One giant plus of living in Fresno is that it is 90 minutes or so from three national parks. The caveat, however, is that one needs to make the time to go, which I suppose is typical for just about any place. I’m sure plenty of New Yorkers rarely hang out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, though I would do so on a weekly basis. Then again, this Bay Area native didn’t ride one of those deliciously cheesy and historic cable cars in San Francisco till I was in my mid-20s.

Hence it was finally time to blow off work, play some hooky and take the dog to Yosemite National Park for the day. The drive from anywhere in the San Joaquin Valley is sublime. Farms give way to hills, which eventually transition into the spectacular Sierra Nevadas.

I only had a day to go, so I ran with the touristy plan and drove around Yosemite Valley. Visiting on a weekday during the fall is the way to go. First of all, even though parking can be dicey here and there, Yosemite is still far easier to visit this time of year than during the peak summer season. Winter is spectacular, but of course there is the risk of icy road conditions for the untested driver.

You cannot go wrong with any of the sites: Bridal Veil Falls, the two-tiered Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake and of course the iconic El Capitan and Half Dome. The former Ahwahnee Hotel (it’s been rebranded over a legal dispute, not that the locals and old-timers care) is always worth a visit as this 19th century gem is one of the few hotel properties within a national park’s boundaries.

Bring plenty of water, snacks and a charger if you need a break from nature: yes Pokemon Go fans, there are plenty of Pokestops in Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Village has a decent café; the food is not not memorable, but the staff is friendly and it’s lovely to sit outside. Keep your dog on a leash and don’t venture where the signs say “No Pets” for obvious reasons. Yosemite is one of the key reasons to travel to California; and I’m partial to coming in the fall, as the seasonal colors are fairly spectacular for the west coast.

Image credits: Leon Kaye

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

Bridal Veil falls offers glimpses of fall colors

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

El Capitan is always majestic

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

Half Dome is eerily majestic

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

The 20 minute walk around Mirror Lake is well worth the visit

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

The park is pet friendly; just please respect the ground rules

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

Autumn hues beckon

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

One of many meadows that soothe the soul

Yosemite, Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, National Park Service, Leon Kaye, travel

Bridal Veil falls from a distance

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.