Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, California.
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5 Things You Didn't Know About SoCal's Desert

How to Experience Palm Springs, Joshua Tree & More
By Harry Basch

California's Southern Desert region experienced one of the hottest summers in desert history; a 12-day, triple-digit heat wave was its longest in three years. Now the area is finally cooling down and gearing up for its winter season. If you fled the heat, here are a few unique attractions and activities, both in Palm Springs and the outer fringes of the desert terrain, to bring you back. If the heat returns with you, find a pool (we recommend rather unique accommodations with a pool, below).

Photo Caption: Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, California.
The Forever Marilyn statue of Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, California.
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If you spot Marilyn Monroe outside of Palm Springs, it's not a desert mirage.
In May, a 26-foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe, in her classic skirt-billowing pose from The Seven Year Itch (1955), was carefully and lovingly transported from Chicago to the desert getaway of Palm Springs -- where it fits right in. The statue, "Forever Marilyn" by artist Seward Johnson, will be on view at the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Palm Canyon Drive through June 2013.

Photo caption: The Forever Marilyn statue of Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, California
Highlining (also known as slacklining) in Joshua Tree National Park California.
Balance Community
Rock climbing is becoming a high-wire act as "highlining" gains popularity.
Joshua Tree National Park is known for attracting rock climbers, but a new sport has sprung up among the rocks: Highlining consists of traversing an inch-wide nylon line suspended between two rock formations, 200 feet above a group of granite boulders, without balancing poles of any kind; it's all a matter of breathing right and finding you center of balance. If you don't? A tether line connected to your waist keeps you from wiping out. All this takes place in an area known as the "Hall of Horrors." Watch highliners in action here and here. For gear and further information, try www.balancecommunity.com.

Photo caption: Highlining (also known as slacklining) in Joshua Tree National Park, California
Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage, California.
Mark Davidson
The most buzzed-about ticket in town is not a musical -- it's a house tour.
Musical acts like the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies may be popular (see below), but you'll have a tougher time getting tickets to Sunnylands, 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage (www.sunnylands.org), the one-time estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg -- and playground for presidents, royalty, and celebrities -- which opened its gates to tours in March. This 200-acre plot of desert transformation consists of a 25,000-sq. ft. main house (with only one bedroom), 22 guest houses, golf courses, a driving range, fish-stocked lakes, and ubiquitous flowers and vegetation. Book ahead: Tickets for 90-minute tours ($35/person) are released online at 9am on the 1st and 15th of the month.

Photo caption: Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage, California.
The Fabulous Palm Spring Follies in Palm Springs, California.
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One of the best shows in town is a review of dazzling performers -- all ages 54 to 83.
The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies returns for its 22nd season of songs, dances, and snappy patter with a new revue, "Dance with the Music." You'll marvel at the ensemble of singers and dancers aged 54 to 83. This not camp; they are beautiful and talented. Guest stars this season include Lorna Luft (Nov 1-Dec 31) singing songs her mother, Judy Garland, taught her; Lou Christie (Jan 8-Mar 9) making his first Follies appearance; and Lesley Gore (Mar 12-May 19) belting out hits like "It's My Party." Shows play five days a week with two matinees, and tickets are $50 to $95. Located at the Plaza Theater, 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive (tel. 760/327-0225; www.psfollies.com).

Photo caption: The Fabulous Palm Spring Follies in Palm Springs, California.
Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, California.
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You can rent a trailer in the desert to hide from zombies or communicate with aliens.
If you're looking for desert accommodations, there is nothing out there like (or as out there as) Hicksville Trailer Palace (tel. 310/584-1086; www.hicksville.com) in Joshua Tree. This artists' retreat -- created by writer and director Morgan Higby Night -- offers seven uniquely designed trailers clustered around a kidney-shaped pool. Choose from a sci-fi-inspired Airstream trailer, equipped with an alien communication device and fog machine ("The Integratrailor," $100/night), a carnival-themed trailer ("The Sideshow," $175/night), or a zombie apocalypse bunker ("Project Z," $150/night). All units have A/C and some feature full baths; for others, guests share on-site bathrooms and shower facilities. Located roughly 2 hours northeast of Los Angeles (east on Interstate 10, north on California 62).

Photo caption: Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, California.
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