2 night/ 3 day Yosemite itinerary . . . but make it better. Designed by a local.

2 night/ 3 day Yosemite itinerary . . . but make it better. Designed by a local.

I have an alternative itinerary for you that will make your Yosemite trip unique, extra special & help you explore more of the area.

Many people will tell you to stay in mariposa, el Portal or Fresno (depending on which direction you are entering from) and to visit the valley floor then head off to the next place. Well, I’ll tell you which of the generic, cookie cutter itineraries to listen to and which to switch up.

Getting here:

You can fly into 4 airports to easily arrive to this area.

Fresno (FAT) – 69 miles and approximately an hour and 15 minute drive. This is the ideal option.

San Francisco (SFO) – 128 miles and 2 hours and 40 minutes by car, depending on traffic. This can easily turn into a 3-4 hour drive if you arrive during rush hour

Oakland (OAK) – I know many blogs don’t even mention this airport as an option but its honestly the 2nd best option after fresno in my opinion. 118 miles and about 2 hours and 20 minutes by car. This smaller (than SFO) airport is easier to navigate and you avoid a big chunk of the city and bay bridge traffic too!
Sacramento (SMF) – 149 miles and 2 hours and 30 minutes by car. This is the farthest airport in miles but not necessarily by drive time.

Where to stay:

Posada Mariana. This gorgeous bed and breakfast is owned and operated by a lovely couple who have clearly poured their heart and soul into this land. They have 5 rooms, each with its own unique décor and private bathroom, a lovely courtyard with sitting areas, a lush garden and greenery, two indoor sitting areas, several outdoor sitting areas, a huge koi pond, a swimming pool with sweeping views and a cute swing overlooking the foothills and facing the sunset! They also offer complimentary breakfast to their guests, so you can fill belly before heading out to explore for the day.

Where to go in the park:

OK, so this depends. If this is your first time visiting Yosemite National Park, then I do recommend visiting the valley. There are countless waterfall hikes you can venture out on, ranging from easy to extremely difficult. In fact, the half dome hike even starts in the valley! Apart from outdoor adventures, there’s also a visitor center, shops, dining options, an art gallery and a museum!

Easy hikes:

Lower Yosemite Falls (1.2 miles)

Bridalveil Falls (0.4 miles)

Moderate hikes:

Mirror lake via the Valley Loop (4.4 miles)

Vernal Falls foot bridge via John Muir trail (1.7 miles)

Difficult hikes:

Four Miles Train (9.2 miles)

Upper Yosemite Falls (7.6 miles)

If you have already previously visited the park or even if you haven’t but you want a more unique experience, I suggest venturing outside of the valley floor and visiting one of Yosemite’s many beautiful lakes.
Tenaya lake • May lake • Cathedral lakes

Or even better, hire a local guide to help you do something really unique, like stand up paddle board on one of Yosemite’s lakes or a guided nature therapy session.

Where to go after the park:

One of my favorite things to do after an activity filled day at the park is to stop at the Yosemite Bug Health Spa and utilize their spa & services. Some options include a cedarwood sauna, hot tub overlooking the forest, cold rain shower, essential oil soaks and massages. You will need to schedule appointments for the massage and essential oil soaks ahead of time but the other amenities are available on a walk in basis.

Where to eat:

After an adventurous day at the park, I am going to recommend two dinner options for a 2 night itinerary. On the evening you choose to stop by the spa for some pampering and relaxation, I suggest you stay right on site there and eat at the June Bug Cafe. They have a HUGE menu and are able to cater to vegans and vegetarians. On the other evening, I highly recommend you head back to Catheys Valley and stop in for dinner at The Oasis. They have indoor, as well as lovely outdoor seating options. The menu offers a variety of food; from burgers and steaks to authentic Mexican food! They also cater to vegans and vegetarians with delicious options that go beyond a “salad” consisting of iceberg lettuce and they have the friendliest staff EVER!