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Going Organic ‘On the Hill’

A visit to Idyllwild by Scott Cole

For Coachella Valley residents, living in the desert may require a journey or two to occasionally “beat the heat,” or to just get away to explore a different landscape. One beautiful, healthy option is to visit the town of Idyllwild an idyllic, rustic, artistic, charming get away that prides itself on having a world class art school (Idyllwild Arts Academy). It is also home to numerous art galleries, art walks and shows year-round, a world class jazz festival (Jazz in the Pines) and live music venues. You’ll find numerous wilderness hiking trails (Humber Park, Ernie Maxwell Trail, etc.), climbing peaks (Lily rock and Suicide rock), and some of the best food in Southern California including many organic options.

One hour door to door, from either Palm Springs (I-10 to 243 through Banning) or Palm Desert (up 74 through Garner Valley and Mountain Center), this treasure of a town is not only free of fast food chains and mini-mall “sameness” that clutter so many American townships, but is also full of great food choices, regionally and locally grown produce, and an array of wonderful restaurants.

Idyllwild sits HIGH, literally, 5300 feet up, in oxygen-rich, stellar, forested San Jacinto Mountain land, and is generally 25-30 degrees cooler than the desert floor below.

In 1999, I have also maintained a hilltop getaway since 2000, in Idyllwild, and have frequented this ‘more than special’ town with great joy these past 11 years. I continually marvel at the consciousness of the “mountain folk,” who, by choice, keep the town ALIVE with music, art, expression, and FOOD. Idyllwild is very refreshingly Organic indeed, embracing a true “It takes a village” approach that is rarely seen in modern times.

Going organic in Idyllwild is amazingly easy. From Higher Grounds coffee Shop serving 100% organic coffee, to the divinely eclectic cafe aroma creating delicious organic meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), to the highly ORGANIC Mountain Harvest Market community Health Food Store, which has a Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., showcasing some of the most beautiful organic produce you’ve ever seen, Idyllwild is indeed rich in organic options.

If you are interested in organic substances from the earth, like dinosaur poop (seriously), rocks, fossils, and beautiful one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry, check out Everitt’s Minerals. One could easily spend days shopping amongst the many quaint stores, galleries, and gift shops that line Idyllwild’s authentic charming streets.

Other noteworthy, ambiance-rich, fine dining establishments include restaurant Gastrognome, and Creek House. You may want to happily indulge in a vegetarian quiche or a chicken pot pie from Gary’s Deli, a cup of soup from Nature’s Wisdom, a sumptuous omelette at Oma’s European Restaurant, or a spot of tea sitting outside amongst the trees at The Idyllwild Tea House.

Treat yourself to a day or two, a week or two, or heck, spend a month in this quaint mountain paradise rent a place, buy a place, or stay in a rustic cabin at the Idyllwild Inn or Silver Pines Lodge, or in a nurturing bed and breakfast like the Strawberry Creek Inn, or in a “Green Hotels Association” hotel like Quiet Creek Inn, getting back to nature, experiencing a real return to ORGANIC LIVING.