Location: 24 miles (38 km) from Yosemite entrance; 41 miles (66 km) from Yosemite Valley; via Highway 120 (map)
Population 1,500; Elevation 2,844 feet (860 meters)
Groveland is modest by most standards, but it's still the largest town between Sonora and Yosemite's Big Oak Flat (northwest) entrance, and the last place you'll find a bigger-than-a-quickie-mart market before the one in Yosemite Village. There are half a dozen small inns and B&Bs tucked away in Groveland, including two notable antique hotels on the main street: the Groveland Hotel, constructed in 1849, and the Hotel Charlotte. Both are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Iron Door Saloon dates from 1852.
Pro: It's a pretty, quiet, & eminently strollable town with a short but funky antique main-street district and its very own museum.
Con: Groveland may look innocent, but it's actually living under an assumed name to cover up a dark past: it was originally called "Garrote," after a site near the Hotel Charlotte where two men, accused of stealing gold dust, were hanged from a large oak. PR-minded residents changed the town's name in the 1870's. Another lynching reputedly took place a few miles outside town, and that site became known as Second Garrote, a name that can still be seen on Google Maps (try clicking on the map links for the Inn at Sugar Pine Ranch or the Yosemite Pines RV Resort). If you've hung on through this entire paragraph, as appears to be the case, you might be interested in this account of Groveland's history.
Shopping: You can get the basics here at the Main Street Market and the Groveland Pharmacy, both on the main street (Highway 120). The Mountain Sage is nominally a nursery, but also hosts an art gallery and sells books & maps of local interest and outdoors clothing & equipment.
Coffee Emergencies: The Mountain Sage serves fair-trade organic coffee. The Firefall also serves gourmet coffee, and between it and the Iron Door Saloon next door, is likely to be able to accomodate whatever mood you're in.
ATM Machines: Yosemite Bank and the Pacific State Bank, both along Highway 120 near the south end of town, have branches with ATM's. There's also a machine inside the Iron Door.
Medical Help: The Groveland Medical Clinic is open from 9 to 5. Outside those hours, the local ambulance service can give you a lift to the emergency room in Sonora, roughly 25 miles (40 km) away.
Entertainment: The Groveland Hotel converts its patio into a stage and hosts outdoor concerts throughout the summer. The Iron Door Saloon has live bands on weekend nights and karaoke on Thursday nights. The Hotel Charlotte hosts daily wine tastings.
The Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum houses a variety of exhibits on topics ranging from logging and mining to local flora and fauna. There's a skate park at the north end of town, although your own kids will undoubtedly want to head next door to the library instead. The Pine Mountain Lake country club, just outside town but not on the main highway, allows public access to its golf course and stables. For a schedule of events in the Groveland area, see the Hotel Charlotte's regional calendar.
Five individually decorated guest rooms with private baths; rates from $140 - $180 (see rates page); three rooms include fireplaces and jacuzzi baths; two rooms have private decks
Built in 1849; on the National Register of Historic Places & designated a California Cultural Landmark; 17 individually decorated guest rooms; onsite restaurant is a recipient of the Wine Spectator award of excellence; all rooms have private baths, free wireless Internet, and coffee grinders/brewers; free breakfast for guests; rates from $145 - $350
Three sizes of cabin sleeping 2, 4, or 6 people, with rates from $80 - $100; mobile homes sleeping from 2 - 16 people with rates from $80 - $225; tents furnished with air mattresses & bedding for $40; bring-your-own-tent campsites for $25
Built in 1921 and on the National Register of Historic Places; 10 individually decorated guest rooms; restaurant onsite; free breakfast for guests; daily wine tasting; all rooms have private baths, Dish TV, central air; free Internet; $130 - $225 (see rates page)
Four 1-bedroom cabins, one 2-bedroom cabin, and three additional guest rooms; 62-acre property with pool and hiking trails, bordering Stanislaus National Forest; rates from $145 - $225
Cabins, RV sites, tent sites, and yurts; wide variety of onsite entertainment options, including swimming pool, volleyball court, playground, petting zoo, hayrides, gold-panning lessons, and mine tours; Cabins sleep from 4 - 8 (depending on floor plan) and include kitchens; yurts sleep 5 and include television, refrigerator, and microwave (but no plumbing); $16 - $350 (see rates page)