Published on August 1, 2023

Parents know that feeling. The kids have been cooped up too long, the Wi-Fi signal is getting worn out, and there’s a nagging sense that a healthier option must be out there somewhere. Fret not, guardians of the munchkin galaxy. That “somewhere” is closer than you think.

Yosemite Mariposa County shines as nature’s playground.  There’s plenty of room for the kids to shake their sillies out — whether that’s playing hide ’n’ seek between the giant sequoias, riding bikes between Yosemite Valley’s funhouse of waterfalls or enjoying family-friendly activities in its historic Gold Rush towns. And, when the bell rings at the end of this blissful recess, rest assured that Yosemite Mariposa County offers kid-friendly lodging that’s a comfy way to cap off your fun-filled day.

Kid-Friendly Lodging in Yosemite National Park

Boasting climbing rocks (large and small), the meandering Merced River and waterfalls galore, Yosemite National Park is an open-air amusement park for kids of all ages. Sprinkle in interpretive programs such as the Junior Rangers, Wee Wild Ones and Kids’ Art Classes, and you have a whole kit and caboodle of outdoor fun.

Curry Village

Curry Village tent cabins in fall
Curry Village’s tent cabins are classic Yosemite National Park options.

Whether a tent cabin or rustic lodge, fun places to stay can be found in Yosemite Valley. Cozied up to the base of Glacier Point, Curry Village is the command center of your family’s recreational mission. Tent cabins, standard cabins and motel rooms are complemented by on-site raft rentals for the nearby Merced River, swimming pool (seasonal), outdoor amphitheater, bike rentals and multiple dining options. In winter, the ice skating rink comes alive with whoops of pleasure echoing off the surrounding 3,000-foot cliffs making Curry Village a worthy year-round destination. Parents need a breather? Grab a glass of wine at Bar 1899 and enjoy a plate of the John Muir Munchies (aka cheesy tater tots)!

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Yosemite Valley Lodge
Go for a swim at the pool at Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Located a stone’s throw from the base of Yosemite Falls, the family-friendly Yosemite Valley Lodge is another lodging option with plenty of kid cred. The glass & wood architecture allow the Sierra sunshine to brighten up your stay, while on-site dining such as the Base Camp Eatery and the patio at the Mountain Room Lounge cover all the culinary bases that families demand. The Merced River flows just behind the property where kids’ imaginations can run wild while they safely explore its banks, and the Yosemite Valley Lodge bike stand enables breezy rides along designated bike paths. A limited number of Family Rooms and Bunk Rooms are available to those families who like a little extra space!

Kid-Friendly Lodging in Greater Mariposa County

Staying outside the Park in the unique regions of Yosemite Mariposa County broadens the scope of kids’ activities while providing some less-obvious benefits: milder winter weather; more dining options, shopping, museums and local events.  One of the best things about staying outside the Park in greater Mariposa County is the greater room availability and price points. With a little planning, your sunny forays into the Park pair perfectly with the bounty of things to do in Yosemite Mariposa County.

Tenaya at Yosemite

People looking at something interesting during a guided hike at Tenaya at Yosemite
Tenaya at Yosemite Guided Hikes are great for kids!

Located just two miles from the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park, Tenaya at Yosemite has just about everything for the traveling family. With a variety of rooms from the main lodge to cottages and their signature Explorer Cabins, this luxe Sierra resort has all-in amenities such as swimming pools (one indoor, three outdoor including the kids’ splash pool and “Dive-In Movies”), biking (bikes provided), game room, gold panning, guided flashlight hikes and Tenaya’s on-site dining.  Winter brings a storybook vibe with holiday decorations/events, toasty fires (indoors and out), as well as the Tenaya ice skating rink inspiring pint-sized blades of glory. For more winter fun, check out nearby Goat Meadow Trailhead & Snow Play Area where sleds just whoosh a little faster.

Yosemite View Lodge

Yosemite View Lodge with outdoor pool
If the beautiful views of the Merced River don’t tempt you, Yosemite View Lodge also offers outdoor swimming pools and the closest lodging to Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite View Lodge has broad appeal when it comes to visiting with the kiddos.  Located just two miles from the Arch Rock Entrance, it’s the closest resort to Yosemite Valley that’s not inside the Park and is dramatically perched on the Merced River. Kids can enjoy 11, yes, 11 pools and hot tubs, game room complete with foosball, air hockey, corn hole and pool tables, not to mention some tasty pizza on-site at Parkside Pizza. Families traveling via EV can take advantage of Tesla charging stations, or leave the car behind and hop on the YARTS bus which has a stop right in front of the hotel. Convenience, indeed.

Yosemite Cedar Lodge

yosemite cedar lodge

Located eight miles from the Arch Rock Entrance, the Yosemite Cedar Lodge is an easy jaunt into the Park while providing such playful perks as a spacious Game Room (ping pong, pool table and arcade games), multiple swimming pools and hot tub, as well as its unique River Walk. Guests can stroll down to their hidden beach for a Yosemite Mariposa County picnic, a cooling splash or simply some good old-fashioned rock skipping. On-site dining includes the Cedar Lodge Restaurant and the Canyon Bar & Grill. Perfect after a day of exploring.

Mariposa Lodging

The town of Mariposa is home to great things to do, dining and lodging great for Yosemite visitors of all ages.

The town of Mariposa was voted “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” by USA Today, and for good reason.  Its Gold Rush history infuses the raised sidewalks with western charm, while locals and tourists alike mingle outside the rustic storefronts lining main street. Lodging in downtown Mariposa is all within a few blocks and supremely walkable, making for a boardwalk empire of gift shops, diners and museums. Try your luck at the Mariposa Gold Mine Escape Room, or drive ten minutes to nearby Bootjack for some java while the kids feed the farm animals at Coffee With Critters.

Lake McClure and McSwain Lodging

kids jumping from the action tower at the splash and dash aqua park
Cool off from the summer heat at the Splash N Dash Aqua Park on a fun and challenging water obstacle course.

Nestled in the Sierra foothills of Northwest Mariposa County, the twin gems of Lake McClure and Lake McSwain beckon spirited families who love the wet stuff. From tent camping to RV’s and lakeside cabins, there are five designated campgrounds where swimming, fishing, and boating dominate the 80+ miles of shoreline. Kids love Movies on the Beach, and the hot summer days make Splash-N-Dash Aqua Park a must-frolic destination. If bikes are more your thing, kids can roll free at Exchequer Mountain Bike Park before settling in for a well-earned sleep beneath the sparkling Yosemite Mariposa sky. Fun fact: the Merced River flows from Yosemite Valley into Lake McClure, connecting Mariposa County from east to west!

Dream Big, Dream Wild

Whether swimming in bejeweled mountain lakes, making new friends at a Yosemite bed and breakfast or learning about Miwuk history, there’s a kid-friendly itinerary for everyone in Yosemite Mariposa County. The days are equal parts vim, vigor, and those time-stands-still moments when you can’t help but say wow, this is so beautiful.  So come on up, shake your sillies out and dream wild — it comes with the territory.

Categories: Family and Kid Friendly, Lodging