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Things to do in Sierra Nevada, California

Our most recommended things to do in Sierra Nevada, California

South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

1. South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

Embark on a sightseeing cruise starting in South Lake Tahoe either at sunset or during the day. Take in the scenic beauty while cruising 11 kilometers across the lake to Emerald Bay, one of the top ten most photographed places in the world. Savor snacks and drinks as you sail. See the majestic mountains of South Lake Tahoe while onboard the world-class Tahoe Bleu Wave yacht. As you cruise, you will find indoor and outdoor seating with 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the snow-capped mountains, Fannette Island, Vikingsholm Castle, Eagle Waterfall, and the Rubicon. Navigate the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe while hearing your captain's narration about this lake. You may even get the chance to see a variety of wildlife such as the bald eagle, black bears, and wild geese. If you've chosen the sunset option, relax and watch the sun dip low below the sky.

From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip

2. From San Francisco: Yosemite Park Guided Day Trip

Escape the crowds of San Francisco on a full-day guided tour to Yosemite National Park. See highlights, including Yosemite Falls and Inspiration Point. Enjoy seamless travel in a bio-fueled mini-coach. Heading east across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge offers great views of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, and the Golden Gate Bridge. En route to the park the tour crosses through the Central Valley, where you will stop at a fruit stand for some local produce. Famous for its rich volcanic soil, the Central Valley is the largest agricultural region in the United States. The section the tour drives through is best known for specialty fruits and nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cherries, and strawberries. After this quick rest stop, you will enter the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Continuing into the mountains brings you to California gold country and the gold rush town of Groveland before the tour winds its way into Yosemite National Park. On your 1.5-hour narrated coach tour of Yosemite's glaciated valley, you will see famous waterfalls and rock formations including Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America. Continue on past El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridalveil Falls, Sentinel Dome, and much more. During the tour you will see Yosemite Valley from a number of great vantage points, the best of which is perhaps Inspiration Point. After the tour, you will stop for the afternoon near the base of Yosemite Falls. If you have not already picked up picnic supplies, there are many options for getting lunch in the park. You will have 3-4 hours of free time to explore the valley as you choose. You can walk to the base of Yosemite Falls, check out the visitor center, visit the Ansel Adams Gallery, stop in at the Ahwahnee Hotel, rent a cruiser bike, or hike some of the trails that originate from the valley. Although you could easily spend 3 weeks in Yosemite, the 3 hours you get on your own is enough time to understand why Yosemite is one of America's most popular national parks.

From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

3. From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park

Travel through the Great Central Valley into the Sierra Foothills where Forty-Niners panned for Gold. Follow the beautiful Merced River to the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Glaciers cut through these mountains forming spectacular granite monuments you will see throughout the park. Spend a total of 4 hours within the Yosemite National Park: 1-hour on a guided tour and 3 hours to explore on your own. There is the option of selecting a Chinese-speaking guide on certain days. Take advantage of the photo opportunities at: • El Capitan • Bridalveil Falls • Vernal Falls • Yosemite Falls • Cathedral Spires • Half Dome

From San Francisco: Yosemite Tour with Giant Sequoias Hike

4. From San Francisco: Yosemite Tour with Giant Sequoias Hike

Begin your Yosemite National Park day tour by getting picked up at select San Francisco hotels. Cross the Bay Bridge and drive through the Central Valley to the town of Oakdale where you will stop for a short break. Start your day in the park at Tunnel View. Then, go to Bridalveil Falls for a quick walk to the base of the roaring waterfall. Next, proceed onto Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. After, enjoy some free time where you will get a chance to picnic at the base of Yosemite Falls, by a river, or in a granite-enclosed meadow. Chances are high that you will see rock climbers in the spring or fall, bears in the summer, and spectacular ice formations in the winter. After regrouping, head to El Capitan, the center of the rock climbing universe. Depending on the season, you may see some climbers on the rock, but they will appear smaller than ants on the 3000-foot (914 meters) rock. Enjoy a photo stop at Valley View and then head to the Tuolumne Grove to take a one-mile (1.6 km) hike to see a grove of 1500-year-old giant sequoia trees. Please note that the hike to the sequoias may not be available during the snow season. After the hike, head back to San Francisco with a restroom stop along the way.

San Francisco: Yosemite National Park & Giant Sequoias Hike

5. San Francisco: Yosemite National Park & Giant Sequoias Hike

Experience both the Yosemite Valley and the Giant Sequoia Walk on this day tour. See why artists and poets have been inspired for generations by the breathtaking sceneries at the national park. Since 1890, the beautiful Yosemite National Park has been the jewel of America's National Parks, possessing some of the best-known landmarks in the world, such as the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls. Have 5 to 6 hours to explore the stunning national park, and take in the majestic natural wonders, accompanied by a complimentary audio-guided tour. See the spectacular Half Dome and El Capitan, two of the most frequently climbed cliffs in the world. It is also home to several groves of stunning Giant Sequoia trees, the largest trees on earth. The Giant Sequoia Walk is along 1 mile (1.5 km) of paved trail with a 400 ft (120 m) incline, snow depth permitting. On a group tour, view stunning panoramas, go on walks, and even hike a little, before returning to San Francisco. Or if you prefer, upgrade to a private tour for your group only.

From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park Full-Day Trip

6. From San Francisco: Yosemite National Park Full-Day Trip

Spend an active, fun-filled day learning why Yosemite is one of America’s most popular national parks. Hike through the park with an experienced guide and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature on this tour. Start off by making your way east from San Francisco and heading across the Bay Bridge. Continue toward the Sierras and into the mountains. Learn about California’s rich history as you pass through some of the first settlements built during the Gold Rush. Arrive in Yosemite National Park for a 2.5-mile round-trip hike to see the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. Be prepared for a strenuous hike, descending 400 feet into the grove, before turning around and trekking back up. Next, cruise into the famous Yosemite Valley to take in views of Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, and more. Capture breathtaking photos at Tunnel View and take in the eastern expanse of Yosemite Valley. Then, enjoy 1.5 hours of free time to explore on your own. You can meander down paved paths, hike around Yosemite Falls, engage further with the park’s history at the visitor’s center, or visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. In the late afternoon, you’ll depart for San Francisco, stopping for a short break before arriving back in the city. Arrive back at your hotel in the late evening to sleep off the day’s adventures.

South Lake Tahoe: Happy Hour Cruise

7. South Lake Tahoe: Happy Hour Cruise

Begin at South Lake Tahoe and embark on a 2-hour happy hour cruise. Experience a happy hour like no other on board the Tahoe Bleu Wave as it cruises on the gorgeous Lake Tahoe water. Enjoy your afternoon as you munch on delicious snacks and sip on signature drinks. Take in the scenic beauty across the lake to the pristine Emerald Bay, known as one of the top ten most photographed places in the world. Admire the mountains in the backdrop with 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. Navigate the beautiful waters with your captain who will give a personal narration of the facts and figures of this lake. You’ll even get the chance to see a variety of wildlife such as the bald eagle, black bears, and wild geese.

San Jose: Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Trip

8. San Jose: Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Trip

Towering granite cliffs and giant sequoias headline this full-day Yosemite tour from San Jose. Expert guides will make sure you don’t miss the history, geology, wildflowers, and wildlife, that have made this glacier-carved valley the jewel of America’s national park system. Your Yosemite Giant Sequoia Tour from San Jose begins with pickup from your hotel, then heads east crossing through California’s fertile San Joaquin (aka Central) Valley and into the craggy Sierra Nevada mountains. This is the only Yosemite Valley tour where you will also experience the solitude of the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias, the largest living things on earth. You’ll reconsider your place in the world, 2,000-year-old trees can make people do that. Your heart (and camera) will be racing as you enter Yosemite Valley, enjoying stops at Inspiration Point and El Capitan Meadow. You will stop for moments at Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Falls, with plenty of time allocated to "take some selfies". Yosemite is open year-round, and if you visit in the winter months, you can picture Yosemite Valley covered in soft white snow, with animal footprints scattered about in the meadows and the snow-capped Half Dome casting its long shadow.

From San Francisco: Cedar Lodge 2-Day Yosemite Park Tour

9. From San Francisco: Cedar Lodge 2-Day Yosemite Park Tour

Run away for 2 days of crisp, fresh mountain air with an affordable and fun 2-day trip to Yosemite National Park from San Francisco. Escape to the mountains for 2 full days of hiking, sightseeing, and exploring in the amazing natural wilderness of Yosemite National Park. Trek through Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and the Giant Sequoias, and sleep comfortably in your own hotel room. On this tour of Yosemite National Park from San Francisco, you'll have 2 days to explore, giving you more time and flexibility to see all the sights. Detailed Itinerary: Day 1: San Francisco - Cedar Lodge Head from San Francisco to Cedar Lodge, which is situated in the picturesque Merced River Canyon. Arrive at the accommodation and continue toward the surrounding nature. Learn the history of Yosemite as you explore the Yosemite Valley and take in stunning sites like Yosemite Falls, Inspiration Point, Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall, and El Capitan. Afterwards, return to the lodge and explore its creature comforts which include a restaurant, bar, 2 swimming pools, jacuzzi, and private beach access on the Merced River. Day 2: Cedar Lodge - San Francisco Explore the outlying areas of the park. Take a trip to the awe-inspiring Glacier Point and enjoy a hike among the Giant Sequoias (weather permitting). At the end of the day, head back to San Francisco and arrive at around 21:00.

San Francisco: 2-Day Yosemite Tour

10. San Francisco: 2-Day Yosemite Tour

Embark on a custom 2-day tour to the amazing natural surroundings of Yosemite National Park. Enjoy towering granite cliffs, diverse wildlife, and other spectacular sights. Get picked up from your hotel in San Francisco and cross through California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley into the rocky Sierra Nevada mountains. See 170-year-old mining towns and learn the colorful history of the region. Experience the solitude of the Tuolumne Grove of giant sequoias as you enter Yosemite. You won’t doubt for a second that these are the largest living creatures on the planet. Discover the breathtaking Yosemite Valley and enjoy a stop at Inspiration Point. Take some selfies with El Capitan, the Half Dome, and Bridal Veil Falls. Afterwards, check into your accommodations (not included) to rest up before enjoying one or more days of unguided time in the park. Choose from a huge range of activities including hiking, biking, rock climbing, and rafting.

Frequently asked questions about Sierra Nevada, California

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Other Sightseeing Options in Sierra Nevada, California

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What people are saying about Sierra Nevada, California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,055 reviews

On January 1, I was worried that the road would be blocked due to snow, and I thought that it would be impossible for us to do such a difficult thing on a day trip, so we participated. Although my stay was short, about 4 hours, I was able to visit places with beautiful scenery by stopping here and there, listening to explanations, and being able to take pictures. On the round-trip bus, they explain San Francisco and Yosemite, and show you a video of Yosemite, so you won't get bored. Also, for us, it was a good break during the trip because we were able to go while sleeping. It was a very satisfying tour blessed with good weather.

Mitch was a very safe and experienced driver, and took us to all the popular spots where we could have a clear view. There was also sufficient rest stops to break up the very long ride. Recommended for those with only one day.

Great tour, Roman was our guide and he did a fantastic job. The tour was just like it was described. Unfortunately due to weather conditions we could not go to the Sequoias, but still lots to do, and some large trees.

It was just amazing . The best part of our awesome US trip. Yosemite is out of the world and the guide in the tour was beyond excellent. A must see

The travel is a little bit long but it is completely recommendable to another person. Yosemite is one of the best places to visit in the USA.