The Living Desert — including a zoo, a rescue and treatment facility, and botanical gardens, is an educational and entertainment grounds all in one — and a true must-see. Its mission and objectives are inspiring, and include preserving a portion of the Colorado Desert and building up of populations of certain endangered species of flora and fauna.
One could spend hours strolling the desert gardens, but the kids will likely be keener to meet the animals. We especially enjoyed seeing the jaguar, mountain lion, bobcats, zebras and golden eagle, and my daughter was thrilled to ride atop a bighorn sheep on the Endangered Species Carousel and groom goats and sheep in the petting corral. Camel rides are available October through May.
Parents of toddlers beware that, if your wanderer isn’t yet clear about the kinds of things that are and aren’t okay to touch (or taste!), you’ll need to be extra vigilant here. Innumerable spiny cacti and other plants with thorns reside here.