Ordered in breakfast today which is always fun. I think in-room service is such a lost luxury and wish more folks would enable that then charge additional for it to be a room service.
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.
What I did not get to do was visit the jaguars or enjoy the facility’s California plein air art collection, which features 49 Impressionist-style landscape paintings by 22 artists that were painted between 1900 and the late 1930s. I guess I will have to return! This could be a whole day’s worth of walking around especially if you decided to do more of the events and activities offered here. Do check the calendar in advance for some fun ones.
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!
While dining there, and walking along the shops on El Paseo, you will notice art installations and sculptures along the center divide. This is part of The El Paseo Invitational Art Exhibition and Palm Desert’s larger public art program. The impressive mile-long shopping district is known as the "Rodeo Drive of the Desert," and includes more than 250 shops, restaurants, art galleries and venues offering everything you could ask for. You can find locally owned boutiques and branded showrooms – a healthy mix catering to many tastes and preferences. Another fun fact – Yellow courtesy carts are available along this stretch, to drive you from one location to another, or from a store to the parking garage. I think that’s a welcome gesture when you have too many bags from that huge Christmas shopping list!
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.
Dinner at Piero’s Pizza Vino was a lovely private party event with a buffet style service of a couple of their bestsellers. Going by the name of the restaurant, I should probably be raving about their pizza but, in fact, I really enjoyed the baked chicken and potatoes combo, and better yet was their squash blossom appetizer, which I was really hoping they would share the recipe for. It’s the first time I have eaten squash blossoms ever, so it was an interesting culinary experience at the unlikeliest of places. Oh and do not scrimp on dessert here – they have a house-made cheesecake that’s light and fluffy – nothing like the dense cheesecakes more commonly found. I hear owners Piero and Sheri Pierattoni have some family recipes they prepare here for guests. And there are guests aplenty. Even for a weeknight, the place was swarming with diners.
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.
*Hosted at this destination as a member of the media/guest of Visit Palm Desert. All opinions my own*