This fun family getaway was sponsored by Rush Creek Lodge. All opinions are my own.
Are you planning a trip to Yosemite with kids?
If so, we’ve got you covered with lots of tips, ideas, and activities to do while visiting Yosemite National Park in California!
We recently returned from a week-long vacation to Yosemite and realized it was the perfect place to visit when you want to unplug and unwind from the day to day busyness of family life.
Check out all the things we learned and get ready to bring your family on an outdoor adventure everyone will love!
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Where To Stay
The first thing we always do when planning our vacation is to decide exactly where we want to stay. We were surprised by the number of different lodging options available in and around Yosemite.
You can stay at a campsite, a lodge and even some hotels that are further away from the park.
We immediately ruled out camping, because we’re not campers and in fact, having a family vacation based around outdoor activities was a new one for us!
We normally visit Disneyland, Legoland or another theme park so we realized right away we didn’t want to rough it in a tent or cabin.
After we researched the different lodging options, we knew we had to go with Rush Creek Lodge!
Rush Creek Lodge
Rush Creek Lodge is under a mile away from Yosemite National Park’s west entrance and is a picturesque setting. Besides being so close to the park, this lodge is perfect for families with young kids!
Activities For Kids At Rush Creek Lodge
There are so many different activities for kids to do without even leaving the grounds that we didn’t even get to do all of them!
To start with, the lodge has it’s own play areas designed exclusively with kids in mind. In the central part of the lodge, there are different play zones for kids.
On the top of a small hill, they have a small play place for younger kids with a small slide, webbed swing, and short zip line area for little adventurers to play on. They also have a long slide that goes from the top of the hill to the bottom. It’s fast and tons of fun for kids to go down over and over again!
Once kids are at the base of the hill, there’s also a fun tunnel kids can go through. My 5 year old insisted we go with him it and let me tell you, it’s much harder for parents to go through then kids! My knees were killing me since I had to crawl through it.
Just on the other side of the hill, there’s another spot for games. In this area they have a giant, wooden connect four game, life size checkers, horseshoes, corn hole and bocce ball. They also have chairs out there so parents can relax while kids are playing.
If you walk the short distance up to the main lodge entrance they also have darts and a ping pong table to play with.
The game room was probably our kids’ favorite place in the whole lodge! We’ve never stayed anywhere that had such a fun area dedicated to family playtime.
Inside the game room, there are lots of different play options including a wooden “treehouse” along the border of the room. My 5 year old loved climbing up and walk all around this!
Besides the treehouse, there were lots of other games including pinball (definitely another favorite of ours), foosball, pool, connect four, and even a small Lego Duplo table for toddlers!
There’s also another corner of the room that has toys, Lincoln Logs, Jenga a wooden train track to build and more.
This room was seriously so much fun to hang out it!
Each day, there are various activities for families to participate in. When you check-in, they give you a schedule so you can see what you want to do.
When we were there, they had a daily kids craft, a fun activity, an interactive talk or game and more!
Of course, if all those fun amenities don’t convince you that you need to stay at Rush Creek Lodge, the nightly s’mores roasting certainly will! Each night, gather around the fire pit and make complimentary s’mores.
What’s better than that?!
Pool & Hot Tub
Since we visited in early spring we didn’t actually go in the pool (it is heated though), but we did make good use of the hot tub!
What’s nice is that there are two large hot tubs surrounding the pool. One is for families and the other is for adults.
Rooms, Suites & Villas
Another aspect we loved about Rush Creek Lodge was the variety of lodging options available. You can stay in any of the following:
- Hillside 2 Bedroom Villas
Since we had four of us, we ended up staying in the 2 bedroom hillside villa and it was amazing!
If you’re a parent you know that not having a separate space from the kids can be challenging for bedtime and sometimes, even for sanity! It was great being able to put the kids to bed in their own room, then hang out and talk in the master bedroom.
Another cool thing about this lodge is there is no tv in the rooms. Instead, they have board games and an Alexa for the radio.
As you can tell, we loved staying at Rush Creek Lodge. We had so much fun, we’re thinking about having a family reunion there next year!
It’s a perfect place to unplug, unwind and spend some time in nature. Even if you never left the lodge, you’d still have a blast.
Hikes For Kids
Once we decided on where we wanted to stay, the next thing we began looking into was what we were going to do inside Yosemite.
As we mentioned above, we’re not an outdoorsy family so we wanted to make sure there was still enough stuff for us to do inside that park to make it worthwhile to visit.
It turns out, there’s plenty of things to see and experience without going on crazy long hikes!
The first place we visited inside the park was Bridalveil Falls. There’s a parking lot just outside the short walk to the falls.
The path to the falls is paved and super short, just about 1/2 mile round trip. Because there was so much water flowing, we could hear the fall almost as soon as we began the walk up.
Once we got to the end, the kids were thrilled to see their first-ever waterfall in real life. It spays down a soft mist that made everything slippery, so we didn’t let our kids get on any of the nearby rocks and climb around.
This was a great place to start with because there was an almost immediately payoff!
A short drive from Bridalveil Falls lead us into the iconic Yosemite Valley and it’s even more amazing than in pictures!
Seeing the giant granite rocks loom over you in the valley really helps you see the majestic beauty of nature. Just from the road, you can pull over and take in the sights including Half Dome Rock and El Capitan.
Further in, you’ll reach Yosemite Village. Here you’ll find different dining options and the village store. We grabbed some snacks from the village store to hold us over until lunch. On our last day, we popped back into the store to by some fun souvenirs for the kids.
A very short walk from here and you’ll find yourself at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, Museum and Theater.
The Yosemite Museum is a tiny building that houses mostly American Indian baskets and pieces. With a 5-year-old and 9 year old, neither one had much interest in reading about the history, so we walked through the museum in about 2 minutes.
Attached to the visitor center is an exhibit hall that the kids really did enjoy! It’s interactive so it’s perfect for children, plus it helps kids (and adults) learn about the history of the park, how the park was formed and all about the plants and animals that live there.
Lower Yosemite Fall Trail
Another great spot to take kids in Yosemite is Lower Yosemite Fall Trail. This trail is another paved trail so there’s no hiking on difficult terrain.
We parked off the main road, then walked to the trailhead. This hike is about 1 mile round trip and offers a stunning view of the waterfall!
Along the path, there are little plaques to read about the history of the area.
If you can only hit one waterfall with young kids, we’d say this one gives you the most bang for your buck! Also, since it’s paved you can take strollers on the path.
Besides seeing Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove was the one thing we were so excited to see! Inside this area is where the largest sequoia trees grow.
You can see by the pictures that these trees are massive but it really does no justice to how you feel when you’re standing beside them!
There is a free shuttle that will take you from the Mariposa Grove Welcome Center to Mariposa grove, but it doesn’t run all year long. This is very important to realize if you’re hiking with children.
We visited in Mid March before the shuttle opened and decided the 2-mile hike to the grove would be fine for our kids. Let me tell you, we were wrong!
Our 9-year-old was fine and did great, but our baby of the family (he’s 5) did not want to take another step about a half-mile in. That made it a bit of, let’s say, an adventure. My husband and I took turns carrying him the rest of the way which made it feel like a very strenuous hike!
By the time we arrived at Mariposa Grove we were spent, so it was a good thing they had benches to rest on.
We also didn’t go on any of the further hikes to see some of the other sequoias that aren’t right at the front of the grove. We were bummed, but we knew our youngest wouldn’t make it, plus we still had the 2-mile walk back to the parking lot!
Even though we didn’t see all the trees we originally planned to, there are lots of trees at the beginning grove. There are also plaques that tell you about the trees and their history.
This is definitely a must-see stop in Yosemite! Learn everything you need to know about Mariposa Grove before visiting, here.
More Activities For Kids In Yosemite
There are way more things to do in Yosemite besides hiking! Check out some other fun activities for kids.
Become A Jr. Park Ranger
Another cool thing kids can do in Yosemite is become a Junior Ranger or Little Cub!
Wondering what kids have to do to become a Junior Ranger? It’s simple and geared for kids ages 7-13.
All you need to do is purchase the Junior Ranger handbook (they’re $3.50 each at the visitor’s centers or village store) and:
- Attend a guided program in the park
- Complete 5 or more activities in the handbook
- Pick up a bag full of trash
- Make the Jr Ranger Promise
- Show these things to a park ranger and get your patch
The Little Cub is slightly different and is for children ages 3-6. In order to get the Little Cub button kids need to:
- Complete a certain number of activities in the book (the number is dependant on how old they are)
- Make the Little Cub Promise
- Show these completed requirements to a park ranger and get your button
There are so many more activities you can do with kids in Yosemite National Park.
We didn’t have time for all of them and since we visited in the spring we couldn’t do any of the water activities, but be sure to read all about the other things to do with kids here.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Yosemite National Park and would definitely recommend it for families with young children!
If you have any questions we can answer, ask us in the comments below!