by Tamara Rice of The Rice Paper
Spring in Southern California is the perfect time to visit the Living Desert in Palm Desert, just a stone’s throw from Palm Springs. However, if I’ve learned anything at all from my frequent trips to this outdoor garden and zoo, it’s that if you can’t lug around a bottle of water with you, you probably shouldn’t bother with this one. Even when it’s not hot, it’s still dry.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to visit. If you love desert plants, birds and animals, you’ll like what the Living Desert has to offer–including a large model train, run by a friendly group of retirees in old-fashioned conductor uniforms. (What model trains climbing the Swiss Alps have to do with the desert, I’ll never know, but it works and kids love it.)
Admission is never more than $12 per person (depending on your age and the time of year that you go), and kids under 3 can go for free, which makes it a fairly good deal.
My only complaint is that the park’s greatest attraction is also its most elusive attraction: the beautiful giraffes. I have made my kids stand quietly for fifteen minutes at a time (a long time when you are 7 years old) and still we’ve barely had more than a peek at them over the years. These shy creatures tend to stay on the other side of their massive hill, much to my children’s chagrin.
Still, it’s less expensive than most other Southern California zoos, and for younger kids (and grown ups) still fascinated by trains, lizards, cacti and rabbits, it is just as much fun.