there. Luckily, our rental car was upgraded to a Jeep because the last two miles consist of a one lane dirt road winding up and up. (I got to drive; it was fun!) Nelder Grove was serene, uncrowded and perfect. We hiked the trails undisturbed. We did disturb some of the free-ranging cattle though.
- Definitely take the Tioga Road for much different scenery. Stop at Tuolumne Lodge and park and start out on the John Muir trail. (The trailhead is right across the parking lot.) At least hike to the Twin Bridges (about two miles). While you’re walking along the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River, make sure you at least take a wade in the cool waters. (See pictures above.)
- Check out Yosemite Hikes. We found this website more informative and entertaining than some of our guidebooks.
- Notice the unusual little things.
Although this is not a culinary mecca, we did eat some good food. I will list some of the places we ate but please notice there is only one food photo. Yosemite and the surrounding areas offered almost sensory overload. This was not a trip about cuisine.
Where to eat in Mariposa, CA:
- Castillos: Tiny and quaint. The Chili Verde is some of the best I’ve ever had.
- Charles Street Dinner House: Another quaint place. (Mariposa is a quaint small town.) We dined on everything from Alfredo topped with grilled steak, Portobello Raviolis and Hanger Steak. The special dessert for the evening was a delectable Espresso Creme Brulee.
- Jantz Bakery: Tiny bakery offering everything from pies to scones to eclairs. We sampled the eclairs, the sweet potato muffins and the cranberries scones. I was most in love with the Mariposa Honey coffee. This is the place to have a sandwich and other treats packed up for your day in Yosemite.
- Slim’s Koffee Shak: Tired of our less-than-continental free breakfast at the hotel, The Nephew and I walked just steps away to Slim’s one morning. I had not had a latte the entire trip but Slim’s set me up nicely. The Nephew (the growing boy that he is) devoured a Smokey Bandit Breakfast Burrito with organic eggs, grilled onions, grilled crimini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, green tomatillo salsa, bacon and blue cheese. I went with the lighter fare and ordered the Rah Bagel.
- Pizza Factory: There was a location in Mariposa as well, but we ended up coming back from Yosemite through Oakhurst a couple of times. I would recommend their combination, The Big D. Mom declared it was the best pizza she’d ever had.
- Southgate Brewing: Warning—We did not eat here but I wanted too. We tried to get in on two separate nights. The place is tiny and it is seat yourself (which means hovering around a table until someone finishes and then snatching it for yourself.) I had read great reviews and The Nephew wanted to try their homemade root beer. I definitely wanted a stronger beverage. Maybe next time. (Heard their burgers were great, too.)
In Yosemite proper:
The Majestic Yosemite
Dining Room (Ahwahnee Hotel). This was a grand place. Our meals had been pre-ordered and prepaid through Discover Yosemite. We had spicy pulled pork, chicken club, and pasta. (The 6’2″ fourteen-year-old nephew qualified for the child’s rate on the bus tour, his lunch consisted of a kid’s meal of chicken strips. His mom handed over a big bowl of pasta to him and ate the chicken strips herself. She said they were good…for chicken strips.)
2. Big Tree Lodge: This was perhaps the best lunch of the trip. I had a goat cheese and grilled veggie wrap that was delicious.
Finally, where to stay…we stayed in Mariposa which was about thirty-ish miles to the Arch Rock gate of the park. The town was super cute and wasn’t too touristy. That being said, we didn’t spend a lot of time there. It definitely merited some more exploring. I highly recommend the town. I do not recommend where we stayed.
I recently started Yelping (mostly about and because of this trip.) To follow me on Yelp, click here.