First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is 1,200 square miles of deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, vast wilderness areas and some pretty large wild beasts.

Yosemite is stunning. All the famous landmarks are famous for a reason, the rock formations, half dome, cathedral Rocks. Stop to walk around the Majestic Yosemite Hotel and plan as much time in the park as you can. Believe the hype and enjoy the pictures.

We stayed in Wawona at the Big Trees Lodge because there was nothing else available in the park. Staying at Big Trees Lodge was one of the highlights of our whole trip. It is comprised of six whitewashed Victorian buildings with expansive verandas and Adirondack chairs. Sit on the veranda at sunset and enjoy a drink…a hot chocolate. I was looking forward to trying their Big Trees’ Warmer, a hot chocolate with Peppermint Schnapps and whipped cream, especially after a long day walking through the park. Unfortunately they had run out of Peppermint Schnapps but it was still part of a beautiful moment watching the sun set over the trees. Note also that the food at the restaurant here was really good, something we did not expect at all.

Just through the trees next to the lodge is Pioneer Yosemite History Center. These are the original buildings built in the park which you can walk around and into. They also have horse drawn wagons, a beautiful covered bridge and a range of other historic items, all in an outdoor setting which is worth exploring.

Verdict: Like everything else around San Francisco, visit off peak as there are a lot of visitors (and a lot of traffic) during peak times of the year. Big Trees Lodge, 8308 Wawona Road, California, USA