What are the five best things to see and do in Tahoe & Yosemite?

Yosemite and Tahoe’s infinite variety are enough to keep anyone busy for a lifetime, so it’s no task to spend a vacation soaking up the area’s wild beauty. Given all the activities you can pursue here, it’s hard to pick just five of the best things to see and do in Tahoe and Yosemite. Here are the things you definitely shouldn’t miss seeing, though:

1. Explore Yosemite National Park. In the spring and summer, Yosemite is home to some of North America’s highest and most breathtaking waterfalls, including famed Yosemite Falls. Take a park shuttle and walking tour around the falls, and be sure to keep an eye out for bears.

2. Lake Tahoe. If it’s summer, get out on Lake Tahoe. You can do something as quiet and peaceful as a dinner cruise, or rent a Sea-Doo and go wild, but either way, enjoying the water is paramount.

3. Take a hike, literally. Whether you’re near Lake Tahoe or in the middle of Yosemite, this area is home to some of the nation’s loveliest and best maintained hiking trails, and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see at least one or two of them.

4. Yosemite Valley Moonlight Tour. For an exciting nighttime adventure, don’t miss the Yosemite Valley Moonlight Tour, a late-night open tram ride through the park that allows you to see some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, including El Capitan, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.

5. Tour the Ansel Adams Gallery. Walk around the space, which displays the acclaimed artist’s original photographs. It’s fitting that Adams’s memorial gallery is in the park, since his iconic nature photography put Yosemite on the map. It’s also amazing to see the photos in their “home,” and an excellent way to grab a moment of reflection during what could otherwise be a very busy vacation.

  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    What's the best time to visit Tahoe & Yosemite?

    There are several “best” times to visit — it depends on if you would like to enjoy Yosemite National Park with everything it has to offer during the busy summer season, or if you would rather see the area in a more subtle and quiet light, which would be during spring and fall.
    Spring is simply wonderful. The abundance of wildflowers as well as the dramatic waterfalls (during and after the snow melts) will be unforgettable. Summer offers everything — hiking, biking, swimming, rafting, horseback riding and much more. Do not underestimate the tendency to high temperatures during the day though, especially if you are not used to heat. Also, don't forget that many people from around the world are coming to see Yosemite National Park during the vacation months (July and August), so it can get very crowded. However, if you take your time and hike away from the crowds, you will be able to enjoy Yosemite's splendor even then.

    The special light of autumn turns the whole area golden and the foliage presents itself in breathtaking hues. It is also not as busy anymore, and it will be quicker to drive to all the different points of interest. Please be advised, though, that as soon as the first snow arrives, Tioga Road and Glacier Point will be closed. The winter season definitely has its perks as well — you could go on a snowshoe walk to Mariposa Grove, enjoy some skiing at Badger Pass, ice skating in Curry Village or Tenaya Lodge, or take a refreshing horse sleigh ride through the winter forest. Please keep in mind that the rangers in the park require car tire chains when driving into the park, even if you have a four-wheel drive, as it is the decision of the on-duty ranger. The better prepared you are, the higher the likelihood of admission.
  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    What is Tahoe & Yosemite's cultural scene like?

    Oakhurst is considered the gateway to Yosemite National Park with the Park being the highlight of every guest's itinerary. Our town offers a local movie theatre as well as the Golden Chain Theatre — “the” place to go for melodramas, which are being performed by local actors (you will definitely feel like you’re back in the California Gold Rush time!).
    During the summer months, we recommend that our guests drive up to the Wawona Hotel (located near the Southern Entrance of Yosemite National Park) in order to listen to Tom Bopp, a local pianist who is considered an encyclopedia of Yosemite's history as well as of every song that has ever been written. The Wawona Hotel is considered one of the National Historic Hotels of America, providing an old fashioned and charming atmosphere. Have a drink in their hotel bar and sing along with Bopp or enjoy his knowledge about the good old times of Yosemite.
    Fresno (approximately 40 miles south from Oakhurst) does offer concerts, operas and theater, as well as Shakespeare in the Park during the summer months.
  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    What are the five best free things to do in Tahoe & Yosemite?

    Here are five great things to do for free near Château du Sureau in Tahoe and Yosemite:
    1. Hike the Lewis Creek Trail to the small settlement of Sugar Pine. Approximately a 15-minute drive from Château du Sureau on Route 41, the hike itself will take two to three hours, depending on your constitution.
    2. Drive to Shaver Lake to enjoy a swim in its crystal clear waters, and then explore the small town (approximately a two-hour drive each way).
    3. Tour the Blossom Trail in the spring. All the fruit plantations near Fresno are in full bloom, so you will be able to drive almost a whole day through acres of blossoms in different colors.
    4. Drive the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, which meanders through an area of massive granite domes, majestic peaks and sheer canyon walls formed by the San Joaquin River with high mountain meadows (the length 82.7 miles; please allow five to six hours for this drive).
    5. Evidence of glaciation is present at sites along the Byway at Arch Rock, Jackass Rock, Globe Rock and more. A mild, half-mile walk takes visitors to the top of Fresno Dome, where glaciation can be observed up close and boundless views of the Sierra Nevada, rolling foothills and the San Joaquin Valley are spectacular.
    Bonus: Any hiking variety in Yosemite National Park, such as Sentinel Dome and Taft Point near Glacier Point, The Mist Trail along Nevada and Vernal Fall, and Yosemite Fall.
  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    What are the five best things to do on a romantic trip to Tahoe & Yosemite?

    We do believe that anything can be romantic with a very special person on your side. Here are a few suggestions to make your trip unforgettable:

    1. Sunset/Sunrise at Glacier Point. Do this during the summer months; Glacier Point Road is closed during the winter months.

    2. Hike around Tenaya Lake (Tioga Pass Road) and enjoying a gourmet picnic on its shore.

    3. Enjoy a romantic dinner under the stars on the patio at Erna's Elderberry House Restaurant. You’ll have the fountain and lit-up Château du Sureau in the background.

    4. Snowshoe to Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoias.

    5. Take a horse sleigh ride through Oakhurt’s winter wonderland.
  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    Where is the best Tahoe & Yosemite shopping?

    Château du Sureau is located on the nine-acre Estate at the Elderberries on the outskirts of the small town of Oakhurst (with a population of approximately 14,000). In order to access the local shopping, it would be necessary to use your car. Oakhurst does offer supermarkets, drug stores and a few antique stores, as well as some art galleries (at Gallery Row). Please do not expect to find any fancy boutiques or clothing stores here; the few clothing stores we do have basically provide everything for the outdoors (both summer and winter apparel).
    Nearby Mariposa (approximately 35 minutes west of Oakhurst) has a unique Front Street that portrays the era of the California Gold Rush. There, you will be able to find some antique stores, an art gallery and some clothing stores (just don't expect designer boutiques).
    Fresno (approximately 40 miles south of Oakhurst) is a major city that houses several shopping malls with high-end stores and well known brands.  
  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Tahoe & Yosemite?

    The best things to do with kids in Tahoe and Yosemite depend on the season. Here’s our breakdown:

    1. Sugar Pine Railroad. Ride through the forest on the logger steam train. You can also take Moonlight Rides on specific dates during the summer.
    2. Bass Lake for water sports.
    3. Rafting at Curry Village. This is good for the not-so-adventurous.

    4. Biking in Yosemite Valley. Bike rentals are available at Yosemite Village.

    5. Whitewater Rafting at Merced River. This is good for the more adventurous.

    6. Horseback riding in Fishcamp.

    1. A horse sleigh ride in Fishcamp.
    2. Ice skating at Tenaya Lodge.
    3. Downhill skiing/cross-country skiing at Badger Pass.
  • On May 27, 2012
    Château du Sureau answered the question: Château du Sureau

    What are the five best things to see and do in Tahoe & Yosemite?

    The absolute highlight of our area is definitely Yosemite National Park, which is considered one of the most beautiful National Parks in the United States. It offers so many magnificent spots, so guests should allocate most of their time for the Park (which includes numerous attractions such as El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Fall, Nevada and Vernal Fall, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove with Giant Sequoias, as well as the High Sierra with Tioga Pass, Tuolumne Meadows and Tenaya Lake). After having seen all the “major” attractions, you should try and explore Yosemite “per pedes” (hiking) or by biking (bike rentals are available in Yosemite Valley and there are many wonderful bike paths on the Valley Floor).
    If you don't mind a long drive, we suggest that you drive up Tioga Pass and continue to Mono Lake, which is located on the other side of the Sierra Nevada. It is simply breathtaking to drive through the high mountains (on an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet) and then experience Mono Lake down in the valley — a salt lake that contains two and a half times more salt than the world's oceans. Don't miss the Tufas, some magnificent monuments on the south bank of the lake; there is a beautiful interpretive walk that you can take through this spectacular landscape — you will almost feel like you’re on some other planet).  
    If you would like to explore California's rich history (literally), you should take a drive on Route 49, an old Gold Rush route. It starts in the town of Mariposa (approximately 40 minutes west of Oakhurst) and brings you north to Jamestown and Sonora (with Columbia State Park). This drive is especially beautiful during the spring when all the wildflowers are blooming. It will take much longer to get to Sonora since you will want to stop at every curve to take pictures of the wonderful flowers and the mountains.
    In case you have seen most of Yosemite National Park already and would like to enjoy some time without hiking, biking or driving (after all, you should also allot some hours of your vacation to laissez-faire activities), head to Bass Lake (approximately 20 minutes drive from Oakhurst) and try out their water sports activities
    During the winter months we recommend the following: Borrow the snowshoes that are available at Château du Sureau, drive up to the South Entrance of the Park and hike up to Mariposa Grove (the road to the Grove usually closes down as soon as the first snow arrives and doesn't open until the last snow has melted). This will be invigorating and a little bit of a workout, but it really is worth it — you will be almost by yourself in the Grove with all these magnificent trees and the snow hanging from them. It's a feeling that is hard to describe…you will just have to experience it for yourself!  Upon returning to the Château du Sureau, we will be happy to serve you a hot glass of Krambambuli (a classic Austrian winter drink that will definitely help you soothe those tired muscles). 
  • On November 12, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Tahoe & Yosemite in two days?

    Even if you only have a weekend, you can see some of the best Tahoe and Yosemite has to offer in two days. If you’re visiting in the summer, spend your first day splashing around in the lake: swimming, sailing, and so on, and then round out the evening by blowing off a little steam at one of the area’s large casinos. On the second day, kick things into gear with a morning of hiking, a picnic lunch and an afternoon massage from one of the area’s spas, like the intimate Four-Star Spa du Sureau, where you can indulge in a blissful elderberry facial. During the evening, ride in an open-air tram for a two-hour moonlit tour of Yosemite (from May to October).

    In the colder months your options are a little different, though still plenty exciting. On your first morning, hit the slopes and don’t stop until the afternoon, when you can head to the hot tub or take a cozy sleigh ride. The next morning, head back out for ice skating at the Olympic Ice Pavilion, or rent a snowmobile and tear up the back country. You’ll definitely be sore afterward, so don’t forget to book a massage before you go work those muscles.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Tahoe & Yosemite?

    The distances are wide in northern California, so when you’re looking for the best places to stay in Tahoe and Yosemite, you’ll want to make sure you pick a hotel or resort that’s actually near the sights you want to see. If most of your visit will center around Yosemite, there are some gorgeous accommodations around and inside the park. If you want to enjoy the area’s wild beauty without sacrificing any of civilization’s best amenities, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property Château du Sureau offers incredible service and elegance a mere 20 miles from Yosemite’s western entrance. The Yosemite Lodge, inside the park, is also beautifully appointed and extremely convenient.

    If you’re visiting Tahoe to laze at the lake, visit a casino, or enjoy the area’s superlatively fantastic skiing and snow sports, you’ve got plenty of options. We’ve stayed at the Marriott Grand Residence Club to ski during the holidays, and it provides easy mountain access, plenty of amenities, and enormous accommodations with their own roaring fireplaces. The 968 Park hotel, which features “rustic Zen” décor and bills itself as the area’s first eco hotel, is also a popular spot for fashionable travelers. Wherever you choose to stay, just remember that this vacation should be just as much about the time you spend outdoors as the time you spend inside.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What should I pack for a trip to Tahoe & Yosemite?

    You should pack a wide variety of clothing and supplies for a trip to Tahoe and/or Yosemite, both for your comfort and just for your most basic safety. The region is unbelievably beautiful, but the weather is volatile and the terrain is rugged, so you won’t want to arrive unprepared. Make sure to bring hiking boots, since the whole point of visiting this region is to tromp around outdoors, as well as a swimsuit, sweater and windbreaker if it’s summer or a warm, water-resistant coat and long underwear if it’s winter.

    Besides seasonally appropriate clothing items, you’ll also want to bring along a few other staples to keep yourself healthy and happy. Don’t forget a first aid kit; Yosemite and Tahoe are all about enjoying the outdoors, but that also often means scrapes, cuts, bruises and contusions galore. Another important part of your kit should be sunscreen, since visitors all year round are vulnerable to both sunburn and snow burn, both of which can make a vacation (and the Facebook pictures you post afterward) a whole lot less fun.
  • On November 11, 2011
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best romantic restaurants in Tahoe & Yosemite?

    The great outdoors may very well be the best place to have a romantic repast in Tahoe and Yosemite, but if you absolutely must eat indoors, these five restaurants will do the job, and then some:

    1. Erna’s Elderberry House. If Old-World charm and impeccable service that spoils anything else afterwards appeal to you, make a reservation for dinner or Sunday brunch at Erna’s Elderberry House, a Five-Star eatery about 20 miles from Yosemite’s west entrance. Expect classic California cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients and stellar wine pairings.

    2. Fresh Ketch. If the idea of holding hands while the sun sets over Lake Tahoe is your idea of a romantic evening, try Fresh Ketch, the much-beloved dockside seafood restaurant on the lake’s south shore. You’ll discover incredibly fresh fish and a naturally amorous ambience.

    3. Moody’s. If you want sexy, dramatic décor as well as fine dining, Moody’s is the spot for you. It has Art Deco accouterments, seating on ruby-hued velvet banquettes, and haute fare, indeed.

    4. Ahwahnee hotel. If you’re looking for a morning-after brunch, your best bet is the restaurant at the Ahwahnee hotel, which serves decadent midday meals on the weekends. It’s old-fashioned, too, with gorgeous décor and white tablecloth service.

    5. Mountain View Restaurant. For a romantic lunch, the only game in town, really, is the Mountain View Restaurant at Yosemite Lodge. Why is this place where you should go? Two words: “waterfall views.” Amazing to look at, memorable and enough natural beauty to make your heart pound.