Sunnylands Center & Gardens, open to the public free from Thursday through Sunday, offers visitors information about the history and cultural significance of Sunnylands, the historic mid-century modern estate that was the winter residence of Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The building, designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners, is surrounded by nine acres of gardens planted with more than 70,000 arid-resistant plants and trees. Landscape architect James Burnett said that the design was inspired by the Annenbergs’ collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
Visitors to Sunnylands Center & Gardens can enjoy a variety of free public programs, guided gardens walks, changing exhibitions, a selection of 20th century sculpture from the Sunnylands collection, films and multi-media kiosks. The Center’s great room, with a camera-ready view of Mount St. Jacinto, was designed by Michael Smith, best known for his work for the Obama White House. The gift shop features a selection of items from post cards to housewares with a Sunnylands-design aesthetic. A café features light lunches, coffee, tea, and snacks.
The Historic Estate
The Center is the starting point for tours of the historic estate. Tickets for tours must be purchased online. For complete information, see www.Sunnylands.org/visit.
The historic house and grounds were completed in 1966. The house, designed by A. Quincy Jones, a pioneer of midcentury modern architecture, is on 200 acres that contains thousands of trees and a nine-hole golf course designed by Dick Wilson.
The historic residence, where the Annenbergs entertained presidents, royalty, celebrities, and international leaders, was left by them for high-level retreats devoted to international understanding and the public good. Since their passing, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands has hosted meetings that address serious issues facing the nation and the world, including the 2013 meeting between President Obama and President Xi of the People’s Republic of China.