One Day in Yosemite with Kids

So let’s just start with the disclaimer that one day in Yosemite is NOT enough. But obviously that’s sometimes all you have! So event hough you know it’s not enough, you go anyway, because you figure experiencing it for a day is better than not experiencing it at all. That’s what happened to us last summer.
Here’s what we felt comfortable enjoying with a day at Yosemite, with the caveat that we had 3 kids in tow as well as one almost-9-months-pregnant lady. 😉
We started our time at the Yosemite Visitors’ Center and watched the excellent and moving video there. I am NOT a crier, but even I got a little misty at how meaningful that place is. From there, we popped into the museum and learned a little about the history and background of the park.
After that, we walked over to the Yosemite Valley Chapel. We happened to be there on a Sunday, and we attended a brief LDS service. It was really fun being in that historic building, and there are gorgeous views of Yosemite Falls from there, as well. The kids loved climbing atop a huge rock out in the meadow behind the chapel. We had a picnic lunch in the shade there.
Then we walked through Cook’s Meadow, which has spectacular views of Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. The kids loved running through the meadow and across the Merced River. Since we were there in early August, this was a perfect stop to splash in the water and throw rocks. Is it just my kids, or can other families spend hours just throwing stones in water? If you have more time, it would be really fun to do some floating down the river.
From there, we hiked the Lower Falls trail, which is very kid-friendly. It’s pretty short and offers great views of the falls. Plus, once you get to the base of the falls, you can scale some rocks if you’re feeling intrepid. Our kids love to climb, well, anything, so this was a big hit and we climbed right up to the spray, which was very fun. It wasn’t particularly strenuous and all of us could manage it (even me with my giant belly and maternity dress…).
We stopped back by the visitors’ center to turn in Junior Ranger booklets and get badges (be sure to get them right at the beginning of the day so the kids can be working on them throughout), got some dinner in the village, then headed to pick up our car (we walked pretty much this entire time as we were there during the summer and even the shuttle bus waits were insane). After that, we drove to Bridal Veil Falls, which was gorgeous in the waning light, and provided those perfect rainbows in the mist.
Then on our way out, we stopped at Tunnel View for a spectacular view of the entire valley at sunset. While it had been very hazy on our way into the valley in the morning, it was absolutely perfect on the way out. We had some gorgeous views of Half Dome and El Capitan on our drive out, and we left feeling very appreciative of all the beauty we’d experienced.
Again, this wasn’t nearly enough time to do Yosemite justice, and we obviously stuck to the main parts of the valley. However, it really was a wonderful day and provided a great overview of some of the main and most kid-friendly stops in Yosemite.
What are your favorite stops there? What should we not miss the next time we go?

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