Yosemite National Park isn’t exactly in the heart of civilization and that is just the way we like it.
There are lodges in the park, but they fill up fast. Sometimes you just need a retreat to hunker down in after a long day exploring the mountains.
Maybe give the kids a pool to splash around in after a long day. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park has all of that.
We got a chance to check it out during a cross-country road trip . We stayed for two nights, but honestly, between the lodge and Yosemite, we wanted to stay longer.
The lodge has been around for decades. The rooms were in the middle of a much-deserved (and needed) facelift during our visit. We loved that there were restaurants on site. You don’t have to drive too far to feed your hungry kids.
The activities at the lodge, including ice skating and sledding in winter, or rock climbing and nature trails in warmer seasons, made nighttime fun after the park, or a lazy day at the lodge super easy.
But let’s see how the resort stacked up when we really dug into the place.
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Our room had 2 double beds, which was a bit tricky for a family of four. My husband and I aren’t very large and even we found ourselves elbowing each other in the middle of the night that first night.
The second night we put our youngest (2 years old) on some chair cushions on the floor. I slept in a bed with my oldest (5 years old). My husband got a bed all to himself, lucky devil.
The room was actually quite spacious, just not the beds. We would have been much more comfortable on 2 queen beds in the room or a king bed plus a pull-out couch.
UPDATE: The rooms have since been renovated since our stay and do provide larger beds.
Internet: Wi-Fi was available but spotty. The Internet customer service line was very helpful when we had trouble connecting. Thankfully we didn’t need to be online very much because we were out in the park all day long.
Laundry: The laundry room was a godsend at this point in our trip. Many families were taking advantage of this amenity. If you bring a book you are sure to get a machine in less than 15 minutes as the loads move through quickly as long as people remember to pick up their clothing.
This isn’t college though. If someone has left his or her laundry in a machine for a few hours don’t unload it onto a counter somewhere.
A few of the machines were broken, but I only realized this after I had put money into the machine as both were not labeled as “out of service.”
I popped up to the front desk and explained the situation and they were happy to refund me my money.
Pools: There is an indoor pool and an outdoor pull plus a kid splash zone at the hotel. The indoor pool was perfect for our off-season travel in the park when the air was a bit too chilly to jump into the water outside. The hot tubs outside are great all year long though.
Arcade: Next to the indoor pool there is a little arcade for kids to play in (and their parents if so inclined). Pinball, arcade games, air hockey and even a pool table are ready for your teens and younger kids (accompanied by an adult) to play the afternoon away.
Ascent Spa: One of the most decadent things to have a hotel right outside of Yosemite National Park is a spa. Imagine getting a full-body massage after hiking through the park all day. They even have a Hiker’s Delight foot treatment.
I wasn’t able to try the spa first hand, so I can’t attest to the services. I did like the fact that I could still have access to the spa gym, sauna and steam room even without a treatment.
Night Hikes: One of the highlights of our stay was a night hike through the forest that Tenaya runs. Each hiker is given a flashlight, even little ones in backpacks.
We were visiting in mid-October and I was glad we were bundled up. It gets cold at night up there! Our guide knew all of the plants, berries and trees. She pointed out different animal sounds we heard along the way. She also showed us pinecones larger than my head.
My favorite part was going to a clearing that was far away from any lights and looking up. There are few places in the world that I have seen that many stars. We were given plenty of time to point out constellations and the Milk Way.
Before we headed back our guide gave us all Lifesaver mints to crack in our mouths to see if it made a spark. The kids were delighted by the whole experience, even though it was a bit past their bedtime.
Sierra Restaurant Buffet Breakfast: This buffet is worth the money if you want to load up before a day in the park. There are cereals, fruits, eggs, bacon, pancakes, pastries and so, so much more to chose from.
You can even ask your server for a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate to take with you when you are finished your meal.
You are also encouraged to take a piece of fruit with you for your day in Yosemite.
Dinner options: Jackalope’s Bar and Grill has decent food, although it can be a bit pricey for what you get.
It is family-friendly, but if the game is on the massive TVs at the bars asked to be seated as far away as possible. You won’t be able to hear yourself think.
Timberloft Pizzeria up by the cottages is an easy spot to grab pizza and pasta with the kids after a long day of hiking and wandering around Yosemite.
Room Service: We don’t get room service often. When I do I don’t want it to cost more than the hotel restaurant. Tenaya pleasantly surprised me. They offering most of the same menu items they offer at Jackalope on their room service menu. Best of all, it was the same price!
After a very long day in the park with the boys, we fed them a peanut butter sandwich and tucked them into bed. No way could we bring them to a restaurant and make them sit while we waited for food.
My husband and I called up for our own dinners and had a lovely picnic in the sink area of our bathroom (the toilet and shower were in another room).
It might not have been the most romantic setting, but we got to eat more than PB&J.
Many thanks to Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park for hosting my family for one night. We were given a media rate for the second night. As always, my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.