Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Yosemite City Trip

A tunnel view of Yosemite Valley, one of the most picturesque backdrops

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Where to Stay Where to Eat What to See & Do

There are many destinations in the world people should visit at least once in their life, and Yosemite is one of those. The park is a vibrant display of nature, from the massive, granite, monolith-like El Capitan that towers almost 4,000 feet into the sky, to the stoic beauty of Half Dome, to the thundering waterfalls that fill the valley with their music and mist.

Yosemite is open year-round and each season has its own appeal. Spring is a great time to visit California's treasure of the Sierra Nevada, with wildflowers blooming and waterfalls running at their fullest, while summer is the peak of tourist season. Autumn splashes color on the hiking trails and adds a crisp nip to the air, while winter drapes a mantle of white everywhere, affording activities like cross-country, downhill skiing and snowshoeing.

DAY 1: Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Falls and the Valley Visitor Center

The Ahwahnee Hotel is another big Yosemite landmark and a top recommendation for lodging. This famous property was built in 1927 and has hosted many visiting dignitaries and movie stars over the years. The rustic yet elegant hotel was registered as a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and features a unique granite and wood façade that blends into the landscape. If you're not choosing to stay here, there are historic tours offered several days a week.

The Ahwahneee Hotel is a big Yosemite landmark

From the Ahwahnee Hotel, you can stretch your legs on an easy, roundtrip, 1.5-mile walk to the bottom of Yosemite Falls. Or take the free shuttle to the Yosemite Falls bus stop and hop off there. Stop by the Valley Visitor Center and see what kinds of ranger programs and hikes are available. Take in the Indian Cultural Exhibit and replica village at Yosemite, which shows how Native Americans lived in the valley. To get your artistic fix, the Ansel Adams Gallery, displays scenic photography by the famed artist and other contemporary photographers.

After your initial dayof exploring, sit down for a sumptuous dinner at the Ahwahnee Dining Room. It's like a majestic church built in honor of Mother Nature, with soaring wood-beam ceilings that stand 34 feet tall and floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing visitors to admire the beauty of the valley and forested meadows. The imaginative seasonal menu highlights sustainable and organic products, the wine list is extensive and the setting is unparalleled. The hotel also hosts a variety of annual events that keep guests returning year after year during the winter months, such as the Vintners’ Holidays series in the fall, the 18th-century themed Bracebridge Dinner during December, and Chefs’ Holidays series in January and February.

Continue to Day 2

*Hotel image courtesy of the Yosemite Park official website


Plan a voyage to a tropical paradise aboard one of GAYOT's Best Caribbean Cruises.
Get the 411 on the City of Angels. Find the city's top hotels, restaurants, attractions and more with GAYOT's guide.