The breathtaking beauty of Yosemite National Park will make nature-lovers out of even the most resistant city kids. You'll find plenty of easy hikes that lead you to the base of spectacular waterfalls and massive granite cliffs. Many families choose to camp, but if that's not for you, the park offers world-class accommodations (just plan ahead, the hotels are booked months in advance).
Yosemite is open year round, though summer is most popular, and some of the roads do close in late fall, making it impossible to travel the entire breadth of the park. That said, in the winter and early spring, crowds are only a fraction of what they are during the summer and early fall. And if you like to snowshoe or cross-country ski, visiting Yosemite in winter is magical.
The weather in Yosemite is sometimes described as "unpredictable" (read: never visit without a coat!). From the middle of June until late September the daytime temperatures are usually between 75 and 90 degrees with low humidity. Nights can be chilly, even in summer temperatures can dip into the 40s. Get more weather info.
There are several airports in the general vicinity. Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT) is the closest, about one to one-and-a-half hours away. The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International (OAK) are each about three-and-a-half to four hours away; and the San Jose Airport (SJC) is about three hours away, but you'll find better rates at these airports than Fresno-Yosemite International.
You can also drive from Los Angeles International (LAX) in about six hours and Reno-Tahoe International (RNO) in about five. Find specific driving instructions from each region on Yellowstone's website.
You will need a car to get to Yosemite, though the traffic within the park during the summer can be maddening. Visit NPS.gov to learn more about the free shuttle system within the park, and plan to use it whenever possible.
The park's main website will help you get to everything from reservations to park history.
Once you're inside Yosemite, most attractions, museums, and, of course, hikes are free. Since lodging in the park's hotels is often booked months in advance, it can be hard to get hotel "deals" for Yosemite. However, rooms at the Ahwahnee and other hotels in the park, including Yosemite Lodge and the Wawona, do occasionally pop up on discount websites like Expedia.com. It's worth a try if your travel dates are flexible!