Itching for a snow outing with magnificent views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls ... and an easy drive? Consider Yosemite instead of the usual Tahoe run. Hotel options can be Pricelined as low as $65 a night in neighboring Mariposa or you can pretend you are in your own personal Downton Abbey and stay at the more cushy Ahwahnee Hotel, which has hosted dignitaries since opening in 1925. The Yosemite area is snowy and beautiful right now, and on a New Years Eve visit, we were pleasantly surprised to find the park was light on other guests -- minus multiple deer and fox sightings.
This month, the Ahwahnee Hotel is serving up special Chefs' Holidays dinners. The dinners run $199 and include reception face time and a cooking demo with the chefs (including Ahwahnee Executive Chef Percy Whatley, who impressed us with his fare and set up at SF Chefs last year), five courses, wine and a kitchen tour. Chef Douglas Keane was cooking this week, and future headliners include Jonathan Waxman, Annie Somerville, Joey Elenterio (Chez TJ), Jesse Cool, Suzanne Goin, Mark Estee (Campo in Reno) and the Cowgirl Creamery cowgirls. Two- and three-night Yosemite culinary vacation packages are available at The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, starting at $449 and $332. The price includes lodging and admission for two to the Chefs' Holidays events.
Burn some calories the next day by taking a turn on the ice rink in Curry Village and be sure to bring snow chains, which likely are required in areas of the park this time of year.
Where: Ahwahnee Hotel, 1 Ahwahnee Drive, 801-559-4903
When: Through January 31
Cost: $199 per person, including gratuity. Tax not included.