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Groveland, Calif., is the kind of small town that, if you blink, you might miss.
Located in Tuolumne County, which is composed in part of the Stanislaus National Forest and borders Yosemite National Park, Groveland is home to about 600 residents. But it’s a big gateway to the vast array of activities that await in the Sunshine State’s popular Yosemite region.
Watersports are a favored pursuit in the area in summertime, so last July, I convinced my best friend to try whitewater rafting Class IV rapids with adventure operator OARS on the Tuolumne River. And so, the night before our intrepid rafting tour de force, we found ourselves at Groveland Hotel, after a long drive up from Los Angeles.
We were welcomed by a friendly concierge who pointed us to our rooms and answered my (many) questions about the best spots in the small town for a bite. She encouraged us to take advantage of Groveland Hotel’s Provisions Taproom & Bourbon Bar, located just off the property’s entrance, which serves craft beer, hard cider and prosecco on draft; a large selection of local wines; additional craft beer, mead and cider in cans; and — as the name indicates — some 30 bourbons, whiskeys and scotches.
The indoor space, which is a mid-1800s adobe taproom that has been renovated and restored with the original hardwood floors and pressed tin walls, opens to a spacious, tiered outdoor patio decorated with twinkle lights and surrounded by foliage. After dinner, my friend and I enjoyed draft prosecco on the patio during sunset, which was quiet save for the sound of just one or two other guests enjoying their libations. While the hotel doesn’t have its own restaurant, the taproom serves small bites including charcuterie and cheese boards, pickles made in house and cheese paninis. Additionally, the Provisions Store inside the taproom offers snacks, beverages and gift items. On Thursdays in the summer, visitors can enjoy live music (with a cover charge).
Built in 1849 in the Monterey Adobe architectural style popular at the time, Groveland Hotel was originally a trading post. It has since lived many lives: a gambling house, a saloon, a ranger station, business ofﬁces and a Greyhound bus stop. During the Gold Rush, it was known as “the best house on the hill.”
Today, it’s a cozy gem, with California ranch-style rooms that evoke its storied history. Our Classic Queen room was simple, but perfect for a one-night stay, as most of our time would be spent in the great outdoors. Rooms offer modern amenities such as daily housekeeping, complimentary Wi-Fi access, satellite television, an in-room Keurig coffeemaker and hairdryers. On-site parking is free, and there’s even a complimentary Tesla charging station.
(It’s worth noting that guestrooms are small, and the doors and walls — as is the case in many old structures — aren’t exactly soundproof. However, during our stay, we heard nary a peep after 9 p.m.)
Larger accommodation categories include Deluxe Rooms; Grand Suites that can accommodate up to five guests; and pet-friendly rooms. There are also three Unique Rooms: the Adobe Suite, Lyle’s Room, and Room 107. The new Adobe Suite features a 9-foot original French door from the hotel’s founding in 1849 and a bathroom with river-rock flooring and a waterfall shower head.
Lyle’s Room offers a different flavor of history — a ghost. The guestroom can host two occupants in addition to Lyle, a gold-mining ghost who has lived in the hotel for the last century. Room 107, meanwhile, is great for families, as it holds a custom-built queen bunk bed.
While I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Lyle, I delighted in the property’s lively nods to the past and found it an irresistibly charming waystation on the journey to enjoy Yosemite’s splendors.
The DetailsGroveland Hotelwww.groveland.com
Visit Tuolumne Countywww.visittuolumne.com