Vacation to San Fran/Yosemite

Old Feb 17th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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Vacation to San Fran/Yosemite

My family is considering a summer vacation to the San Francisco area to get away from the Alabama heat. I'm guessing we'll be in the area for 5-6 nights. I'd like to visit Yosemite since we'll be so close. Our girls are 8 and 4. We'll probably fly into Sacramento because of flight prices. Any reccommendations on the best way to see Yosemite with the kids, i.e. how much times to spend there, reasonable lodging, drive through the park, guided tours, short hikes, etc. Our 4 year old could do about an hour hike if the terrain isn't too rough. I'd appreciate any suggestions.
kduncan65 is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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Is this a summer visit? You will need to book your Yosemite reservations ASAP. Here is the website for lodging inside the park:

Most people prefer Yosemite Lodge, which is in Yosemite Valley near the falls (Yosemite Falls). The Ahwahnee is lovely but very expensive, and Curry Village and Housekeeping Camp are mostly tent cabins---fine for some people; others don't like it. Other lodging (Wawona, White Wolf, etc.) is outside Yosemite Valley. If the valley is full, you can check for alternatives just outside the park at the entrance; the lodging is a bit nicer but you have to drive back and forth into the park.

Your "Four" might be able to walk up the trail from happy Isles as far as the Vernal Falls bridge for a great view of the falls and the cliffs. I can't remember how far is it---maybe half a mile?---but the trail is wide and paved. It does go uphill, but I've seen lots of small children along that stretch.

If you have two nights, consider spending the second one up at Tuolumne Meadows, a high alpine meadow surrounded by peaks 11,000' and higher. The lodge up there is rustic (tent cabins) but it is a lovely place. Lots of level hikes there; some trails just take you for a nice wander along the river. Tuolumne is a 90 minute drive from the valley, with great views of the granite peaks of the Sierras along the way.

enzian is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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With such a short time to spend pick either SF or Yosemite. You won't really have time for both. Lots for kids in SF and area. Great beauty and nature in Yosemite.
beazor is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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With 6 nights, you could do 4 in San Francisco and 2 in Yosemite. Sacramento is a good option, and you could also look into OAK & SJC (Oakland & San Jose).
trippinkpj is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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I meant the other cities for flying into.
trippinkpj is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 06:05 PM
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You can do both in 5-6 nights. I have to believe that whatever you save in airfare in flying into Sacramento you'll lose in time and auto expense driving down to San Francisco. Oakland airport was a bit less expensive for us, and it's a straight shot across the bay into SF - maybe even faster than flying into SF International. The lodging descriptions/recommendations for Yosemite are accurate. We stayed outside the park and spent a great deal of time driving back and forth (I believe it takes 45 minutes to an hour to get to the Village from either of the park entrances). If we go again, we'll stay in the Village. You can walk, ride bikes, or take the Yosemite buses around the Valley and the park while you are there. Activities and tours depend on the time of year. If you are there during a full moon, I believe there's even a nighttime tour that looked fun. The Awahnee Hotel is inside the park, but quite near the southern entrance, so it's still a 45 minute drive to the Village.
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 06:38 PM
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Braunsky---I believe you are referring to the Wawona Hotel as near the south entrance. The Ahwahnee is right in the Valley, just a bit north and east of the store area.

But for a family, the Yosemite Lodge ("the Lodge at the Falls" as they refer to it) is the best choice.
enzian is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 07:23 PM
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Thanks everyone for you're input. FYI, we hope to travel in mid-July. I did find comparible flight prices into OAK and the car rental was significantly cheaper for some reason. I'll check into Yosemite Lodge as well.

A couple of other questions. Are bikes avaliable for rent in "the village". Do most other tours origonate here? Which entrance is the village nearest?

Thanks enzain for the hike info. If its paved, my "four" can handle it. Is it possible to take in Toulumne for the day from Yosemite Lodge? I'm not sure how tent cabins will go over with the misses, but I'll work on it! We're all getting excited. The scenery seems breath-taking. Quite a contrast to the South.
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Old Feb 17th, 2007, 07:26 PM
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I think you can easily do this trip with the time you have. I like Sacramento Airport because it is very uncomplicated- easy to get your luggage, easy to rental cars, and easy exit. Get on I-5, heading South. You have a choice of going east on 132 to Yosemite or going east through Merced and El Portal. If you can't get lodging in the park, El Portal has a few motels. At the Yosemite entrance you will get a guide which describes all the hikes. There are a number of relatively short, pleasant ones, and you can pick some based on that information. You will need 2 nights there. From Yosemite, the drive to San Francisco is about 4 hours, I think.
Have a great time!
elnap29 is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Here's what the park website says about renting bikes:

"Bicycle Rentals
There are 12 miles of bikeways in Yosemite Valley. To join in the fun, rent a bike at either Yosemite Lodge (year-round, weather permitting) or Curry Village (summer only). Helmets are required for children under 18 years of age and recommended for everyone else. They are available free of charge when renting a bicycle. Child carriers are not available. However, six-speed bicycles with child trailers, baby joggers and wheelchairs may be rented.

Bicycling is permitted on bike paths and public roads only. Riding across meadows, through forests or on hiking trails is prohibited by park regulation." Off-trail riding is dangerous, damages vegetation and can injure wildlife. Because of the steep incline of the road to Mirror Lake and the trail to Lower Yosemite Fall, and because many pedestrians walk on these routes, rental bicycles are not allowed. Cyclists are asked to park their bikes at the bottom of these hills and walk to the lake or to the falls."

You could drive up to Tuolumne for a day visit, but it is an hour and a half each way. You time is probably better spent enjoying the valley itself. Or take the shorter drive up to Glacier Point for a spectacular view of Half Dome and the back country. There are walks you can do up there too.
enzian is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2007, 12:32 PM
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the drive from sf to yosemite is about 4 plus hours. be aware. with the kids i suggest yosemite lodge, food court swimming pool etc. there is tv in the rooms too. you do need to make reservations asap.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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Yikes! did I really type Ahwanee when I meant Wawona? I've got Ahwanee on the brain because I liked it so much when we were there! Thanks for catching my error. Wawona is in fact close to the south entrance, not Ahwanee. The Wawona hotel looked nice when we stopped by for a Saturday night BBQ they were having on the lawn, but it's a fair drive to the Village from there.
Braunsky is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2007, 07:39 PM
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Thanks everyone. This is all good info. I've kind of got in my mind what we can do from your suggestions. I'm calling Yosemite Lodge tommorrow! Sounds like we should spend 3 nights instead of 2. This will be an great experience for all of us!
kduncan65 is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2007, 08:49 PM
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We LOVED staying in Curry Village Campgrounds with our family. It is really fun--don't rule it out!
Cinart is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2007, 07:57 PM
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kduncan65 - you will not be disappointed. The one thing to keep in mind is that Yosemite is verrrry busy during the summer, especially weekends. Go during the week if you can. Also, in late summer, Yosemite Falls may not have much flow, although some of the other falls could be still going strong. That was our experience last August. There's so much more than just Yosemite Falls, though.
Braunsky is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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If the accomodations you are interested in at Yosemite are full, check back every day as there are cancellations. It worked for me last summer. I think there is a 7 day cancellation policy, so the closer you get to the time you want to go, the better your chances.
Shirst is offline  
Old Mar 14th, 2007, 01:06 AM
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If youare driving from Yosemite to San Francisco, try for non-peak traffic hours (like between 10am and 2pm) for the four hour drive. Otherwise, you could be stuck in traffic for a loong time.

If you spend 3 nights in Yosemite and spend almost one day travelling to SF, you don't have much time for SF. There's plenty to do in SF for your 5-6 nights, lots of easy walks along the water, by the beach - plenty of other things for kids to do - Exploratorium, Pier 39, taking a day trip to Muir Woods, etc. etc.

If you want to do Yosemite and SF, I'd suggest giving yourselves at least a couple of more days.

Welcome to California!
easytraveler is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 07:26 PM
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I agree with Easytraveler, although even nonpeak traffic can be sloooow. We drove from Yosemite to Oakland airport on a Thursday morning, hitting the outskirts of town about 10:30am and the last 20 miles on the freeway took us an hour and a half. We were sweating whether we'd make our flight.
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Old Apr 4th, 2007, 09:39 AM
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