Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Living Desert, Palm Desert, California

The Living Desert is a zoo in Palm Desert, just a few miles south of Palm Springs. They have many animal exhibits of desert animals, many which are rescued and/or endangered animals, as well as botanical gardens which represent deserts from around the world. Every December, The Living Desert hosts the WildLights Holiday Festival which is a festival of beautiful holiday lights throughout the front part of the zoo, food including make your own s'mores over open fires, Santa Claus, music, and a nocturnal animal show at 6:30pm. We went to the WildLights Festival ($7.75/adult, however we had complimentary tickets from someone we met at the campground) and although enjoyed it, we were glad we didn't pay $15.50 for the experience - it was more geared towards families with children. There were two very interesting things, though - they have a huge 1:22.5 inch scale Model Train Display which was quite detailed with trains running through more than 3000 feet of track past a variety of destinations, and just outside the entrance to The Living Desert was a telescope which was positioned on the moon - it was so powerful, we could see the craters on the half-moon. The astronomer with the telescope explained to us that when the moon is half-full, it's the best time to see the craters.

Prior to our visit to The Living Desert, we had dinner at Restaurant Guillermo, recommended to us by a very informative woman we met at the Palm Desert Visitors Center. Well, the restaurant started with potential - the waiters were very nice and the decor equally nice, but the food was just average to good, and as the waiters were all focused on a large party coming-in after us, the service lacked. Not sure if we just hit the restaurant on a bad night, or it is normally just so-so. We also strolled around the El Paseo Shopping District, which is the Rodeo Drive of Palm Desert, with art galleries, restaurants and high-end shops such as Gucci. Unfortunately, we got here when the stores were closing - we thought they'd be open late as it is the holiday season, but they all closed at 6pm on a Saturday night in December - go figure!

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