Bliss Camp: Autumn in Yosemite Mariposa County

Mother and child in Cooks Meadow with Half Dome in the background

Modern family life asks for full engagement, and the role of “Parent” demands even more. Caring for your children, working every day in and out of the home, keeping a home organized, multiple grocery store runs to keep the family happy and healthy, staff video meetings, meetings with teachers, sports, doctor appointments… overwhelm is real. It’s a hamster wheel powered by love for your family, fueled by lattes, lubricated by workouts, and sometimes sustained by a well-deserved cocktail.

An autumn getaway is the antidote. This is the season when Yosemite Mariposa County downshifts to a lower gear. Autumn is known by Yosemite insiders as go-time when the weather gets better, the sky turns a deeper shade of blue, lodging prices drop, and just sitting on a shady deck or taking a crimson-colored leafy fall walk are all you really need.

With a range of inviting accommodations, museums, shopping and excellent restaurants, mind-body retreats and Sierra Nevada scenic wonder, consider Yosemite Mariposa County as your recovery bliss base camp, with the family or date weekend and a crazy good place to jump off the spinning wheel. Stealing away with your family, partner or friends for a seasonal wellness and tranquility break offers the opportunity to reset and refresh with a peaceful, easy autumn vibe.

Mariposa Magic

The hip and historic Gold Rush town of Mariposa offers great lodging options, boutique shopping, foodie-favored restaurants and bespoke bars all within easy walking distance.

Downtown Mariposa. Photo by Jon S. Kwiatkowski
A gorgeous autumn day in downtown Mariposa (photo by Jon S. Kwiatkowski)

Where to stay:

Tucked just off main street in the heart of downtown Mariposa, the historic River Rock Inn checks all the boxes with nine rooms and suites, a great garden patio and adorable onsite coffee shop, Sticks Coffee (Happy Camper Latte and Avocado Zatar Sourdough Toast, who’s in?). As with all Mariposa hotels, it’s steps away from shopping, dining, drinks and the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) bus for Yosemite day trips.

Located on the main street of charming old town Mariposa, the Mariposa Hotel Inn stands on the original site of a rollicking hotel/bar that flourished during the California Gold Rush. The current building dates to 1901 with wonderful indoor/outdoor spaces like the creekside Garden Veranda (great for bird watching). Bring your own bottle and snacks to enjoy the scene before and after dinner. The adjacent Mariposa Creek Parkway is a wonderful hiking path running parallel to Mariposa’s main street that serves as a model garden for California native plants. Six rooms with persona and style; Marguerite’s Room features an original 1901 claw-foot tub!

Combine local craft brews with scrumptious farm to table menu and you have the 1850 Brewing Company.

Where to Sip & Savor:

  • High Country Health Foods & Café features fresh local produce and well-stocked aisles of specialty grocery items. Game plan: nourishing organic lunch at the Café, then score some great cheese board nibbles and a bottle of local wine for back at the hotel later.
  • 1850 Brewing Company is equal parts craft brew haven and farm-to-table find. Complementing the awesome, food-for-all omnivore menus are over a dozen flagship and seasonal brews. Table and booths inside andoutdoor patio tables outside with nearby heaters forthose chilly autumn nights.
  • Nightcaps – almost as rare as brunch for busy superparentss. Don’t miss last call! The Alley is a local fave for its deep list of Sierra-region boutique wine, craft beer on draft, and artisan appetizer plates and pizza. Warm autumn nights are the best for taking your drinks outside to the downstairs patio, even more so when local singer-songwriters take the patio’s country-hewn stage to perform.

Where to Shop:

  • Retail therapy is real, and Mariposa’s local-owned Hippsy is the place to get your groove on by browsing their collection of custom handmade jewelry and apparel that encompasses contemporary, western, and gypsy designs.
  • Browse the Brick Wall Boutique for on-trend and vintage threads, focusing on local mountain-made brands, world-market accessories, home décor, and more.

Midpines Escape

Crowned by Sierra Nevada foothills, Midpines is a natural haven with a grounding “be here now” vibe and unique lodging and dining options. Get those steps in on easy, mid-elevation hiking trails leading to scenic forest vistas, or simply chill and celebrate with quality on-site amenities. The mountain hamlet is just 15-20 short minutes from Mariposa, so all of the above ways to unwind are well within reach.

For a family camping adventure without having to tow your own trailer, try Autocamp where luxury Airstream trailers and a Mid-Centry Modern Clubhouse provide high-end amenities for your stay.

Where to Stay:

  • Renowned for its armada of iconic Airstream travel trailers transformed to hotel suites, AutoCamp Yosemite also features a pure glamping play: 15 luxury tents, outfitted with high-thread-count luxury linens, bedding, and bathrobes — everything needed for home on the Sierra range. When the sun sets on another perfect Sierra autumn day, head for the outdoor fire pits, hot tub, and roof deck for crystal-clear stargazing.
  • Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort delivers a signature lodging experience with gold country spirit. Built against a soaring Midpines peak, the “Bug’s” accommodations are Supermom-approved, ranging from private sugar pine cabins with forest-view decks to timber-framed tent cabins built for glamping.
Young and old enjoying music around the campfire at Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort

Where to Sip & Savor:

The June Bug Café is a local favorite – and for good reason. Pan seared salmon. Mango Blueberry Pie. Meyer Lemon Cheesecake. Vegan white bean, eggplant and mushroom cassoulet. Smoked tempeh and yam enchiladas. With a daily menu perfectly executed, the June Bug Café at the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort earns its OMG Yelp raves. Home cooking without the clean-up – with your only lift being wine glass to lips. Who knew?

Where to Rejuvenate:

The full-service Yosemite Health Spa at the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is a fount of wellness with stainless steel soaking tubs and cedar saunas. Plan for an afternoon of yoga, massage therapy, aromatic herbal baths and hot rock sauna. Follow with local vino, an awesome night’s sleep, repeat.

Fish Camp Refresh

The postcard-pretty hamlet of Fish Camp is a whistle-stop along pine-lined Highway 41, just two miles from Yosemite National Park’s South Gate. Big Creek burbles cold and clear through Fish Camp on its merry way to the Wild & Scenic Merced River, and the surrounding Sierra National Forest offers gently-graded hiking and biking trials.

Tenaya at Yosemite has a wealth of family-friendly activities.

Where to stay:

OK, there are times when an escape is essential but leaving the kids is a non-starter. Tenaya at Yosemite to the rescue. Within this outdoor recreation themed-property, there is a path for everyone to follow. Sign up the kids for Tenaya’s daily outdoor adventures and kiss them lovingly goodbye until lunch or dinner. The main lodge offers gorgeous rooms and spacious modern suites, and for even more space consider the two-bedroom Explorer Cabins with private decks. Multiple on-property restaurants, pools, hot tubs and fire pits are built for part-time bon vivants.

Where to Rejuvenate:

The Ascent Spa at Tenaya at Yosemite is one of the Sierra’s top spas, offering a rejuvenating range of treatments including massage, body wraps, facials, sauna and steam rooms, all located at award-winning Tenaya Lodge. Morning forest hike, followed by an afternoon Hiker’s Trek massage and custom organic facial. Renewal is real.

Where to Play:

Just up the road and inside Yosemite National Park, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is home to some 500 mature titans – talk about multigenerational! The Grizzly Giant, the tallest and oldest tree in Yosemite National Park, is 209 feet tall and estimated to be 2,700 years old. From the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza parking lot, there is a trail system with hikes ranging from easy on up. Giant sequoias exude strength, wisdom, grace – chances are you’ll sense an immediate kinship!

Even the big kids will feel small amid the soaring giant sequoias of the Mariposa Grove, just a couple miles from Fish Camp.

To explore lodging options, things to do and places to eat, visit, the #1 trip planning site for vacations to Yosemite National Park and historic Mariposa County. To stay up to date, follow @YosemiteNation on social media and subscribe to our newsletter, “The Wanderer”. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos on the people and places of Yosemite Mariposa County.

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