This route into Yosemite starts in Fresno. Head north then east through rolling foothills. Take a detour to trace the low-key Madera Wine Trail, with more than a dozen vineyards with friendly tasting rooms.
Just before you enter Yosemite’s south entrance, plan a visit to the luxurious Château du Sureau, the opulent Old World vision of Austrian-born chef and hotelier Erna Kubin Clanin. Splurge with an overnight stay (the inn is 15 miles/24 kilometers south of Yosemite), or simply savor the haute cuisine and French country estate atmosphere at the inn’s Erna’s Elderberry House Restaurant. If suds are more your style, sample small-batch ales and get an informal tour at nearby South Gate Brewing Company.
Beyond Oakhurst, wind your way to tiny Fish Camp (population 59), 2 miles/3 kilometers south of the park’s entrance and the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. Stay at the elegantly rustic Little Ahwahnee Inn or nearby Tenaya Lodge, a full-service resort with spa and several dining options. And train buffs should definitely take the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, a narrated steam locomotive ride through rugged pine forests.