Yosemite in winter with kids ages 2.5 and 6?

We haven't been to Yosemite since the kids were born, and I'm thinking about planning a winter mini-vacation. The recommendations on BPN are from 2010 and before. Does anyone have advice on where to stay and what activities might work well for these ages? We'd prefer rustic over fancy. Thanks!

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We love going to Yosemite in the winter with small kids.  Stay in Yosemite Lodge or the Curry Village cabins: it's not cheap but it's worth it.  We stayed once in the heated tent cabins and we were miserable.  Very difficult to stay warm and to cook, manage food locker and bears, etc.  It's a fantastic experience being in Yosemite when it's full of snow. The kids love looking at it, playing with the snow outside their room, sledding in the Valley, and intertubing or taking beginner ski lessons in Badger Pass (free shuttle from Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village).  At nights, we would go to the Ahwahnee with games and hang out in the Great Hall by the large fireplaces.  You can order a drink and/or burgers from the bar and hang out all evening.  If you want to splurge, the Sunday brunch is fantastic (about $50/person, I think, but kids below 5 used to be free).

We've been going in winter exclusively, to avoid the crowds! We stay in the town of Ahwahnee @ Homestead Cottages (www.homesteadcottages.com). Nearby Oakhurst has Von's + Raley's, a little movie house w/family fare, and small restaurants (N.B. - mostly fast food joints) if you don't want to cook (we always cook). This is all near the southern entrance to the Park; we often drive in with sandwiches,  (or p/up at Fish Camp Gen'l. Store/Deli) and then "picnic" in the car @ the "Tunnel View" overlook (photo op!); then continue into the valley for hiking to winter water falls, etc. The historic Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as "The Majestic Yosemite Hotel" after a trademark dispute) always has a Santa Claus on a throne before Dec. 25th (check their website). We find buying a little potted or root-ball tree to decorate in the cottage to be charming fun, and make origami decorations (...and we spring for a string of mini-lights, if we forget to bring one from home - these little "pet" trees come home w/us, and get planted in our yard, BTW! :-)  Really fun, low-key, family focused time, w/loads of cards, board games, reading aloud in front of the (gas) fireplace at the cottage, family-made breakfasts, very cozy - and we avoid the insanity of a large, contentious, competitive family back here in the SFBA, trying to out-do one another w/the holiday celebration invites! (Lol)  Enjoy!  :-)

Book online.  Google yosemite Lodge reservations and I think booking is done thru DNC.  The Lodge has a deal with Badger Pass that if you stay there you can sign up for their "stay and play" pkg where you stay at Yosemite Lodge (rustic) and innertubing, skiing with equip, lift tix and lessons  (at Badger Pass) , ice skating (valley floor) and  valley bus tour all included.  If you go Sun-Thurs, you get the best deal and no one is on the slopes.  Your kids are young, but this is an ideal place to try skiing.  If only a couple of you end up skiing then you can get the daily pass for 2, but then would have to pay for the other two for the bus tour or any other items mentioned above at the retail rate.  The stay and play pkg is very cheap --- $30 for kids and $50 for adults for the daily pass and rooms are around $125 or $150 maybe less. There are a few "family rooms" you can book but indicate party of 5 so they show up as an option. They are bigger rooms with twin beds and a queen.  They book up fast so may not be available.  We used to go in March as it wasnt as cold and Badger Pass still had snow.  Valley floor sometimes did and sometimes did not have snow in March. Badger pass is a 20 min car ride and probably a bit longer bus ride.  We always took our car.  The skiing at Badger Pass does not have a lot of challenging runs so is great for young families.  They have a bunny hill for beginners and if you go during the week it is very likely the group lesson will be just your family.  You can also just stay at the lodge without the daily passes if skiing is not your thing.  Resonable rates in the winter and you wake up to granite walls every morning.  Re the pass, we never used it for the bus  tour or ice skating because we would get to the slopes when they opened and left when they closed.  Regardless of what you do, the kids will have fun just walking around and discovering all the things nature provides (snow, bugs, animals, etc).  Have a great time!

Yosemite Lodge is great for winter mini- vacation. ( they may have a new name due to name changes in Yosemite) Rustic, yet clean and access to good food! You may need reservations now or soon.

Two suggestions: re: Yosemite, these days we stay at the Yosemite View Lodge (this is just outside the Arch Rock gate in El Portal), which has larger comfortable rooms. (Before the kid, we used to stay at the Wawona, cozy old-time hotel with a great storyteller/pianist who told tales of Yosemite of Yore. Alas, now I want to have my own bathroom.) Last winter, we took the preschooler to Sorensen's off S. Lake Tahoe. We bought a basic plastic sled for kiddo, we snowshoed, and every day we drove to a nearby pass, like Carson Pass, where there was a ton of snow and tromped out into nature to find hills to sled down. There is an inexpensive Sno Pass thing you can get to park at some of the parking lots, if you want. If you stay at Sorensen's, we recommend a cabin as far from the road as you can. For us it was lovely, no TV or internet so we all bonded playing Legos, reading books, etc.

I agree with other posters, Yosemite in winter is magical.  Less crowded, just as beautiful.  Just a note on the snow factor--it is very hit and miss in the valley.  The valley elevation is not that high, so sustained snow on the ground there is sporadic.  When it happens, it is just gorgeous though.  We have stayed at Yosemite Lodge (very nice) and the Ahwahnee (even nicer), but at least twice the cost of the lodge, which isn't that cheap.  When our kids were little we would take them to the service road behind Curry Village ice rink.  There is a small slope there that people used for sledding.  We would also go snowshoeing on the trails.  Kept trying to make it to Badger Pass to ski but never quite did--there is good snowshoeing there as well.

A longer drive, but very spectacular in winter, and likely more reliably snowy as it is much higher elevation--Sequoia National Park.  The giant sequoias juxtaposed against the snow are just incredible.