Cheetah at the Living Desert

Those of you that have been following the blog know I live in sunny San Diego, which is home to one of the most famous zoos in the world. Having held an annual pass to both of the zoos in San Diego I am pretty spoiled so I don’t venture to other zoos too often. A series of events led to me getting tickets to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Springs so I decided why not? 

How did we get the tickets?

Well, that’s a funny story. A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I were always on the lookout for good deals and opportunities since we were fairly new to traveling. At a local street fair that year we stopped at one of those booths promising the world and signed up for one of those seminars. Fast forward to the seminar and was, of course, a timeshare thing. I am sure timeshares are great for some people, but we aren’t those people.

After figuring out a hundred creative ways to say no thank you to the sales offers, we were given our “free gifts.” Tickets to the Palm Springs Zoo and a wine tasting. Upon coming home I put them somewhere for safekeeping and, being me, totally forgot about them. Fast forward again to a year later. I stumbled upon the tickets to discover the wine tasting had expired but the zoo tickets were still good for another month! 

Palm Springs isn’t that close to me, it’s about a 2 and a half-hour drive. My enthusiasm to go all that way for a small zoo was pretty low. Then I got an email that my freelance job needed me for an event happening in none other than Palm Springs! Well, if I was going to be in the area anyway I may as well check it out! 

By even more coincidence, my dad would be visiting that week before the event I was working. So the perfect plan ensued. 

My dad would come to hang out with me in San Diego for a few days. Then we would go to Palm Springs a day early and check out the zoo. Talk about last minute, we used the tickets the day before they were set to expire 😂.  

About The Living Desert

Like many zoos, The Living desert is a nonprofit zoo dedicated to conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs and education. The zoo was established in 1970. As tourism spiked and resorts moved some trustees of the Palm Springs Desert museum grew concerned about how it would impact the local environment. The result was this wonderful nature reserve, garden and zoo. 

There is plenty to do here. You can feed a giraffe, connect with a camel, spend some quality time with butterflies and hummingbirds, take a ride on the endangered species carousel, book a private tour or just take a hike around the beautiful grounds. 

Our visit

We went at the beginning of May and it was still really hot. That was probably my least favorite part of the visit. It was well into the 90s, we drank so much water and felt like we spent more time jumping from shady spot to shady spot than fully taking in the surroundings. Thank being said we actually really enjoyed our visit. 

This isn’t a large zoo, but it’s laid out very nice and they have a great variety of animals that mostly have generous enclosures and a good amount of space. One thing I really enjoyed is that since this is also considered a garden all the spaces between enclosures were also pretty and well-manicured. It made the animals feel more in their elements and less like a traditional zoo. 

We found sleepy kitties, all sorts of reptiles, a family of giraffes, a feisty kookaburra and even spotted the cheetah. 

We spent about 3 hours here, had it not been so hot we probably would have spent a couple more walking around but despite that, we were still able to see the majority of what the zoo has to offer. I don’t think you would need more than a day to explore. 

Visitor information

Hours for the Palm Springs Living Desert Zoo

Open Daily October 1 – May 31 – 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (closed Christmas day) 

Open Daily June 1 – September 30 – 7:00 am to 1:30 pm






How to Get There

47900 Portola Ave
Palm Desert, CA 9226

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