Wawona, CA 95389, USA
Photo courtesy of Yosemite Hospitality
WawonaThis tiny town at the southern entrance of the park is a respite from the teeming crowds of Yosemite Valley, about 30 miles away. Its Big Trees Lodge (a National Historic Landmark that was, until recently, known as the Wawona Hotel) harks back to its Victorian beginnings in 1876, when it was built to house visitors to the giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove. Nearly all of the 104 rooms open out to a large, wraparound veranda, with views of the gardens and beyond. Nearby attractions include the visitor center (originally the art studio of Thomas Hill, whose works are on display from May through October) and the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, where Yosemite’s past comes to life with horse-carriage rides and other activities.