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Blog Kid Friendly Activities to Do in or Near Yosemite
Alex Silgalis | 03/16/2023Family Friendly, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Museums, History & Culture, Tours, Tours, Transportation, Waterfalls, Winter Fun |   

Kid Friendly Activities to Do in or Near Yosemite

Let’s be honest… there’s never a bad time to take a family trip to Yosemite National Park. Depending on the time of year, the only thing that will change is the sights. How about spring? Wildflowers are blooming & the waterfalls are at their peak. What's winter got to offer? How about ice skating at one of the most famous rinks in the country. Being the southern gateway, Madera County truly rolls out the red carpet for families. Here’s just a sampling of the fun that awaits you on your next incredible family getaway.

No matter the time of year you visit, the Junior Ranger Program is a must for ALL kids ages 7-13. As part of the program, they'll go on a one-hour Junior Ranger Walk & if they complete the activity book ($3.50 plus tax), they’re rewarded with the official Junior Ranger Badge. For younger ones, the Little Cubs programs offer age-appropriate activities for kids ages 3-6.

The Yosemite History Center in Wawona will give you & your kids a glimpse into the lives of Yosemite’s early settlers. Don’t miss out seeing the covered bridge. Built in 1857, all travelers had to pass through to get in and out of Yosemite. Other highlights include a blacksmith shop, the Wells Fargo Office (a historic building used as a motor & stage terminal), homestead cabins, the newly opened Chinese Laundry building, and countless other exciting historic structures. While the center is open year-round, the interiors are only open during the summer months. Learn more from their online brochure to get a jump start on planning your visit. 

Situated along Highway 99 between Chowchilla and Madera, the Fossil Discovery Center is the perfect pit stop on your way in or out of Yosemite National Park. The “gold mine” of fossils was accidentally found in 1993 due to the expansion project of the Fairmead landfill. With the exception of the La Brea Tar Pits, it has become the largest excavation in California’s history. Some of the more unique items to see are bones showing teeth marks from dire wolves, skulls of short-faced bears, and even a replica of a 14-foot Western camel. Yes, we said camel! Believe it or not, California was home to eight species of camel which went extinct about 11,000 years ago. The prized centerpiece is the full Columbian Mammoth skeleton. Columbian Mammoths are larger cousins of the more well-known Woolly Mammoths. Just a short 11,500 years ago, these giants were plentiful in the San Joaquin Valley. While kids will stare in awe at the giant, they also have a blast in the mock fossil dig, where they can unearth fossils from 22 species that were common here. 

Yosemite is known for its clear streams, massive granite cliffs, and of course majestic waterfalls. While some of these take a bit of effort to see in person, Yosemite is in fact home to an assortment of safe & short kid-friendly hikes exposing them to nature AND beautiful waterfalls. Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Falls, and yes even Vernal Fall (not to the top) all fit the bill. Another way to ensure you see the most possible is with a guided tour.

The enormous, pristine natural setting featuring gushing falls, one-of-a-kind activities & quaint towns sprinkled across the Sierra Nevada Range make Yosemite and Madera County the ideal family vacation destination. Time is precious, especially with your kids, so make every moment count!


Like what you see? Save any (or all) of the pins below to your travel planning/inspiration board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as our recommended itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded localfreshies.com® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
Visit Yosemite - Madera County
Oakhurst Visitor Center, 40343 Highway 41, Oakhurst, CA 93644
(559) 683-4636
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