Begin at the Valley Visitor Center, where you can watch the documentary Spirit of Yosemite (which inexplicably shows no animals other than one deer). A minute's stroll from there is the Indian village of Ahwahneechee, which recalls American Indian life circa 1870. Take another 20 minutes to see the Yosemite Museum. Then, hop aboard the free shuttle to Yosemite Falls and hike the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail to the base of the falls. Then proceed via shuttle or a 20-minute walk to lunch at Yosemite Lodge.

Next choose one of three things: leisurely exploring Curry Village —perhaps going for a swim or ice skating, shopping, renting a bike, or having a beer on the deck; checking out family-friendly Happy Isles Nature Center and the adjacent nature trail; or hiking up the Mist Trail to the Vernal Fall footbridge to admire the view.

Hop back on the shuttle, then disembark at the Ahwahnee Hotel. Step into the Great Lounge, which has a magnificent fireplace and Indian artwork, and sneak a peek into the Dining Room, if you're up for a splurge. Get back on the shuttle, and head to Yosemite Village, where you can grab some food. Get back in your car and drive to the El Capitan picnic area and enjoy an outdoor evening meal. At this time of day, "El Cap" should be sun-splashed. (You will have gotten several good looks at world-famous Half Dome throughout the day.) Any sunlight left? If so, continue driving on around to see Bridalveil Fall.