Date Night at Tenaya: How to Conquer the Grown-up Side of the Lodge in Four Hours Flat

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at Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite
Yours truly at Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite National Park, ready for a sit-down meal where the only meat I’ll cut is… my own.

As you may have guessed by the name of this blog, my hubby and I don’t spend a lot of time away from the kids—together. In fact, it wasn’t until last summer that we finally had our first gown-up overnighter out of the house and away from all 3 children. It’s not to say that we haven’t managed some dates in our 9+ years as parents. We’ve been pretty lucky in that department. Still, when presented with a four-hour block of time to “just do grown-up things” during our last evening at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, we didn’t want to waste a minute of the precious time.

Here’s how we made the most of it and suggest that you might, too.

Time: 5:30  Check the kids into Tenaya Lodge’s 4-hour evening Kids Camp. On the evening’s agenda: dinner, rock climbing, archery, and a showing of “Horton Hears a Who.” With a kiss for each child, we make a swift exit.

Time: 5:40  Check ourselves into Tenaya Lodge’s Ascent Spa for our couples massage. We are issued soft spa robes and slippers, given our lockers and a quick tour of the facilities.

Hello, goregous.
Hello, goregous.

Time: 5:48 Robed, we reconvene in the “group relaxation room,” where couples getting treatment together can relax and sip iced cucumber water or herbal teas side by side. We rest our feet on ottomans and grin like candy-fed toddlers.

Time: 5:57  We are led to our treatment room by our two massage therapists and left to disrobe and slip beneath the  blankets on our heated massage tables. Hubby asks in a whisper if I’m sure we’re supposed to take off the you-know shorts, too? I tell him he needs more spa therapy.

Time: 6:00  Our couples massage begins.

Time: 7:00  Our couples massage ends.

Time: 7:05  We return to ladies’ and men’s locker rooms to enjoy his and hers sauna and steam rooms.

Hello, happy spa robe.
Oh, happy spa robe.

Time: 7:20  Hit the spa showers and discover with an audible eek that a second shower head is hiding somewhere above me. Indulge in the signature Ascent Spa goodies stocked in my shower.

Time: 7:30  Deposit sumptuous spa robe in hamper. Wipe tear from eye.

Time: 7:31  Exit spa and return to our room to dress and dry hair for dinner.

Time: 8:02  Report to Embers, the lodge’s restaurant for diners 13 years and older, for our 8:00 reservation.

A grown-up evening at Tenaya Lodge? Cheers!
A grown-up’s evening at Tenaya Lodge? Cheers!

Time: 8:05  Exchange introductions with our waiter, Tom, who confirms that we are “the couple with children in the Kids Camp” for the evening…”Yes!” He scratches a note, “…until what time?” I grin, “They’re locked up until 9:30!”

Time: 8:20  Raise our matched set of “Red, White and Blueberrytini” cocktails, with a toast to our grown-up evening.

A little appetizer to get us started...
A little appetizer to get us started…

Time: 8:30  Begin Crispy Quail appetizer with shitake mushrooms, eggplant caviar, toasted pumpkin seeds, drizzles of honey mustard glaze…

Time:  Time? We receive our house specialties, the “Filet Oscar.” I vow not to inhale the tower of artichoke cup stuffed with Dungenese crab atop medium rare filet mignon atop bed of mashed Yukon gold potatoes, all drizzled with hollandaise sauce—in one gulp. Oh, no, I will make this meal last because I have—

Time:  What is time, anyway? We raise our glasses of a cabernet recommended by Tom. It is only $1 more than the least expensive cab by the glass, he confides, but is so much better, and we can taste that he is right. We taste it again, and it’s confirmed: Tom is our new best friend.

Time:  Time is for people who have nothing better to do than watch a clock, unlike those of us enjoying tender, medium-rare mignon on an adventure through a well-plated meal. Our new best friend reminds me to try a little of the black volcanic salt from Hawaii on my beef. Of course Tom is right. It’s fantastic.

"Filet Oscar" at Embers restaurant, Tenaya Lodge
“Filet Oscar” at Embers restaurant, Tenaya Lodge

Time:  How DO you get those little blueberries over the rim of the martini glass without making the facial expressions of a horse? Which brings my thoughts and our conversation back to the afternoon’s guided horseback ride I enjoyed with my daughters. “They were so proud…what a day!” we agree. “But let’s not talk about the kids just now…”

Time:  9:10 p.m.  What do you mean we “still have 20 minutes and that’s plenty of time to finish”?! What can this man, our waiter, be thinking? Reminding us of this when my wine glass is still half-filled with Franciscan cabernet?

Time:  9:25  We ask for the check.

Time: 9:31 p.m.  We glissade across the lodge lobby to the concierge room, where our children await, wearing paper crowns decorated with feathers and foam flower stickers. “Mommy! When did you put on THAT dress?!” my daughter asks, amazed. “Oh, just a little while ago actually… Just a very short time ago.”

Thanks so much to Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite and the Ascent Spa for providing this very memorable evening for our whole family. If you’re interested in having a grown-up’s evening of your own at the lodge, enjoying the Ascent Spa at Tenaya, or just taking advantage of the evening Kids Camp program at the lodge recommended for kids 4 to 12 years (included with the current family package offered online), head over to the Tenaya Lodge website ( for details and current offers.

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Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby   facebook   twitter   about the author  

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