We Love the Earth Big Time

Here are 14 things to do in our universe year round. 

Animals that reside in Chicago are not always under the auspices of Lincoln Park Zoo. Citizen scientists are logging in sightings of urban wildlife, and motion-triggered cameras are capturing creatures for Chicago Wildlife Watch. This Zooniverse project is a collaboration between Adler Planetarium and Lincoln Park Zoo.

M2E1L8-20R350B300Photo courtesy of Urban Wildlife Institute

The greenness of Chicago is most apparent from the rooftop at the J. Parker. This may be a big city, but the trees power it.


A “Ripped from the Headlines” running tour is jogging with a purpose. In a 5-kilometer run, you’ll race by five sites where tragic disasters happened. As City Running Tours proclaims, “sweat and sightsee simultaneously.”

Chicago-city-stations-courtesy-urban-wildlife-institutePhoto courtesy of Urban Wildlife Institute

In landscape-thirsty Palm Springs, the “Cactus Castle” is something to get behind. Opened in 1938 by one of the original Keystone Kops, Moorten Botanical Gardens and Cactarium shows off about 3,000 varieties of cactuses.

What’s up with the numerous wind turbines in Palm Springs? That’s the table topic on the Windmill Tour that brings you to a wind park to discuss green energy. It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds.

PalmSprings-Windmills_courtesy Palm Springs
A bocce court requires no turf, just desert dirt. Throw it down at The Saguaro Palm Springs.

The giant Saguaro cactus can only be spotted in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. A half-day tour with Arizona Outback Adventures will give you a new understanding of the prickly beast.


Best use of the nectar of the agave? Naranja Roja, a blood orange margarita with a habanero twist at Distrito in Scottsdale. Pass the guac and chips.

San Francisco’s nooks and secret gardens are revealed on a tour with architectural historian Rick Evan. One of these spaces is an urban garden within Galleria Park Hotel in the Financial District.

Whiz around Oakland’s Lake Merritt and Jack London neighborhoods on the battery-run human transporter known as the Segway. Yes, people will stare. They’re jealous. Tours come with lessons.


Sculptor David Best is known for his wooden temples set aflame at Burning Man. His latest piece, an architectural gateway, has been installed at the site of the future Franklin Light Station (scheduled 2016) in Sacramento. There will be no burning.

Sacramento_DavidBest-arch_courtesy-SacramentoArtsCommisionPhoto courtesy of the Sacramento Arts Commission 

Sacramento_FranklinStationPhoto courtesy of Blue Line to Cosumnes River College 

One of the most magical characteristics of Big Sur is how little it changes over time. A trail that starts on Ventana leads to a circle of redwoods, known as “fairy rings” or “cathedrals.” These redwoods have seen the decades pass.


The ocean sure is the bomb in Laguna Beach, but so is the canyon. Within the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park are a variety of hikes (hiking yoga, geology hikes) led by volunteers from the Laguna Canyon Foundation.

Laguna-West-Ridge-Trail_Terry-TysonPhoto by Terry Tyson via Flickr

Two-thirds of the earth is ocean. A whopping 95% of the ocean is unexplored.

While many of us know the first fact, the second isn’t as widely circulated. Who knows what we’ll find. That’s why it’s kind of cool that marine researchers from University of California, Santa Cruz share with the rest of us non-scientists. They do so at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, which is set up to replicate the look and feel of a working marine lab. You can go to the center, or its docents can come to you: On weekends in the spring and summer, they lead 30-minute tours that start on the wharf.


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