Welcome to Oakhurst, California, a charming mountain town nestled in the heart of the picturesque Sierra Nevada range, just minutes away from the majestic Yosemite National Park. Oakhurst, CA is the ideal base for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers seeking a blend of adventure and relaxation. Whether you’re looking to stay in Oakhurst for your stay in Yosemite, seeking to try some of the wines in Madera County, or looking for a fun lake adventure, this vibrant town has something for everyone. Discover the best things to do in Oakhurst, CA!
I partnered with Visit Yosemite | Madera County who hosted me on this trip. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click my link, I make a small percentage (at no extra cost to you). This helps me keep the travel blog running.
The Oakhurst, CA Area and Beyond
Oakhurst, California is Yosemite’s gateway city, located about 16 miles from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. It is also adjacent to Ahwahnee, Coarsegold, Bass Lake, and more.
Nestled amidst the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains, Oakhurst, California, is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of tranquility and adventure. With its close proximity to Yosemite National Park, Oakhurst serves as an excellent base for exploring the park’s natural wonders, including towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking hiking trails. Beyond its natural beauty, Oakhurst boasts a charming small-town atmosphere, with friendly locals, cozy accommodations, and a range of dining options. Whether you’re seeking outdoor excursions, cultural experiences, or simply a peaceful getaway, Oakhurst provides an idyllic setting for a memorable stay.
Bass Lake, Oakhurst’s Neighbor
Bass Lake is a haven for those who want to get out on the water, enjoy beautiful scenery, and spot wildlife. With its crystal-clear waters and picturesque views, Bass Lake offers a wide array of recreational activities from boating and fishing to swimming and kayaking. And there is plenty to do on land such as hiking and biking.
Best Things to Do in Oakhurst, CA
Oakhurst and the surrounding area offer a bit of everything for visitors. Here are the best things to do in and around the Oakhurst, Madera County area.
Ride the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad
Did you know you can ride a steam train through the forest just minutes outside Yosemite National Park? The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad takes you on a scenic train ride through the Sierra National Forest. It’s located in Fish Camp, Madera County, only 4 miles from Yosemite National Park’s South Entrance.
It’s open daily from April to October and there are a variety of different experiences that anyone can enjoy. The Yosemite Jazz Train is where you can enjoy a ride to an intimate “unplugged” outdoor musical performance from various jazz musicians. The Moonlight Special includes dinner, a train ride, and live music. These two are perfect for adults! And if you’re traveling with children opt for “The Logger” Train Ride, a one-hour family-friendly ride around the forest. And well-behaved dogs on leash ride for free!
Madera Wine Trail
Did you know that Madera County is one of the oldest grape-growing regions in America? Enjoy sipping award-winning wines along the Madera Wine Trail, just south of Yosemite National Park.
You can expect knowledgeable hosts and the tasting rooms are still small enough that you can visit with the winemakers themselves. Tastings at the wineries vary in price however are some of the most affordable in all of California so if you love California wines be sure to add a tasting room or two to your itinerary.
The Madera Wine Trail includes:
San Joaquin Winery (open every day)
Papagni Winery (open Sat & Sun)
Quady Winery (open Wed-Sat, book tasting online)
Toca Madera Winery (open Sat & Sun, reservation needed for tasting)
Westbrook Wine Farm Vineyard and Winery (by appointment only)
Idle Hour Winery and Kitchen (open every day)
Birdstone Winery (open Fri-Sun)
Fäsi Estate Winery (open every day)
Spirits Tasting at Oakhurst Spirits
Enjoy a spirits tasting at Oakhurst Spirits where you can sample small batch whiskey, whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, agave, and bourbon or opt for a cocktail. Opened in 2017, Oakhurst Spirits has been named one of the Top 25 Best Distilleries in California by TravelPulse.com!
Owner Mike Benbrook brought the distillery from San Diego and it has been a top must-do in the area ever since! Tastings are available Friday through Sunday and don’t forget to check out the art in The Gallery at Oakhurst Spirits.
Enjoy the Beauty of Bass Lake
From fishing, boating, and kayaking, to hiking and biking Bass Lake is a haven for those who enjoy being outdoors! You can rent boats, kayaks, and more at various spots throughout the lake. And if you love kayaking be sure to rent your kayak from The Forks Resort. Not only can you rent kayaks by the hour (or even the full day) you can stay in one of their cabins for a lakeside getaway, purchase fishing gear, grab a drink, and enjoy a burger and delicious milkshake.
The Forks Resort, located on Bass Lake, in the Sierra National Forest, is only 14 miles from the south entrance to Yosemite National Park making it a fun option to add to your Yosemite itinerary.
Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park
If you’re looking for dog-friendly trails in a beautiful nature park then check out Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park. It serves as a natural oak habitat resource for recreation and education for Madera County and the surrounding counties and is free to enter. With seven miles of dog-friendly pedestrian trails, this park is a great option to hike with your dog.
Please note: Dogs must be kept leashed at all times, per the Madera County ordinance.
Visit Yosemite National Park
From epic waterfalls, amazing hikes, scenic views, and so much more a trip to Oakhurst isn’t fully complete without a visit to Yosemite National Park. From Oakhurst to Yosemite South Entrance is only 16 miles, and from Oakhurst to Yosemite Valley is 44 miles. There is plenty to do just passed the Yosemite South Entrance such as Mariposa Grove and if you travel a bit further you can check out the Wawona area before taking in the views at Tunnel View.
Yosemite National Park boasts a diverse selection of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels, offering something for everyone from casual nature walkers to seasoned adventurers. Whether you prefer leisurely walks along paved paths or challenging treks to towering peaks, check out the Yosemite Area Hiking Map!
You can stop by the Visit Yosemite | Madera Country Visitor Center in Oakhurst for a free physical copy, along with a Visitor Guide for all of the tips, tricks, itineraries, restaurants, and events in Madera County.
Oakhurst and Yosemite National Park Tips
Getting around Oakhurst is easy. Most of the restaurants and businesses are located off Highway 41. Most visitors travel by car however you can also take the FREE Oakhurst Trolley which runs Friday – Sunday during the summer season and during special events and holiday weekends.
Yosemite Public Transportation
If you’re traveling without a car you can also opt to rent a bike at Pedal Forward or Yosemite Valley Bikes. And there is also a bus, YARTS with a couple of stops in Oakhurst that will take you to various stops inside Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park also offers a free shuttle service with various routes in different parts of the park. Be sure to check the site before planning your trip as many of the routes are seasonal. Even if you’re driving into the park you can opt to park (Curry Village is one of the bigger parking lots) and take the free shuttle to various points of interest and trailheads.
Food and snacks
If you’re heading to Yosemite National Park and want to bring food and/or snacks be sure to stock up in Oakhurst. There are grocery stores including Vons where you can purchase pre-packaged meals, grab snacks, stock your cooler with ice, etc. There’s also a Deli Delicious in town if you fancy a fresh and tasty sandwich.
Top Off on Fuel Before Entering Yosemite National Park
Be sure to top off on fuel before heading into the park. You can easily drive around 100 miles from the Oakhurst area to and around the park and back. There are plenty of gas stations in town
Where to Eat
Hungry in Oakhurst? Here are some of the best places for food in Oakhurst:
South Gate Brewing Company – Best Dinner in Oakhurst
Enjoy dinner at South Gate Brewing Company. Their ribeye is highly recommended, and you have to try the mac and cheese made with their in-house beer cheese while sampling the craft beer! There are no reservations at South Gate Brewing Company so expect a wait at peak dining hours, it’s worth the wait!
Idle Hour Winery and Kitchen – For Brunch, Wine, and Live Music
Idle Hour Winery and Kitchen is the perfect option for a great brunch before heading into the park. You can sample wines and on select Sundays enjoy live music.
Deli Delicious – Best to Take to the Park
Deli Delicious is a great option if you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch or something to take into the park and enjoy later. Grab a cooler and load your sandwiches to have lunch at one of the picnic areas or on your drive around the area.
Round Table Pizza – Dinner To-Go
If you’re looking for something to pick up and take to your hotel then Round Table Pizza is for you. Order ahead or drop in and enjoy a beer while you wait for your pizza. You can also dine in!
Where to Stay
There are plenty of accommodation options in and around the Oakhurst area. Here are some of the best options:
Yosemite Southgate Hotel and Suites
Located just 14 Miles from Yosemite’s Southgate Entrance, the Yosemite Southgate Hotel is clean, comfy, and spacious and offers a complimentary hot continental breakfast daily. There’s also a steam and a dry heat sauna and a seasonal pool and spa to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. This is a great option for couples, a small group of friends, and families.
Sierra Meadows in Ahwahnee
If you’re looking for cabin-like accommodations at an affordable price then opt for a stay at Sierra Meadows. Spend your days wandering around the Oakhurst area and Yosemite National Park and your nights relaxing in your private cabin nestled in the Sierra Foothills. Sierra Meadows is located just 20 miles from the South Gate to the park and makes for a great home base to explore the area.
There’s also a pool open in the summertime and bikes are available to rent at no extra charge.
I hope this list of “things to do in Oakhurst, CA” helps you during your next trip to Yosemite.
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