We’ve discovered a gem in the Central Valley of California and we want every family to know about it –
The El Capitan Hotel in Merced is a wonderful retreat for families exploring Yosemite, couples needing a getaway, or just a relaxing staycation for locals.
The El Capitan is an affordable luxury boutique hotel that’s part of the Hyatt Joie de Vivre collection.
The property has an upscale feel and the service is attentive, but it also has an overall relaxed vibe that made us feel comfortable to have the kids there.
We stayed in a Junior Suite with a King Bed and a couch with a pull-out bed, which was perfect for our family, and the boys were SO thrilled that there was a little teepee set up for them to play in!
We loved having a sitting area and a little dining/work space,
and the bathroom was roomy with a large shower.
But one of our favorite features of the room was the Chromecast enabled TV which allowed us to log into our streaming services, such as Netflix, and pick up on our shows from home.
All of the staff that we encountered were super friendly and helpful and our kids felt like VIP’s from all the attention!
Downstairs, the hotel has a lovely, comfortable lounge area with a few games that we enjoyed playing.
There are two restaurants at El Capitan Hotel, with a third set to open soon.
We ate dinner one night in the casually sophisticated outdoor Courtyard.
The menu consists of shareable gourmet small plates, so it was fun to try a lot of the different dishes, including crab cakes, duck fat fries, guacamole with chips and fried cauliflower.
For breakfast, there’s Native Son – a casual cafe that’s also open for lunch and dinner.
In addition, just a few doors down from the hotel is another dining option – The Mainzer – which is ultra kid-friendly.
The Mainzer is a theater that’s been converted into a cool place to eat, drink and play.
They have a casual menu with delicious burgers and fried chicken, as well as a kids’ menu with their favorites: burgers, chicken tenders, pizza and quesadillas, and some delicious milkshakes!
The Mainzer also has free games to play, including board games that can be played at your table while you eat.
We had so much fun hanging out there!
The El Capitan Hotel is an urban oasis, but it also makes a great base camp for visiting Yosemite.
The drive from Merced into Yosemite is the most pleasant route (not nearly as winding as the road from Fresno) so you can easily go in to the park and back to the hotel in a day.
Getting lodging reservations in Yosemite is very hard and the accommodations can be overpriced, so we love the idea of keeping it simple and enjoying luxury after a day outdoors!
Besides visiting Yosemite, there are a few other fun family activities in the area:
The Merced National Wildlife Refuge allows you to observe many species of birds and animals up close from your car while you drive around the auto loop, or you can hike some of the trails.
Our whole family really enjoyed this unique experience!
You can also visit Castle Air Museum in Atwater – just a short drive from the hotel – and see a huge collection of aircraft up close, including an Air Force One!
And if you happen to be visiting in October, as we were, you can spend a fun day at the Hunter Farms Pumpkin Patch enjoying the many rides and attractions!
Throughout our whole stay at the El Capitan Hotel, the kids kept asking over and over “Can we stay here more often??”
We totally agreed that this will be a new tradition for our family, but we are also dreaming of some adults only getaways here!
Find more information and book your stay on the El Capitan Hotel website.