by Melanie Warner 

It’s hard to single out the best part of Yosemite National Park. There are so many treasures. The must-have photos are ones just outside of Tunnel View and El Capitan. Whether you enjoy hiking, rock climbing, swimming, camping, photography – there are just so many things to do that it’s hard to narrow it down to a quick day trip. It’s no wonder the park hosts more visitors per year than Disneyland.

The crown jewel of Yosemite has to be the Ahwahnee Hotel (1 Ahwahnee Road, Yosemite; 801.559.4884; known for it’s proximity to the heart of Yosemite, resting on the floor of Yosemite Valley. This exclusive world-famous hotel is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life. It features views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and Glacier Point. Opened in 1927, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The beauty and grandeur is timeless with the rustic, yet upscale design with large fireplaces, open floor plans and over-sized windows with full mountain views. It’s long been the destination of worldly people, including JFK who stayed in the Presidential Suite many years ago, plus kings and queens from multiple countries. The hotel is the only AAA rated four-diamond hotel in Yosemite and books up very quickly. With memorable annual events, like the Bracebridge Dinner, Vintners’ Holidays, and Chefs’ Holidays – it’s a treat to be there anytime of year. It is truly a treasure and not to be missed. If you have limited time in Yosemite, make sure you visit this majestic hotel for their unforgettable Sunday Brunch. It’s one of the best places to enjoy the atmosphere with 34 foot ceilings and picturesque views of Yosemite, with a wide selection of culinary delights sure to please every palette. Reservations for the dining room: 209.372.1489.

Top off the day with ice skating outside in the cool, mountain air with breath-taking views at Curry Village Ice Rink (Southside Drive, Yosemite; 209.372.8341). Opened in 1928, when the Yosemite Winter Club flooded an unused parking lot (sounds like my kind of crowd), this is one of the last remaining outdoor ice skating venues still operating in California. They offer two sessions weekdays and four sessions on the weekends. It’s simply magical and has a big fire pit for s’mores, too. Adults are $9.50, are children $8.50 and skate rentals are $4.00.

This quick trip can be done in one day and is easily accessible from either the North or the South entrance of Yosemite National Park. However you choose to experience your own adventures, we just encourage you to venture out, try new things and enjoy the natural playgrounds that America offers.