Bass Lake, only a half-hour from Yosemite National Park's south entrance, is often called a mini Lake Tahoe. Take that for the good news it is and you're looking at a getaway to one of the best lake areas in all California but with less of the hassle than comes with Tahoe.
The nearly 5-mile-long lake is the spot for water skiing, wakeboarding, and wave runners, it also has sheltered coves for swimming and sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Rent a boat or fishing gear, hire a guide and snag some bass, rainbow trout or salmon.
But not all the action is on the water. Dozens of hiking and biking trails lead into the surrounding Sierra National Forest. If you're feeling extra motivated, try tackling the 5-mile up-and-back hike to Goat Mountain Fire Lookout to make that fresh dip in the lake when the day's done feel extra sweet.
Bass Lake is only a morning's drive from San Francisco, so buckle up and turn on the tunes, the lake calls. Start with a run east over the Bay on I-80. Bend south through Oakland to hop on I-580 toward Tracy. When I-580 turns south just west of Tracy, stay the course, heading straight on I-205.
Take I-205 until you bump into CA-99 and zag south to Merced, where the pit stop options are plentiful. From Merced, head east on CA-140, a.k.a. Central Yosemite Highway ... you're getting there. As you get close to Mariposa, you can grab a thrill at the Yosemite Ziplines and Adventure Ranch before jumping onto CA-49. You'll bend with that until you reach Oakhurst and hit the homestretch, CA-41.
The WorldMark Resort in Bass Lake features the home living experience of separate bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and the convenience of a washer/dryer in each suite. There's a dining area, a fireplace for chilly nights, terrace with a barbecue grill, and more resort amenities ... all within The Pines Village, Badger Pass Ski Resort and Yosemite National Park.
The Best Western Plus Yosemite Gateway Inn in nearby Oakhurst serves up all the comforts of home but at the gateway to Yosemite National Park. The south entrance is less than 15 miles from the hotel. The hotel features outdoor and indoor pools. All of guest rooms feature free Wi-Fi, and there is an on-site restaurant. Sierra Meadows Ranch Golf Course is only six miles away, and Bass Lake is within 15 minutes' drive.
The Pines Resort is a lakefront hotel that features on-site dining, a full-service marina and water sports facilities. There's also an outdoor pool and the Wi-Fi flows freely. At Ducey’s on the Lake, guests can watch a lakefront sunset over roasted prime rib and a glass of Cabernet. The Madera Wine Trail is only eight miles from The Pines Resort.
The South Gate Brewing Company loves the easy-going vibes of mountain life, and serves up mouth-watering eats and craft beers in a homey pub atmosphere. Go for the burger platters and a flight of brews, or get "fancy" with the amayy-zing Italian sausage, served with red bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms and arugula, all tossed with cremè fraichè and fresh lemon. Unbelievable.
Crab Cakes is all about serving up family-friendly, fresh seafood dining experiences in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. Pair up surf and turf or dive into a fresh seafood salad. Cap it with one of Crab Cakes' amazing desserts. There's good reason this spot racks up hundreds upon hundreds of mouth-watering reviews.
Ducey's on the Lake offers great food, a fantastic wine selection and reasonable prices along with a pleasant pine cabin atmosphere. Raves call the burgers here the best ever but if it's a steak night, the 4 oz. filet gets the vote. Then again, the primerib ... the seafood ... the salads ... the desserts. Ducey's is amazing across the board.
How many times have you gone somewhere and come away wondering why your photos don't look as good as the photos on the postcards you bought at the gift shop? Photo Safari Yosemite knows when and where to make these photos happen, and they will take you by the hand to help you make it happen, too. Sign on for a day tour and make your own postcard-worthy photo memories.
Get on the water at Bass Lake with a rental. Every way you can imagine to do it is available to you, from kayak to sail boat to pontoon to high-powered motors that will rev and race ... and plenty of options in between. Grab the sunscreen and hit the waves.
Hit up Zip Yosemite for treetop to treetop thrills at 5,000 feet elevation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Harness up and hold on. Fly through the forest along seven ziplines, mixed with sky bridges and platform towers.
The Idle Hour Winery in Oakhurst is a hidden gem on the Fresno River. Live music energizes the mood while you take in what some have called the best glass of wine they've ever sipped. On top of that, the staff is friendly and super-knowledgeable. A fantastic spot to unwind and grab a gift bottle or few for home.
Take a roll on scenic highway 41 and wrap yourself in jaw-dropping views up and down the line. Ride it all the way into one of the most gorgeous wildernesses in the world: Yosemite National Park.