Yosemite National Park guide

Plan a trip amid the wonders of Yosemite for a vacation you'll always remember

Golden Yosemite

Three-day weekend: Quiet hikes and lazy picnics are yours for the taking in autumn

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Day 3 Sunday

Spend a few early-morning hours in the valley, then drive south to the Wawona section of the park.

Lazy or adventurous? Splurge on the Ahwahnee's Sunday brunch buffet (brunch $32, $16.50 ages 5-12; Sun only, reservations recommended; 209/372-1489), then decide whether you're in the mood for a hike or a rest. The trailhead for a 3-mile out-and-back hike to Mirror Lake is behind the hotel. Or pick up the Sunday paper at the Ahwahnee Sweet Shop and settle down by the fire in the Great Lounge (nonguests are welcome in all public spaces at the Ahwahnee).

Road-trip to the big trees. Leave the valley by late morning to get to Wawona and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. At the grove, you have two choices for exploring: a narrated, open-air tram tour ($8.50 per person; 209/372-1240) or a meandering, self-guided hike. Unless you're completely pooped, the hiking option is a more intimate experience. The massive, 209-foot-tall Grizzly Giant is an easy 0.8-mile hike from the parking area, and the Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree is a moderate 1.5-mile hike past the Giant.

Victorian spirit. Four miles from the Mariposa Grove is the cheerful white-clapboard Wawona Hotel. Check out the circa-1918 golf course (free to stroll, $18.50 to play nine holes; 209/375-6572), the oldest in the Sierra. Have trout for dinner in the hotel's pleasingly retro main dining room ($$$; 209/375-1425), followed by gooey pine nut pie―fuel for the drive home.

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