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elana andersen

Palm Springs: Seeing Green in Action

Ecotourism thrives in the desert

communities of

Southern California

Hiking tours show how the native Cahuilla people revered the natural environment.


able practices that include the introduc-

Community list of action steps is widely

responsible stewards of the environment

tion of green industries and greening

distributed at area stores, visitor centers

has moved the City of Palm Springs to

technologies. The nation's largest turbine

and online.

adopt a new plan with focused action di-

wind farm is at the west end of the

rected at becoming a totally sustainable

Coachella Valley, and agricultural and


community. The plan’s vision defines

recreation businesses, including many

Elite Land Tours offers a series of tours

programs and projects that fall under the

golf courses, are participating in water-

that focuses on various aspects of eco-

privy of city government, such as reduc-

shed projects that feed back into the nat-

businesses and sustainable practices.

ing the city's use of water by 50 percent

ural underground reservoirs. The

“Going Green,” for example, visits one

and energy by 20 percent within four

adoption of traditional Native American

of the largest lavender farms in the U.S.,

years. It also provides tools and incen-

philosophies and practices with regard to

where visitors learn about the attributes

tives for local residents, businesses,

protecting natural sustainable habitats is

of Certified Organic farming. The tour

tourism and recreation entities, and edu-

also widely promoted.

continues to a managed nature sanctuary

cational institutions to achieve ambitious

Palm Springs has kicked off a public

green initiatives and become a zero-waste

awareness program designed to inform

other indigenous wildlife survive in the


visitors and residents about ways to be

harsh desert terrain. “Ultimate Power

green in their personal lives and in the

Trip” travels through the fields of a wind

community. Its Pathways to a Sustainable

farm and offers an up-close view of the

Throughout the desert region other communities are participating in sustain26 February 2009

where coyote, bobcat, bears, deer and

on the side

The Best of Palm Springs




Now in its 18th season, this dance, song and comedy revue

Soar to the heights of Chino Canyon via the world’s largest

is packed with show-stopping entertainment. The three-

rotating tramcar and be awed by the expansive views and

hour, vaudeville-style extravaganza showcases music and

scenic wonders of the Coachella Valley. From the Valley

dance from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s and is performed by a

Station to the Mountain Station (at 8,516 feet), the ascent

renowned company of high-stepping Long Legged Lovelies

of Mt. San Jacinto takes about 10 minutes. Recreation at

and Follies Gentlemen, plus a lineup of celebrated guest

the top ranges from playing in the winter snow to hiking

stars and special acts. What sets the Follies apart from other

wilderness trails in summer. Facilities include several look-

shows is that its company is made up of seasoned Broad-

out stations, the Peaks dining room and casual Pines Cafe,

way-to-Hollywood performers who just happen to range in

and the Lookout Lounge, which offers a full bar service.

age from 55 to 80+ years. The Follies’ 10-shows-a-week

There are gift shops at both the Valley and Mountain sta-

season runs from October through May. November and De-

tions. [888-515-8726, groups 760-325-1449,

cember are reserved for the Follies Yuletide production with]

a cast of Candy Cane Girls, a distaff Santa and her admirers, strolling bands of carolers, dancing penguins and a


cheery Hanukkah bear. Add spectacular sets, glittery cos-

Palm Springs’ Palm Canyon Drive, the city’s main prome-

tumes and dazzling special effects to ensure a lively way for

nade, is lined with shops and boutiques, art galleries, an-

your group to celebrate the end of the year. [Box office,

tique stores, and a diverse collection of eateries, many

760-327-0225; groups, 800-967-9997;]

offering outdoor dining. It is also home to the historic Plaza

Palm Springs Follies

Theater and the Fabulous Palm Spring Follies, Palm Springs Walk of Stars and Palm Springs Desert Museum with its well-stocked museum store. Every Thursday the drive is transformed into Villagefest, a pedestrian bazaar with more than 200 arts and craft vendors, food carts, live music and other entertainment. [760-322-7799,] Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo, an upscale shopping street, has 300-plus stores, art galleries and restaurants. Tucked between the exclusive boutiques are shops that offer a surprising number of affordable treasures. []. Other shopping centers in the neighborhood include Westfield Shoppingtown, One Eleven Town Center and Desert Crossing Shopping Center. The River at Rancho Mirage is a high-end, 30-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment center. [760341-2711,] Outlet shopping is located in Cabazon, 15 minutes west of Palm Springs. More than 150 quality branded stores are found at Desert Hills Premium Outlets and Cabazon Outlets. [,]

February 2009 27

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power generated by the giant whirling

native Cahuilla people had a special re-

blades. Commentary covers the interna-

spect for the land and the ways they took

tional history of wind power and its role

care of the environment as part of their

in providing electricity today and in the

effort to survive. The canyons and associ-

future. “Falconry Educational Tour� pro-

ated resources are sacred to the Indians

vides insight into the fragility of birds of

and are historically important to scien-

prey habitats and various recovery pro-

tists and nature lovers. Visitor centers are

grams and sustainable practices. Elite

found at the trailheads at each location.

Land Tours offers many other itineraries


with sustainable themes. Most tours last

Green Friday in downtown Palm

one to four hours. [760-318-1200,

Springs is held the last Friday of the]

month and features extended store hours

Indian Canyons Hiking Trails and

until 8 p.m. Merchants who display the

Tahquitz Canyon Hiking Trail are

“Green Friday Palm Springs� logo offer

ranger-led interpretive hikes that explain

special discounts and also feature infor-

the landscape, the flora and fauna, and

mation and goods that are environmen-

the Cahuilla legends associated with the

tally sensitive. Other activities on Green

canyons and natural springs. Each trail is

Friday include seminars and displays

about one mile, and the tour lasts 90

showcasing alternative vehicles, eco-art,

minutes. Commentary explains how the

building materials and other green products. There are refreshments, entertainment and a treasure hunt. Green Friday is sponsored by Main Street Palm Springs Business Association. [760-322-7799,]

& 8A<JK@:

The Living Desert, located in Palm Desert, is a park and museum dedicated to the interpretation, conservation and protection of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fragile desert ecosystems. The grounds offer views of indigenous wildlife including many endangered species, a botanical garden, natural history museum and nature preserve. The Living Desert University (LDU) is a premier environmental learning center offering classes and seminars. [760-3465694,]


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PLAN IT! t  8P S M E  T  -B S H F T U  3P U B U J O H  5S B N t  -V O D I F P O  B O E  %J O O F S  1 B D L B H F T t  4 Q F D J B M  (S P V Q  %J T D P V O U T


Palm Springs Tourism: 800-347-7746, Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities: 800-967-3767,

Visit for complete resources.

28 February 2009

on our radar: west O

ALASKA Alaska kicked off its 50th Anniversary of Statehood celebration on Jan. 3, the date its Declaration of Statehood was signed and launch of a year-long schedule of anniversary events. Many events are organized by local communities and posted on their events calendars. Others are noted on the state’s website: Highlights include: Alaska History Walk: A Journey of Statehood 1867-2009, an outdoor exhibition on display in downtown Anchorage on Seventh Avenue between E & F streets. It is comprised of eight columns featuring 16 bronze placards showing historic photos and inscriptions that chronicle Alaska’s history from the time of its purchase from Russia. A 50th An-

The Mesa Historical Museum’s new exhibit is attracting baseball fans.

niversary of Statehood time capsule is located at the end of the History Walk. The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center honors the state’s golden an-

that represents its view of the statehood story. The panels are part of an exhibi-

niversary with the opening of a new

tion that travels the state throughout

four-story, glass-walled exhibition space

the year.

on May 20. Its inaugural exhibition, entitled Gold, features the 56-pound Nor-


mandy Nugget, a gold-plated room and

Play Ball: The Cactus League Experi-

a stash of gold doubloons retrieved

ence just opened at the Mesa Historical

from a sunken Spanish galleon. Life in

Museum. The exhibit celebrates the his-

Alaska Leading to Statehood, another

tory of professional baseball in Arizona

featured exhibition, recalls the 1950s

from the sport’s barnstorming days be-

through photography, school year-

fore statehood, researched to be as early

books, the statehood ballot and other

as 1909, to the inauguration of the Cac-

memorabilia. [907-343-6173, anchor-

tus League in 1947 and up to present] Alaska Railroad is celebrating the

day. The interactive exhibit focuses on the legendary boys of summer who re-

state’s golden anniversary by offering all

ported for spring training in the Ari-

who celebrate their 50th birthday in

zona desert. Play Ball features a

2009 with a free ride on its Anchorage-

“knothole” fence; an infield complete

to-Fairbanks Denali Star train. [907-

with vintage dugout, sky mural and

265-2494,] A 50th Anniversary Quilt is the re-

photo opportunity; interactive souvenir, concession and ticket booths; and a

sult of a statewide project in which

three-dimensional bus depot. Baseball

every city and town was invited to sub-

fans and history buffs will have the op-

mit a quilt panel with a scene or image

portunity to set their sights on never-be-

February 2009 29

on our radar: west O

fore-seen items gathered from private collections of Arizonans who knew the likes of Ted Williams, Sandy Koufax and Willie McCovey. [480-835-7358,] The first phase of CityCenter of CityNorth, the largest mixed-use development in Arizona history, just opened in the affluent Northeast Valley of Phoenix. Retailers in the High Street neighborhood include Alessi, GUESS, Talbots, White House | Black Market, Chico’s and Verde Maison. In the fall of 2010, The Boulevard neighborhood will open, featuring Macy’s, Arizona’s first Bloomingdale’s and Phoenix’s first Nordstrom. [480-355-0202,] The Musical Instrument Museum in Pop music culture enthralls guests at the new GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles.

Phoenix is set to open in early 2010. With musical instruments from every country in the world, MIM will pay homage to the history and diversity of

major regions: Europe, United States

instruments and introduce museum

and Canada, Latin America, Oceania,

media presentations, just opened in L.A.

guests to their varied and unique

Southeast Asia, East Asia, Central and

Live, the downtown Los Angeles sports,

floors of dynamic and interactive multi-

sounds. MIM will be an engaging, en-

South Asia, Middle East and Africa.

entertainment and residential district.

tertaining and informative experience,

Live performances in an intimate audi-

The 32,000-square-foot facility explores

in which the uninitiated and the knowl-

torium will make MIM a center of

all forms of music, the creative process,

edgeable will feel welcome. Museum

world music performance. []

art and technology of the recording

both the musical similarities and differ-


music’s GRAMMY Award. There are

guests will gain an appreciation for

process, and the history of recording

ences among divergent cultures, coun-

The Sports Museum of Los Angeles

artist profiles, films, timelines, memora-

tries and ethnicities through

(SMLA), with one of the largest and

bilia, a 200-seat soundstage and a mock

state-of-the-art exhibits. Integrated

broadest collections of sports memora-

studio where visitors can experience the

audio and video experiences will enable

bilia and collectibles in the world, re-

actual recording process, with industry

guests to appreciate the sounds of in-

cently opened in downtown Los

experts leading the way through mixing

struments from around the world as

Angeles, just south of STAPLES Center

and producing. [213-765-6800,

well as to see these instruments played

and L.A. Live. The 30 galleries cover]

in their cultural contexts.

football, basketball, baseball, golf, ten-

The museum will display about

Berkeley is home to the oldest of the

nis, biking and other sports. What

University of California campuses, often

5,000 instruments, from the exquisite

makes the museum unique is that the

considered to be America’s most liberal-

heirlooms of royal courts to hand-

collection belongs to just one

minded community and, thanks to culi-

crafted pieces passed down through

person–museum founder and CEO

nary whizzes like Alice Waters and her

generations. Some will have been played

Gary Cypres. [888-540-8223,

contemporaries, recognized as the birth-

by famous artists. The collection will be]

place of modern American food trends

organized into galleries representing 30 February 2009

The GRAMMY Museum, with four

and cuisine. A visit to the Shattuck

enue neighborhood, more fondly called

enjoy their complimentary Wacky

Gourmet Ghetto, offers foodies a sub-

Quackers, yellow-billed duck whistles,

lime experience. Within a few blocks

as they quack at pedestrians. The vehi-

there are more than 23 specialty food

cles, built from the ground up, are mod-

emporiums and eateries, none with

eled after the DUKWs that carried

chain names, and all focused on provid-

troops and supplies during WWII. The

ing the highest quality foods. There are

ticketing and boarding location is at

bakers, cheese makers, confectioners,

Fisherman’s Wharf. Discounts are avail-

and other artisan food specialists, plus a

able for groups of 20 or more. [415-

variety of coffee, tea and wine mer-


chants. Dining options range from ca-

The San Diego Zoo’s Harry and

sual cafes specializing in regional ethnic

Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey opens

cuisines to gourmet pizzerias, organic

this spring. The $44-million, seven-acre

vegan menus and, of course, Waters’ ex-

habitat will feature Asian elephants, a

traordinary prix fixe menu at Chez

California condor, sloths, snakes and

Panisse. A fun option for a group’s first visit

rodents, as well as life-size replicas of animal species that dotted the Southern

to Gourmet Ghetto is to take a tasting

California landscape more than 10,000

tour with epicurean concierge Lisa Ro-

years ago. A herd of eight elephants will

govin. Groups from six to 40 guests are

roam a 2.5-acre exhibit that will include

led on a culinary adventure with tasting

a 120,000-gallon pool, gentle rolling

at each stop. [415-806-5970,

hills and the Conrad Prebys Elephant] While in

Management Facility, where visitors can

Berkeley, other unique tasting experi-

see keepers and veterinarians at work

ences are found at Scharffen Berger

with the animals and tour the facility

Chocolate [510-981-4066,

for educational and interactive experi-] and Takara Sake

ences. Additional highlights of Elephant

USA [510-540-8250,].

Odyssey include a tar pit replication,

Both of these companies offer produc-

fossil dig, children’s play area and a tun-

tion tours and tastings. For more infor-

neled walkway through a herd of ele-

mation about Gourmet Ghetto and

phants. [619-231-1515,

Berkeley sights, contact the Berkeley]

CVB: 800-847-4823, Ride The Ducks, the amphibious tour operator, has just made a big

HAWAII During Hawaii’s 50th Anniversary of

splash in the San Francisco tourism in-

Statehood this year, each island will in-

dustry. The 90-minute sightseeing tour

corporate special activities in annual

includes about 60 minutes on land and

events as well has host ceremonial

30 minutes on the water. It winds

events on relevant national holidays and

through the city’s historic streets and

Hawaii’s Admission Day, Aug. 21. “50

neighborhoods, splashes down into Mc-

Voices of Statehood,” a series of radio

Covey Cove and “quacks” along the

and television vignettes that will be

bay. Sights along the route include Fish-

aired throughout the year, features a di-

erman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Ghirardelli

verse selection of presenters from across

Square, Union Square, SOMA, AT&T

the state, many of whom participated in

Ballpark and Bay Bridge. Passengers

the statehood debate 50 years ago and

February 2009 31

on our radar: west O

The National Folk Festival in Butte, Mont. brings a jubilant and dizzying feast of the deeply traditional folk arts. express their personal perspective on

show the evolution of the annual Albu-

the issues then and now. The USS

querque International Balloon Fiesta

Hawai’i, the first commissioned subma-

from its inaugural flight in 1972 to

rine name for the state, will be honored

today’s world-famous event. The 2009

on Memorial Day at Pearl Harbor.

Fiesta dates are Oct. 3-11. [505-768-




Albuquerque opens at a new location

The National Atomic Museum in Butte is host to the annual National

this spring as the National Museum of

Folk Festival, July 10-12, 2009 and

Nuclear Science and History. The

July 9-11, 2010. This is the country's

$10.5-million facility will offer exhibits

largest and most prestigious celebration

on both the technical side of nuclear

of traditional American folk arts and

science and its historical development.

attracts renowned performers and arti-

The 30,000-square-foot building will

sans in various genres of music, dance,

be adjacent to the Sandia Science and

crafts and storytelling. The three-day

Technology Park in southeast Albu-

event is free and offers ongoing enter-

querque. It will house 13 permanent

tainment on seven main stages. The an-

major exhibits. The museum’s historical

nual festival has been held in various

aircraft and military vehicle collection

locations since its founding in 1934.

will be displayed on nine acres sur-

This is the first time it is being held in a

rounding the building. [505-245-2137,

Western state. [800-735-6814,],]

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express light rail system has expanded

32 February 2009


and now travels between Belen, south

The 2009 featured exhibition at the In-

of Albuquerque, to Santa Fe. This new

ternational Balloon Museum in Albu-

service offers travelers a convenient

querque is A Fiesta Patchwork: Images

way to visit the state’s two main cities

Through Time. Artifacts and photos

and attend popular festivals like the

Bernalillo annual Labor Day weekend

Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. and his

which later housed the Hertzberg Cir-

Wine Fest. Local transit and shuttle

late wife Janey, the museum will show-

cus Museum. An enclosed bridge will

services to popular sights and event ven-

case art, artifacts and interactive ex-

connect it to a new building with two

ues serve the Rail Runner stations.

hibits that tell the story of the American

more floors of exhibits and an event

Group and senior rates are available.

West, with emphasis on South Texas

Pavilion. [888-365-7472,

Tickets are available online and at sta-

and San Antonio. The main building is]

tions. [866-795-7245,

the landmark 1930 Carnegie Library,] OKLAHOMA The Cherokee Nation’s Cultural Tourism Department has completed the second and final renovation to the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill. The entrance to the museum store and all-new grand atrium is framed by three tall columns, remaining signatures of the former 1850 Cherokee Female Seminary, the first institution of higher learning for women west of the Mississippi. The Cherokee Heritage Center, which sits on a 44-acre complex, was established in 1963 by Chief W.W. Keeler to house tribal historical documents, photographs and exhibits. The living village was inaugurated in 1967 and the museum and gift shop followed in 1974. The center also features the Tsa-La-Gi Ancient Village


and Adams Corner Rural Village. The Cherokee Nation is a federally recognized tribe of more than 280,000 Cherokee citizens, with its capital located in Tahlequah, Okla. Employing more than 6,500 people, Cherokee Nation’s annual economic impact in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is more than $1 billion. [888-999-6007,] TEXAS The Briscoe Western Art Museum opens in 2010 along San Antonio’s Riverwalk, within easy walking distance of the Alamo and other attractions.


Named for cattle rancher and former

February 2009 33

Palm Springs: Seeing Green in Action  

Ecotourism thrives in the desert communities of Southern California, reports Leisure Group Travel senior editor Elana Andersen. The Palm Spr...