Headed straight to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, which is dedicated to preserving a portion of the Colorado Desert in its natural state. I got a behind-the-scenes shuttle tour of the zoo’s grounds. My time there included many highlights – feeding Pono the giraffe carrots while he posed for pictures (even managed a selfie, which, given our height differences, was quite the achievement), watching Clyde the camel engage in his favorite activity – painting!, and seeing some lovely butterflies at the Winged Wonders! Butterfly Exhibit. Also saw Mexican wolves (three, and they appeared to be completing their morning laps) as well as my first peccary. Finished off with the Cheetah Run, an event that highlights the “Year of the Cheetah” and The Living Desert's efforts to help preserve this endangered species.
Lunch followed at Tommy Bahama Café on El Paseo. I had no clue Tommy Bahama began as a restaurant before the clothing line took off and became even more famous than the original offering. Another fun fact - Hotel Paseo, a $26 million Marriott-branded property (scheduled to open in September 2017) is just opposite this block on El Paseo. The hotel, which will be a Marriott Autograph Collection property, will feature 150 rooms and will be the El Paseo shopping district’s first hotel. ALSO, room #150 in the hotel will be a fully pimped out air streamer OMG with its own garden – get in line to reserve this one!
What I missed out on today was to hike Palm Desert’s nearby and popular Cross Trail, a moderate three-mile round trip hike. Am hoping to add this to my list for when I visit next.
Ended the evening watching the Los Angeles Ballet perform The Nutcracker at the McCallum Theatre - a 1,127-seat performing arts venue that consistently ranks as one of the top 50 theaters of its size in ticket sales. (Special thanks for the champagne reception as we walked in!) The theatre opened in 1988 with an all-star tribute to Bob Hope. I hear they have this 100 days, 100 shows season beginning of the year, which helps with their performance rates. Their show calendar for the entire season is up on their site and there are some great performances lined up too.