A week before Christmas, we were invited up to stay at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite for the weekend. We’ve decided it’s one of our favorite spots and plan on making it a family holiday tradition. Here’s a bit about our trip…
San Francisco is only about 3 1/5 hours from Yosemite, but somehow we don’t head out there enough. When we do go, it’s usually in the summer and we camp. This was our first time in the off-season and staying at at a lodge. I loved not having those crowds! Tenaya Lodge was such a great spot to stay, and we aren’t the only ones who love it. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite won the coveted Sunset Travel Award three years in a row from Sunset Magazine. It also won the Best Resort for Families – Sunset Travel Award and the Best Park Classic Award.
A week before Christmas the whole lodge is decked out in winter wonderland style. A gigantic tree, rows of gingerbread houses, and even two life sized gingerbread houses to play in! They also had a beautiful ice skating rink right outside and a bunch of activities like breakfast with santa, cookie decorating, and a moonlit snowshoe walk to sign up for (Jared and Henry went on that walk and loved it!).
When we arrived they gave us instructions for a fun game the kids could play around the hotel finding all the hidden elfs for a prize. This place really is family paradise. All those details makes such a big difference in entertaining the kids.
There are a couple of restaurants right in the lodge so it was really easy to get food and let the kids run around the play. They also have prepackaged lunch food to take out when you’re exploring the park. In the evenings we’d order dinner to go and just hang out on the cozy couches by the fire and tree. Also the pool was huge and attached to a game room with loads of stuff to entertain the kids for hours. Again, family heaven. The room rates are really reasonable too, a lot of weekends you can get a room for around $200. It really is a great deal and they offer suites as well for larger families. They just announced cabins opening up in the spring, really excited to check those out too!
Tenaya Lodge is only about 5 minutes from Mariposa Grove where the giant Sequoias are. There are shuttles that will take you right to the grove in the summer, but if not it’s about a 2 mile walk. Hiking can sometimes be really frustrating with kids (look for a feature I wrote about it in Bravery Magazine next month). We pulled all the tricks and snacks this time (even the rumors of fairies living in the trees), but the girls didn’t quite make it. Jared headed back with them and Henry and I were able to explore the giant trees. Such an magical place.
To get to Yosemite Valley, which is where most of the main attractions of the park are like Half Dome and El Cap is, it’s about a 40 minute drive from the lodge with some nice lookouts on the way. We had better hiking attitudes that day, luckily! We hiked up to the falls and through some beautiful forests. December in Yosemite is cold, but a medium weight jacket and beanie was all we needed. In the valley there is a delicious pizza place open year round we always try to do go.
When we got back to the lodge we went ice skating at the rink, and ended up having it all to ourselves! Henry caught on pretty quick (it has been a couple years) and Edie gave it a really good try. What she lacked in skill she made up for in enthusiasm! They played Christmas tunes at the rink and you could roast marshmallows at a fire pit right outside with giant poles. It’s all in those little details. When there’s a bit more snow, there’s also a sledding hill that starts right at the rink. Again, family heaven! We’ll have to go back and check it out next time.