Our favorite thing to see in this visitor center is the 3D relief map of Yosemite Valley. It is very large and detailed and you can trace your fingers along the cliffs, the waterfalls and the trails. It really gives a good perspective of where you are and what there is to see in Yosemite. The funny thing is, I remember seeing that when I was a kid... brings back memories.
The kids exhibits were a bit upgraded last summer and had some interesting things for them to explore. For instance, we learned that there is a bird that dives in the water of the river and hangs on to rocks to find some fish to eat. Pretty cool!
But to really learn about Yosemite... you just have to stay outdoors and experience it. I think it's good that this visitor center is so small... so that you just can't stay indoors long. There's too much great stuff to see, like Yosemite Falls thundering right over your head when you walk out the back door of this center.
This is a pretty big visitor center, but most families won't spend more than 20 minute here. Though, you'll need more time if you hit the bookstores. There are a few cool exhibits, but nothing very kid-friendly.
You'll want to hit this visitor center if you need information on the park.
The visitor center is a great place to visit with children. Not only can you learn about the surroundings and environment, but you can also watch a great free video that is full of history.
As time has gone on and I am sure a lack of funding, the quality of the upkeep of some of the exhibits show their age. Despite this, it is still well worth attending if you are visiting Yosemite.
Our family has a longstanding tradition of going to the Dome and "getting away from it all" in Yosemite.
If you aren't an experienced camping/hiking/walking the trails family, you should stop in at the visitor's center. You'll find maps and hopefully a park employee to answer any questions.
We've done EVERYTHING at Yosemite, no exaggeration. Hiking the dome - with kids! -, walking the trails, attending weddings and family events, camping in tents, staying at the lodge. Each experience brings a new flavor. The visitor's center is just the beginning and a MUST DO for those who haven't been to Yosemite previously.
In a freshly renovated and rearranged facility, you will get information and advice from park service rangers; make reservations for guided walks, hikes, classes, live theater, musical programs, and exhibits. Watch slide shows and films; browse dioramas, exhibits, and the excellent bookstore for guidebooks, posters, videos, maps, and great books for children.
You will find a handy courtesy phone with which to make lodging reservations. If you plan to take an extensive hike or backpack trip, stop at the Wilderness Center next to the post office, where you will find wilderness permits, maps, and information (209–372–0740, www.nps.gov/yose/wilderness).
Yosemite is such an awesome place for both big and little kids. The young ones will love to run through all the great fields and look for wildlife. The older kids who like the outdoors will enjoy trekking about and looking for the waterfalls. The visitor's center is a good place to start because you can pick up books and maps to help enhance your Yosemite trip.
I guess we didn't go to the park for the visitor's center, so the fact that it was only mediocre (and boring for the youngest) isn't a big deal; however, the park is the most visited National Park in the world, so I would expect a better visitor's center. I hope Obama spends some money on National Parks.
Better for older kids than young babies. Would stay in the park at the lodge for the full experience. Half moon is closed certain times of the year though.
We've been going to Yosemite at Christmas time for the past two years. There are no crowds, the scenery is beautiful and the kids get a dose of snow. The Ahwani has special events going on, but with three boys under 5 years old, we opted to just have lunch (fabulous for kids and adults alike) and spend time on their beautiful property.