The Six Best Family Activities to Explore in Yosemite

Yosemite Mariposa County is one of California’s top family destinations. There are a number of great things to do in Yosemite with kids, whether families are just looking to explore Yosemite’s many hiking trails or discover new places like the giant sequoia groves. For those looking for an adventure, why not try horseback riding and see Yosemite from the saddle or, cool off and take a dip at Splash N Dash Aqua Park.

Check out our pick of the six best family activities to do while exploring Yosemite Mariposa County here.

Dive at Splash N Dash Water Park

Splash N Dash Water Park reopens on June 4, 2022, inviting visitors to cool off in the hot Yosemite sun. With new features including an additional 76,000 square foot park, crowning it the largest inflatable water park in California. The awe-inspiring 125,000 square foot inflatable obstacle flotilla provides an incredible experience and is the perfect attraction for those looking for out-of-this-world adventures. The water park offers three different routes with four different levels of challenge – from easy to difficult. Features include the XXL Action Tower which will test visitors’ endurance by climbing, jumping, crawling and sliding, the Dome, a bouncing obstacle challenging visitors’ athletic abilities, the Swing, testing balance, the concentration and visitor skills with a narrow beam requiring much more than speed to stay on it and more. Additionally, the park has an upgraded Lazy Splash area for adults, an increased number of Cabanas with a cooler, ice and food and beverage service, beach movies that run every Friday and Saturday evenings, from June 10 and up.

Take your vacation by the reins

Yosemite Trails Saddle and Sled Company

On your Yosemite vacation, experience a family-friendly horseback riding adventure with Yosemite Trails Saddle and Sleigh Company. Located in the remote Sierra National Forest, families can sign up for one- or two-hour horseback riding trails. Groups are guided by a real Yosemite cowboy who takes them along a mountain trail, surrounded by towering pines, lush alpine meadows and the bluest skies. While being guided, enjoy the exhilaration of riding a horse through a mountain stream. There’s no better way to explore and get a glimpse of Yosemite than on horseback, with the Big Creek Trail being the perfect choice for the first-time rider.

Let off steam at the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad

Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad

The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is a return excursion located 10 minutes from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park off Highway 41 near Fish Camp. This all-board attraction offers rides on two historic steam locomotives along the Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company’s narrow-gauge right-of-way. The on-site museum details the local logging heritage and is open from April to October.

Visit the giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove

Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove (1)

Redwoods, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, United States of America

Located in the southern part of Yosemite, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is Yosemite’s largest sequoia grove and is home to over 500 mature giant sequoias. It’s the perfect spot for those with young children, offering a number of fantastic photo opportunities. Among the grove’s most popular specimens is the Fallen Monarch, made famous by an 1899 photograph of U.S. cavalry officers on their horses. Another must-see tree is the Bachelor and the Three Graces, again this beautiful cluster is the perfect spot for a family photo. The most famous tree in the grove is the Grizzly Giant, one of the largest trees in the Mariposa grove and, at an estimated age of 2,700 years, one of the oldest living redwoods.

Family-friendly hiking routes

Yosemite Mariposa hosts a number of easy hikes, with some routes being paved and stroller-friendly, such as Glacier Point, Cook’s Meadow, and the Valley Loop trails. Those traveling to Yosemite with teenagers or older children can try more challenging hikes such as the trail to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point or the Vernal Falls trail. To keep the kids walking, choose a hike with the reward of seeing a waterfall at the end. The hike to Lower Yosemite Falls offers views of the waterfall for most of the trek, making it even more appealing for kids.

Sally J. Minick