Stretching along the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Yosemite is an area of astonishing natural beauty that every American should visit at least once in their life. The massive biological diversity means that no two trips are alike, with thousands of plants and wildlife species waiting to be discovered. Looking for a gorgeous staycation this year? Look no further than Yosemite National Park! That being said, it is a huge park, so it can be difficult to get around. All the main attractions are concentrated in one valley, but there are also a few worthy diversions for more adventurous travellers. We recommend getting your bearings before you arrive so you can truly make the best out of your trip. Which is why we created this guide! We’ve combined our personal experience with hints and tips from locals and travel experts to bring you the five best places to stay in and around Yosemite National Park. Whether you want stunning vistas, challenging hikes, or the perfect spot to unwind – we’ve got you covered. So let’s kick things off!
Where to Stay in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is huge, but there is a great road network through the area. While we recommend you consider your options before booking, we totally understand that you’re in a hurry to book the trip of a lifetime. If you just can’t wait, here are our top three overall accommodation picks.
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Modern Hotel in Yosemite: Yosemite Valley Lodge
Want to stay right in the heart of Yosemite? This hotel has long been established as the best place to stay for exploring the region. Nestled among the forest, it has a modern feel and cool furnishings. All rooms come with a private balcony, giving you an ambient location to enjoy your breakfast in the morning. The on-site shop is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs to take back home.
Luxury Home in Yosemite: Forest Park Lane
If you’ve read some of our other guides, you’ll know that we love the stylish interiors and exceptional guest service that come with Airbnb Plus properties. You’ll have to fork out some extra cash, but it’s totally worth it to live like a king for a few days. This charming bungalow brings the outside in, creating a calming and serene atmosphere. We’d even go as far as claiming this to be one of the best Airbnbs in Yosemite – no matter if you’re here for adventure, exploring or relaxing!
Stylish Studio in Yosemite: Peregrine Lodge
Nestled among the trees of Yosemite West, this is our top pick for self-catering accommodation in the national park. Sleeping two guests, it’s a great choice for a romantic getaway to one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Cross country skiing is only a short drive away – so if you’re planning a winter break, this is the lodge for you.
You can also check out our favourite VRBOs in Yosemite As well as looking at some of the great hostels in Yosemite if you’re on a tight budget.
Yosemite Neighborhood Guide
OVERALL BEST PLACE TO STAY IN YOSEMITE OVERALL BEST PLACE TO STAY IN YOSEMITE Yosemite Valley Winding through the heart of Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Valley is a must for anyone visiting the region – whether you choose to stay there or not! If you do end up staying there, you’ll find some incredible adventure activities and truly rural accommodation experiences. CHECK TOP AIRBNB CHECK TOP HOTEL FOR FAMILIES FOR FAMILIES Yosemite West Bit of a giveaway from the name, but Yosemite West is located right on the western outskirts of the park. About half the town is officially within the UNESCO World Heritage Site – but because of the half that isn’t, you’ll find a lot of accommodation here is better priced than homes in the valley. CHECK TOP AIRBNB ON A BUDGET ON A BUDGET Oakhurst Fifteen miles outside of Yosemite National Park, Oakhurst is the furthest away destination on this list but is still easily reached by car. For this reason, we believe it’s the perfect option for budget travellers. CHECK TOP AIRBNB CHECK TOP HOTEL COOLEST PLACE TO STAY COOLEST PLACE TO STAY Mariposa Surrounding the Merced River, Mariposa is another great destination for getting to know the locals! The accommodation here is well priced too, and you get to stay only a short drive from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. CHECK TOP AIRBNB CHECK TOP HOTEL FOR ADVENTURE FOR ADVENTURE El Portal Often considered a satellite town of Yosemite Canyon, El Portal is a little more off the beaten path while still boasting gorgeous views and thrilling adventure activities. This out of the ordinary vibe is exciting enough, making this our favourite destination for explorers and backpackers. CHECK TOP AIRBNB
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Yosemite 5 Best Places to Stay
Yosemite is one of the most diverse national parks in the country, so it makes sense that the towns and villages nearby are just as diverse in what they offer. Keep reading to learn about the five best places to stay in Yosemite, our top accommodation picks for each, and some unforgettable activities to try out on your trip.
1. Yosemite Valley – Overall Best Place to Stay in Yosemite
Winding through the heart of Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Valley is a must for anyone visiting the region – whether you choose to stay there or not! If you do end up staying there, you’ll find some incredible adventure activities and truly rural accommodation experiences. It isn’t for the faint-hearted, but you’re already considering Yosemite, so we trust you on this one.
There aren’t any towns in Yosemite Valley, so you’ll have quite a secluded experience. Sometimes, you really just need to get away from the world for a little bit – and Yosemite Valley is here to fulfil your dreams!
Backpacking Adventure in Yosemite Valley: Yosemite Falls
This isn’t so much an accommodation pick as it is an entire itinerary! You will be given camping gear, a wilderness permit, and navigation equipment for your own self-guided trip through the Yosemite Valley. There aren’t any established campsites in the area, so this is a great pick for those that want a truly adventurous experience. You can also pre-select where you pick up your gear, adding a little extra convenience.
Modern Cabin near Yosemite Valley: Yosemite Hilltop Cabins
Over in nearby Foresta, these cabins give you gorgeous views of the Yosemite Valley from the top of a hill. This cabin, in particular, has rustic interiors, including a log burner and exposed beams to give you a cosy countryside vibe. It can sleep up to four people with one private bedroom, making it a great budget pick for families.
Gorgeous Hotel in Yosemite Valley: Yosemite Valley Lodge
Yosemite Valley Lodge is one of the most popular hotels in the region – and with a location this great, it’s easy to see why! Their on-site restaurant offers locally sourced cuisine, and the bar has an excellent wine menu. Active traveller? They offer complimentary bike hire for guests, and there are three hiking trails nearby. This is our top pick for those that want the convenience of a hotel.
Things to See and Do in Yosemite Valley
Want to hike into the depths of Yosemite Valley but feel a little nervous about going it alone? Explore with a local guide in this epic experience!
The gorgeous scenery of Yosemite is the perfect place to let your creativity flourish – this watercolor journaling experience is a great start for newbies.
- The natural attractions of Yosemite Valley are why the National Park is so famous – you can’t miss out on Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Tunnel View.
- Wawona is a short drive away but a must-visit for history buffs thanks to the collection of historic buildings and pioneer exhibitions.
- Ahwahnee Dining Room is a little bit upscale, but certainly a welcome reprieve from the non-stop adventure of Yosemite National Park.
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2. Yosemite West – Best Place to Stay in Yosemite for Families
Bit of a giveaway from the name, but Yosemite West is located right on the western outskirts of the park. About half the town is officially within the UNESCO World Heritage Site – but because of the half that isn’t, you’ll find a lot of accommodation here is better priced than homes in the valley.
For families, Yosemite West gives you the best of both worlds! It has quick access to the main attractions in the park, as well as some excellent tour companies for those travelling without a car. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want a full Yosemite itinerary. All that said, you also benefit from enjoying the same home comforts you would expect from any other village in the nation.
Contemporary Cabin in Yosemite West: The Yosemite Cabin
This gorgeous cabin right in the heart of Yosemite West has a wrap-around deck, giving you panoramic views of the surrounding forest. The interiors were recently remodelled, perfectly balancing modern style with rustic charm. It was also featured as one of the best AirBnBs in the area by Condé Nast Traveler! We absolutely love the small details that set this place apart from the competition – including luxury cookware and bespoke artwork.
Charming Studio in Yosemite West: Peregrine Lodge
Peregrine Lodge is a locally owned hotel with a number of excellent guest rooms. This room sleeps up to two guests, making it a great option for couples looking for a romantic getaway. The charming interiors are decorated in the typical southwest style, creating a cosy and inviting atmosphere. It’s also only a short walk away from some excellent hiking routes.
Fairytale Chalet in Yosemite West: Storybook Yosemite
Visiting as a large group? This secluded chalet can sleep up to ten people and is well priced, given the capacity. Surrounded by Giant Sequoia Trees, it is a true paradise among the verdant nature of Yosemite National Park. There is a wood stove in the living room for a cosy vibe during the winter, but they also have full gas central heating.
Things to See and Do in Yosemite West
- Chinquapin used to be a major settlement in the area, but after a short drive, it is now an interesting alternative attraction for fans of ghost towns and history.
- Hiking! Yosemite West is actually preferable to the valley as the walks here don’t require you to be super experienced.
- The Badger Pass Ski Area is only a short walk away, and if you’re visiting in winter, you have to try out the cross country.
- Indian Creek, formerly known as Chinquapin Creek, is an idyllic escape from the main tourist areas – perfect for indulging in some meditation.
- Head into the town centre, where you can shop at local boutiques and sample some truly interesting cuisine.
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3. Oakhurst – Where to Stay near Yosemite on a Budget
Fifteen miles outside of Yosemite National Park, Oakhurst is the furthest away destination on this list but is still easily reached by car. For this reason, we believe it’s the perfect option for budget backpackers in the USA. Oakhurst does have a lot of luxury accommodation picks but, hear us out, even these are well priced!
Beyond the cheap hotels and restaurants, Oakhurst gives you a fascinating insight into rural Californian culture. It doesn’t see anywhere near the same tourist numbers as towns closer to the park, so you get to enjoy plenty of peace and quiet away from the main routes.
Stylish Hideaway in Oakhurst: Forest Park Lane
You’ll never want to leave this gorgeous Airbnb bungalow! The outdoorsy theme gives it a rustic charm, while the carefully curated furniture makes sure the house maintains a sense of style. It can sleep up to 12 guests across four bedrooms, making it a great choice for groups and large families. The local deer population also like to run by occasionally.
Budget Friendly Holiday Home in Oakhurst: Oak Tree Retreat
This charming four-bedroom home is perfect for families looking to save money on their trip to Yosemite National Park. Planning a summer visit? The spacious patio has a barbecue and gorgeous views of Oakhurst. Winter travellers will enjoy the cosy fireplace and exposed beam interiors – adding a ski chateau atmosphere to the house. We also adore the unique water feature in the garden.
Luxury Bed & Breakfast in Oakhurst: A Bed of Roses
Ready to live a life of luxury? This five-star bed and breakfast comes with outstanding guest reviews thanks to their warm service and stunning location. But wait, isn’t Oakhurst supposed to be the budget destination? Yes! And while this B&B certainly isn’t cheap, it’s more than reasonable given its luxury status. You really do get more for your money staying at this gorgeous little hideaway.
Things to See and Do in Oakhurst
- Fresno Flats Historical Park details some of the history of the region and comes with great views – you can even hire a guide if you want some assistance.
- The Golden Chain Theatre might seem unassuming, but head inside to be wowed by the carefully reenacted 19th Century melodramas.
- Head down to Bass Lake for some peace and quiet – or hire a fishing boat from the local charter company and catch your dinner.
- Oakhurst has a creative atmosphere, so it’s no wonder it has a surprising number of art galleries – we love Stavast and Timerline in particular.
- Oakhurst is packed with gorgeous eateries at favourable prices – we especially love Pete’s Place and Oka Japanese.
4. Mariposa – Coolest Place to Stay near Yosemite
Surrounding the Merced River, Mariposa is another great destination for getting to know the locals! The accommodation here is well priced too, and you get to stay only a short drive from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. Mariposa has an understated charm that is infectious from the minute you set foot in the town.
The Merced River is the main hive of activity in the area, so make sure to check out the various activities on offer! In the summer, you will find some interesting markets and art stalls around the town centre. Mariposa is a little creative haven just outside a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Peaceful Home in Mariposa: Zen Yosemite
Breathe in, soak up the majestic atmosphere of Yosemite National Park, and breathe out – this is the place to stay if you’re looking for a relaxing break! The spacious deck gives you what we consider the best sunset in the entire region – but that’s not all: it also has a super spacious hot-tub, with plenty of room for all eight guests.
Elegant Villa in Mariposa: Yosemite Estate
Designed in the Spanish Colonial style, this 1932 house is a little piece of Yosemite history. Nestled among the trees on top of a hill, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re staying in some sort of ancient paradise. There is a large pool outdoors, so this is one of our favourite options for summer visitors. The master bedroom also has a private en-suite.
Charming Bed & Breakfast in Mariposa: Yosemite Bed & Breakfast
This four-star bed and breakfast is a little more affordable than our Oakhurst pick – but don’t worry, it still comes with welcoming staff and beautiful scenery. Guest numbers are limited, so you’ll get to enjoy an intimate vibe while staying here. There’s also a huge deck outside, providing the perfect setting for soaking up the idyllic forest.
Things to See and Do in Mariposa
Enjoy a cup of locally roasted coffee while interacting with live farm animals in this unique experience just outside Mariposa.
Learn a little about local history while harking back to the Gold Rush era in this fun gold panning and sifting experience down by the river.
- The Merced River is the main hive of activity – swimming is popular in summer, and you can hire kayaks and whitewater rafts.
- Castillo’s Mexican Restaurant offers the best tacos you will taste in the entire region – totally worth the drive even if you aren’t staying in Mariposa.
- Want to mingle with locals? Head down to Sugar Pine Café, a popular meeting spot that serves alcohol in the evenings.
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5. El Portal – Where to Stay near Yosemite for Adventure
Often considered a satellite town of Yosemite Canyon, El Portal is a little more off the beaten path while still boasting gorgeous views and thrilling adventure activities. This out of the ordinary vibe is exciting enough, making this our favourite destination for explorers and backpackers.
Located along the Merced River, you’ll almost start to feel like you’re in a totally different country. With this in mind, maybe El Portal is the best overall destination for those that simply miss the thrill of the unknown. If you’re settling on staycations for the time being, El Portal is a worthy compromise.
Romantic Escape in El Portal: Clouds Rest Cabin
Just outside of El Portal is Clouds Rest – a stunning area of natural beauty with jaw-dropping views towards Yosemite Valley. This one-bedroom cabin appears out of nowhere in a clearing, giving it an old-timey romance kind of vibe. Cosy up by the fire in winter, or head out on an adventurous hike to Yosemite Valley in the summer.
Secret Hideaway in El Portal: El Capitan
High up on the hills of El Portal, guests at this cabin are rewarded with gorgeous views of El Capitan and Half Dome. There’s even a small table and chairs on the deck where you can enjoy your breakfast amid this mind-blowingly beautiful backdrop. It is a little more remote than our other picks, so is a great choice for those wanting to escape civilization for a little bit.
Cabin in a Resort in El Portal: Sage Cabin
This one is a little more basic – perfect if you’re on a budget! The interiors are nevertheless stylish, with exposed beams adding to the rustic vibes. Located in neighbouring Foresta, you’re only a few minutes away from the entrance to Yosemite National Park. It is managed as part of a resort village, so you also get the social benefit of mingling with other guests.
Things to See and Do in El Portal
- Visit during spring for epic Class II and Class IV whitewater rafting experiences along the river.
- The water is a little calmer (and warmer) in the summer, making this the best time to go kayaking.
- Hites Cove is a hugely popular hike taking in El Portal mountain, beautiful forests, and secluded clearings that are the perfect setting for a picnic.
- Want to drink with locals? Both Yosemite View Lodge and Cedar Lodge are popular watering holes.
- Steak and Fish might have a basic name (and menu), but the food they offer is done so well you’ll be glad they haven’t branched out.
FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Yosemite
Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Yosemite and where to stay.
What is the best place to stay in Yosemite National Park? Mariposa is our favourite spot. This area is right on the doorstep of the national park, but a good place to get a little bit more off the beaten path. Undoubtedly, it is really stunning. Which are the best hotels to stay in Yosemite National Park? These are our top 3 hotels in Yosemite National Park:– Yosemite Valley Lodge– A Bed of Roses– Yosemite Bed and Breakfast Where should I stay in Yosemite National Park for the first time? We suggest Yosemite Valley. It is one of the most scenic places to stay, with great connections to everywhere else. We really think it is a must-see. Where is best for families to stay in Yosemite National Park? We recommend Yosemite West. This is a really beautiful area, full of history and great family-friendly accommodation. Airbnb has great options like The Yosemite Cabins.
Don’t forget your Yosemite Travel Insurance
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Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is easily among the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. With towering mountains, deep valleys, and vibrant biodiversity, Yosemite National Park is packed with hidden gems that will make your trip extra special. Desperate for a staycation this year? You might as well tick Yosemite off your bucket list!
If we had to pick one area as our favourite, we would have to go with Yosemite West! Most of the town is located within the national park, but it is far cheaper and more convenient than Yosemite Valley. If you have a car, you’ll also only be 10-20 minutes from the best attractions.
All that being said, wherever is best for you really depends on what you want out of your trip. We hope this guide has helped you to plan an epic itinerary for Yosemite National Park.
Looking for something a little more adventurous? Check out our guide to Sequoia National Park – it’s right next door.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
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Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀
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