Fun And Exciting Things To Do In Yosemite National Park This Year

A list of activities to take with you before you head out on your next trip to this well loved national park

Planning a trip to visit a national park can come with a lot of research, and finding fun things to do in (and around) Yosemite National Park specifically will lead you down so many trails- (pun absolutely intended) that you won’t even know where to start! But not to worry as we have a list of exciting things to do while you’re out exploring one of California’s best.

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1. Yosemite Valley

A popular spot that many flock to when they’re venturing out in the park and for good reason!

a picture of Yosemite near Tunnel View taken from the ground near a river with rocks. it appears to be a fair day out, trees are green and the sun is low in the sky.
Bask in those views and seek out the sunrise or sunset for excellent pictures! Image courtesy of REI.

South Entrance Via Highway CA 41 | California | nps.gov

Yosemite Valley only technically makes up one percent of the total landmass that is Yosemite National Park, but this specific part is just so beautiful and serene that it ends up being where a majority of people end up spending huge parts of their journey. There are tons of iconic views and attractions that you can experience right in this one part of the park.

There are plenty of things to explore throughout the valley like the Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite Village, and The Ahwahnee- if you’re hoping to get some shopping done or hoping to grab a great meal. But besides the local businesses, you know there’s an array of absolutely breathtaking natural features you can explore right in Yosemite Valley!

2. Tunnel View

A famous viewpoint that stands out from the crowd at Yosemite!

the iconic Tunnel View features tons of trees at the bottom of a valley with big rockfaces on either side. the weather is mainly blue skies with a few clouds and it appears to be sunset.
Get amazing views like this from one of the best places in the whole park! Image courtesy of Kyle Kephart via Compelling Imaging.

Wawona Rd | California | nps.gov

Tunnel View is such an iconic viewpoint in Yosemite that it helped make photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams famous! But you don’t need to be a world class photographer to appreciate Tunnel View, you can even bring your own camera or cell phone and you’ll be amazed to see that even the most amateur of photographers can capture Tunnel View’s beauty with just one click. 

And one of the nicest things about Tunnel View is that it does not require any long hikes through rough terrain. You can find it just past the Wawona Tunnel on State Highway 41. Find a parking spot- (though it may be tricky as this is a popular spot) and just take a brief walk over to the site. From this vista alone you can see El Captain, Bridalveil Fall, and even the famous Half Dome! So you can easily see what everyone loves about this California highlight.

“If you are planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, be sure to plan for a truly scenic picture! This location provides a panoramic view of the park, and an image that will become your screen saver for your desktop computer!” -Yelp Review

3. Half Dome

The most recognizable landmark in all of Yosemite National Park!

a huge rockface that is in the shape of a half dome on a partly cloudy day.
You can see why it gets the name! A perfect place for a hike. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Yosemite Valley | California | yosemite.com

Half Dome may be one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire national park, and from the pictures you can see why, but it’s really something you have to see in person. The face of the rock gives it the appearance of being an enormous rock that has been split in half, giving it the name “Half Dome.” The rock itself rises 4,737 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor and stands 8,844 feet above sea level.  

It can easily be seen from Tunnel View and even Glacier Point. But for those of you who aren’t happy to just look at the rock, you have the option to scale the rock and hike up to the very top of it! The national park even has a whole guide to climbing Half Dome that you can check out right here!

“Half Dome was the best hike & climb I did so far. The waterfall looks stunning at night with the moonlight. Pictures won't do Justice just gotta see it for yourself. Can't wait for more adventures like this one.” -Yelp Review

4. Glacier Point

Another iconic spot to get the best views and see the Half Dome!

a women sits on top of a rock overlooking a vast view of Yosemite Valley. she's looking off to the side smiling in a pair of red pants, black boots, green long-sleeved undershirt with a cream colored loose turtle neck on top and a wide brimmed hat.
Best. Social media post. Ever. (And it sure does give us inspo for ours)! Image courtesy of the Flying Dawn Marie blog.

Yosemite Valley | California | nps.gov

Glacier Point was closed down through most of 2022 in order to help repair and improve the roads that lead up to it. But the good news! It's open once again and ready for all those adventurous spirits to get their hike on. You can get there by car or by bus in the summer season when the roads are open to the public. And it’s well worth the hour or so drive because you will get incredible views of not just Yosemite Valley, but of Half Dome and Yosemite Falls! You will also have a great starting (or finishing) point for some of Yosemite’s most popular trails including the Four Mile Trail and the Panorama Trail.

“Awesome, Awesome, Awesome..... and did I mention AWESOME!?! Be kind to yourself.... leave the beautiful valley floor and head UP.... and you will be rewarded for your travels..... promise! You're Welcome!” -Yelp Review

5. Yosemite Falls

Come see the tallest waterfall in North America!

View of Yosemite Falls from Cook\'s Meadow, blue skies and full water
The sounds of rushing waterfalls will greet you as you take in the rocky views! Image courtesy of the official National Park Service website.

Yosemite Valley | California | yosemite.com

Another popular site not just in Yosemite but in the country ! Yosemite Falls has a height of more than 2,425 feet, making it not just a high waterfall but the highest waterfall period in the United States! So if you are hoping to see something awe-inspiring and breathtaking then this is going to be your number one destination when you head out to Yosemite National Park. The waterfall flows from November through July, but if you want to catch it at its peak you’ll want to go in May when the waterfall is at its fullest and most vibrant.

“The Lower Yosemite Falls trail was really short and fun! Took my 3y/o along with my 4 month old husky, they had a blast. I would try the Upper part for a better view!” -Yelp Review

6. Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant

Hungry after all that hiking? Enjoy some good grub and cool drinks!

70847 US-395 | Bridgeport | virginiacreeksettlement.net

If you’re tired of the outdoors and need a refreshment break, then these next few places are gonna be interesting to you. Starting with the Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant, which is one of the most beloved restaurants in the area. And it’s easy to see why! They have a really intimate atmosphere that is backed up by a knowledgeable and attentive staff. 

And on top of that they are located at The Virginia Creek Settlement that was built into the natural beauty of the eastern slopes of the High Sierra mountains. They feature a full breakfast and brunch menu as well as a full dinner menu and great pizza.

“The only thing better than the food is the service! We found this little hidden gem on an impromptu day trip over the Sonora Pass. We will definitely be coming back again, next time to stay in their adorable cabins!” -Yelp Review

7. South Gate Brewing Company

A popular brewery makes for a lovely stop at the end of the day!

40233 Enterprise Dr | Oakhurst | southgatebrewco.com

Interested in a great afternoon filled with wonderful food and excellent drinks? Then be sure to check out South Gate Brewing Company. Their name comes from the fact that they sit at the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. They have some fantastic pub style food, like burgers, fish tacos, and buffalo chicken sandwiches. And of course you can wash down any of their tasty foods with a nice cold in-house made beer. They strive to ethically source their menu and provide a warm and hospitable environment that makes them a fun, and family-friendly brewpub!

“Food and service was great. We ordered a burger to share and they split it on two plates for us and fries enough for more than two! The beers were so good, we bought tumblers to go. We already have plans to come back even though we live 5 hours away.” -Yelp Review

8. Moaning Caverns Tour

Venture down and seek out caves that’ll definitely be a new sight to see!

5350 Moaning Cave Rd | Vallecito | moaningcaverns.com

If you are looking to have a natural adventure that is a little bit different from what you can find in the national park, then be sure to check out Moaning Caverns Adventure Park. It’s an amusement park in the area, but the real highlight is being able to go on the tour of the caverns that are featured there. The Moaning Caverns were first explored by gold miners in the 1840s and 1850s during the height of the national gold rush. And it is the largest single cave chamber in all of California. This super interesting tour is fun for families and people of all ages.

“I definitely recommend this tour. Very interesting and fun for the entire family. Must be able to go up and down stairs easily. Don was a great tour guide. Seriously considering doing the spelunking tour.” -Yelp Review

9. Sierra Star Golf Course

A pristine golf course makes it one of the fun things to do in Yosemite National Park!

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2001 Sierra Star Pkwy | Mammoth Lakes | mammothmountain.com

Need to take a break from hiking and tourists? Without the crowds and bustle of the national parks, then we'd recommend you check out one of the area’s most popular golf courses. At Sierra Star Golf Course you can enjoy pristine lakes and emerald fairways all while drinking in breathtaking views of the mountains! (And the course is located at Mammoth Mountain which is a huge four-season resort with plenty more fun activities to discover besides golf).

“Very fun course and even better service. Both rounds we played had a cart meet us at the car and clubs wiped down while putting out 18. The elevation really makes the ball sail, so club down at least one.” -Google Review

You can Purchase a GiftYa Gift Card to Sierra Star Golf Course here!

10. Regal Cinemas

A great indoor activity for a rainy day activity near Yosemite National Park!

Text A Regal Cinemas Gift Card

901 Sanguinetti Rd | Sonora | regmovies.com

Going to the movies is a fun experience, especially if you see a movie you’ve been excited about or one that you’re pleasantly surprised by. And if you are near Yosemite National Park and the weather is looking gloomy and gray, then we'd definitely recommend you stop in at the Regal Cinemas in the nearby city of Sonora, California. They show all of the latest releases in a theater with nice comfortable chairs, a big screen, and an incredible sound system. So come by and enjoy a couple hours in the theater!

“Love to go to the movies, kick back with my husband, have popcorn and soda. Great way to relax and have time together, date night. Sometimes we go with a group of friends, to laugh or cry or find joy. Happy to have a theater by our home town” -Google Review

You can Purchase a GiftYa Gift Card to Regal Cinemas here!

So there you have it, plenty of fun things to do in and/or near Yosemite National Park. Whether you choose to go hiking and see the sights from below or high up on a mountain, or simply take some pictures and enjoy a good bite, you’ll definitely have a fun time there!

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is the shopping expert here at GiftYa. Trae helps people find the best deals and ideas on popular new items to purchase.

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