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Touring Sunnylands Center & Gardens

A tranquil golf course with a small pond reflecting the surrounding trees and a clear view of distant mountains against a blue sky.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens, the former Annenberg Estate, is a marvel that has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities alike. It was built in 1966, and the vision of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Designed by the renowned architect A. Quincy Jones, the estate was a winter retreat for the couple, where they could entertain the most influential figures of the time.

Sunnylands first opened to the public in March 2012. Upon entering the 15-acre site, a winding driveway takes visitors through a desert art garden to the glass facade of Sunnylands Center. The spacious, contemporary building houses a rotating art exhibition, café, gift shop, and multimedia offerings that detail the history of Sunnylands and its founders.

A modern building with large glass windows and a flat roof, with the text "A PLACE AT THE TABLE" on the front, set against a backdrop of towering mountains and a blue sky. The landscape features desert vegetation and a clear driveway leading to the entrance.

Sunnylands Gardens

The Office of James Burnett and horticultural consultant Mary Irish designed the landscape. Inspired by the Annenberg collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, the gardens reflected the importance of these paintings to the Annenbergs, who bequeathed the collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1991.

Burnett’s signature designs are habitable and sensitive, with shade, quiet, and natural elements that appeal to the senses. Twin reflecting pools filled with river stones flank the center’s rear windows and patios. To the west, a labyrinth winds through rows of Wedelia (Sphagneticola trilobata), creating a contemplative and quiet space.

Over 70 species of native and arid-adapted plants from North and South America, Africa, and the Mediterranean are displayed in the nine-acre gardens.

A desert garden at dusk with orange-flowered plants in the foreground, agave plants in the middle, and tall, thin trees in the background under a clear sky.

Sunnylands Cafe

Light lunches and snacks are served at the Sunnylands café while you enjoy the best view in the Coachella Valley. The menu includes a selection of salads, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Specials include iced tea, the way Mrs. Annenberg liked it, and French press coffee.

A Hub for Diplomacy and Discussion

Over the years, Sunnylands has welcomed eight U.S. Presidents and countless world leaders.

In 1966, it welcomed its first guests, among whom was President Dwight D. Eisenhower. President Richard Nixon drafted his final State of the Union Address while visiting Sunnylands, and later, President Gerald Ford visited in 1974. Frank and Barbara Sinatra were married at Sunnyland in 1976.

Three elderly individuals standing together outdoors, with a woman in the middle wearing a pink shirt and a wide-brimmed hat, flanked by two men in sweaters and jackets, with a gazebo and mountains in the background.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip visited Sunnylands in 1983.

Four distinguished individuals posing for a photograph, two men wearing suits and two women in dresses and hats, indoors with a neutral backdrop.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan enjoyed a New Year’s stay to ring in the new year. He returned in 1988, and it was at Sunnylands that he signed a free trade agreement with Canada.

Four elderly individuals, two men wearing black tuxedos with bow ties and two women in elegant dresses, pose for a photo in a room with a framed painting in the background.

President George H. W. Bush hosted an official White House dinner at Sunnylands for Japanese Prime Minister Toshikit Kaifu in 1990.

President Barack Obama hosted President Xi Jinping of China at Sunnylands in 2013. The next year, he greeted King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Sunnylands. In 2023, U.S. envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Minister Xie Zhenha, issued a Historic climate change accord at the property.

Two men walking and talking together on the grass with a building in the background. They are both dressed in business casual attire with shirts untucked and sleeves rolled up.

The Historic Golf Course

Dick Wilson, a highly regarded golf course designer in the 1950s and ’60s, designed the Sunnylands course in 1964 in a parkland style. Golf course designers Tim Jackson and David Kahn, responsible for the course’s 2011 restoration, used painstaking research into Wilson’s original concept and created greens that average 8,000 to 9,000 square feet, allowing for a double-looping, 9-hole, par 72 course. Moreover, the course’s irrigation system was upgraded for efficiency and environmental sustainability, and roughly 60 acres of turf grass was removed to reduce water use.

The Sunnylands course is unique for its distinctive landmarks. A magnolia tree sits on the seventh hole, given to the Annenbergs in 1972 by President Richard Nixon, who kept a set of clubs on the property. The gift was cut from a magnolia tree planted on the White House grounds nearly 200 years ago by President Andrew Jackson. On the fifth fairway is a 30-foot Kwakiutl totem pole. A visiting Canadian official suggested the piece in 1976, and the Annenbergs then commissioned it from Canadian First Nations artist Henry Hunt. The golf course is not open to the public.

The Annenberg Legacy

Walter Annenberg, born to a Jewish family in Milwaukee, was a man of many facets: a businessman, investor, philanthropist, and diplomat. He transformed Triangle Publications, which included The Philadelphia Inquirer and TV Guide, into a media empire. His philanthropic efforts were monumental, with significant contributions to educational establishments and art galleries.

Leonore Annenberg, Walter’s wife, was equally influential, known for her gracious entertaining and support for cultural and patriotic causes. Together, they established the Annenberg Foundation in 1988, which continues to support various educational and cultural initiatives

An elderly couple poses for a portrait with the woman standing slightly behind the man, resting her hand on his shoulder. Both are dressed formally, the woman in a paisley patterned dress with gold earrings and the man in a pinstripe suit with a tie and lapel pin. They appear dignified and composed against a blurred natural background.

Health & Wellness

Tai Chi

Tai chi at Sunnylands Center & Gardens is an opportunity to experience a traditional teaching. Participants learn the beginning positions of the form rooted in tai chi philosophy and principles. No previous experience with tai chi is required.

Tai chi is offered every Saturday at 10 am from November through April. The 60-minute sessions, held outdoors in the gardens, are open to all ages and experience levels. Participants should dress comfortably. Sun protection and water are suggested. Admission is free. Reservations are not required.

A large group of people of various ages engaged in an outdoor yoga class on a sunny day with mountains in the background and trees in the foreground.


Sunnylands Yoga offers a beginner to intermediate experience. Every Friday at 10 am from November through April, 60-minute sessions are held on the Great Lawn.  These session are open to all age and experience levels.

The 60-minute sessions take place outdoors. All participants should bring yoga mats and dress comfortably. Sun protection and water are suggested. Sessions are free. No reservations are required.

Purchase Tickets

Historic  Home Tour

Guided 90-minute tour | $55 per person | 7 guests per tour

Explore the Annenbergs’ historic winter home—a 25,000 square-foot midcentury modern masterpiece. Walk through the spaces where history took place, including extravagant New Year’s Eve parties, nationally and globally important meetings, and intimate moments spent with the Annenbergs’ family and close friends.

Guests ride an electric shuttle to the house; walk and stand for a sustained period inside the home.

Advance ticket sales are online only (no phone, email, or in person purchases). Tickets go on sale on the 15th day of each month starting at 9 am Pacific time for the following month’s tours.

The minimum age for tour guests is 10 years. There is no waiting list for sold out tours.

Elegant interior of a spacious room with marble floors, a central geometric ceiling pattern, and a series of square columns. The room features artwork on the walls, a large statue in the center surrounded by pink flowers, and multiple tables with chairs spread throughout.

Open-Air Experience

Guided 45-minute shuttle tour | $28 per person | 7 guests per tour

Take a guided shuttle ride throughout the 200-acre estate. Learn about the Sunnylands landscape, outdoor sculpture, nine-hole golf course, and sustainability efforts. This tour brings guests to the doorstep of the historic house but inside access is not permitted.

Walking is not required on this tour; passengers must be able to board a shuttle.

A group of people walking alongside a golf cart on a pathway bordered by agave plants in a sunny park setting.

Birding on the Estate

Guided 90-minute shuttle tour | $39 per person | 7 guests per tour

Join an experienced local birder for this birding tour on the estate. Discover the variety of birds that prompted the Annenbergs to dedicate 25 acres of the estate as a sanctuary for resident and migratory birds.

This tour does not include access to the historic house. Offered November – April.

An older couple outdoors smiling with binoculars, the man wearing a cap and the woman in a sunhat, with other people and greenery in the background.

Historic Walk

Guided 60-minute walking tour | $26 per person | 12 guests per tour

Meet a knowledgeable guide and take a leisurely walk onto the estate. This one-mile walk focuses on the history of Sunnylands, the Annenbergs and their guests, midcentury modern architecture, and design.

This tour includes close-up outdoor views of the historic house. It does not include access to the house interior. Offered November – April.

A group of people standing outside a modern building with a distinctive roof and an ancient-styled column in the foreground.

It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Admission and parking are free, and tickets/reservations are not required. No pets. No smoking.

37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage

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