Getting away from it all at San Jose’s slice of Yosemite

For years, friends have been telling me about San Jose Family Camp, a 40-acre campground on the Tuolumne River near Yosemite National Park that’s been operated by the city since 1968. Somehow I missed going to the camp myself growing up, but people suggested it as a great place to take our kids during the summer doldrums.

We loaded up our Subaru Forester and trekked up there for three nights earlier this week, and I can confirm it was a great place for kids, especially those around 8 to 10 years old like ours. But what I didn’t realize going in was how relaxing it would be for adults to step into a world that is literally last century.

And that’s because Family Camp at Yosemite, as it’s officially known, is the perfect antidote to our hyperfast, tech-driven life in Silicon Valley. There are 65 wood-framed tents and miles of trails, but barely any cell service and no wi-fi.

You can hike to Rainbow Pools, but you can’t get sucked into a social media black hole. Instead of checking Twitter, we went to a campfire. Catching up on emails was replaced by catching up on my summer reading. By the third day, I had even stopped carrying my phone around.

The camp is open each year from June to August, and it’s open to anyone — though San Jose residents get a discount on the nightly rate, which ranges from $60 to $90 per person per night, depending on age and whether you stay over a weekend, plus camp maintenance fees. The rates include three meals a day (including vegetarian options), served cafeteria-style in a dining hall that’s right out of a 1980s teen summer camp movie. You can get more details — and reserve spots for this summer still — at www.sanjoseca.gov/prns/familycamp.

A group of hikers, including brewers from Camino, Uproar and Clandestinebreweries in San Jose, explore the salt ponds near Alviso with Beers MadeBy Walking on May 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy Beers Made by Walking) 

THESE BREWS WERE MADE BY WALKING: Three San Jose breweries are taking the idea of “local” craft beer to a new level with a trio of beers inspired by the plants seen on a nature hike in San Jose in May.

“Each beer is a drinkable landscape portrait of the area we hike in,” said Eric Steen, who founded the program Beers Made By Walking. He’s worked with more than 200 breweries and took a group that included brewers from Camino, Clandestine and Uproar on a hike to the salt ponds at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Alviso.

“We’ve never had a hike in a wetlands area, so this was a real treat. We identified Pickleweed, mustard, invasive grasses, New Zealand spinach, salt bush and other plants,” he said.

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