SunnylandsReopened Center & Gardens Offer Autumnal Activities

After a scorching summer, it’s nice to welcome September in Rancho Mirage. Slightly cooler temperatures allow for outdoor adventures. With the reopening of Sunnylands and the return of Films on the Lawn, there’s much to do during autumn days and nights.

Visit the gardens

While Sunnylands Center & Gardens is closed for summer, it reopens on September 11, 2019, Patriot Day. World leaders who have sought the privacy, peace, and “the pause” needed to address the most pressing issues of the day have made this a destination. Admission and parking are free, so it’s possible to drop in during open hours and take a quiet stroll through the gardens.

Plan ahead and purchase a ticket to tour the historic house, get a guided tour with a local birder or take in a number of other activities.

Currently on exhibit

In 1976, Walter and Leonore Annenberg commissioned a 30-foot-tall red cedar totem pole for their 200-acre California desert estate. Canadian First Nations artist Henry Hunt, a Kwakiutl chief, carved the masterpiece that stands on the fifth fairway of the Sunnylands grounds.

Henry’s son Stan Hunt and grandson Jason Hunt restored the historic pole in 2010 and rededicated it at the estate in 2012. The “Reach for the Sky: Tradition + Inspiration” exhibition extends the Hunt legacy of Kwakiutl art at Sunnylands by introducing the work of Stan and Jason Hunt.

Unknown to the Hunt family, American musician and artist Herb Alpert visited
Stanley Park in Vancouver in the 1980s. He was inspired by the Kwakiutl totems to create vertical sculpture. Thus, the exhibition of artwork by the Hunt Family includes works by Alpert and explores the ways in which artists inspire each other across culture, space, and time. “Reach for the Sky: Tradition + Inspiration” is on view from September 11, 2019, through June 7, 2020.

Films on the Lawn

Sunnylands Center & Gardens’ free outdoor movie series, Films on the Great Lawn, is back for three Fridays in September with classic 1950s science fiction films. Presented in partnership with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the gates open at 7:00 p.m. and film begins at 7:30 p.m. This season’s selections include:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: September 13 – This 1956 original is the thriller that inspired a handful of remakes. Directed by Don Siegel, it stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The black-and-white movie was the first Allied Artists film to be shot in SuperScope. This is the psychological sci-fi tale of an extraterrestrial invasion that begins in the fictional California town of Santa Mira. Large alien seed pods from space are capable of reproducing a duplicate replacement copy of each human. As a local doctor uncovers this invasion of pod people, he attempts to stop it.

The War of the Worlds: September 20 – This was the very first of five film adaptations of H.G. Wells’ classic novel. In this version, it’s not Victorian era-England, but (yet another) small California town near Linda Rosa, where Martians land and begin a worldwide invasion. An Academy Award winner for Best Visual Effects, this Technicolor science fiction drama was deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant in 2011 by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The Thing from Another World!: September 27 – After the U.S. Air Force and scientists find a crashed flying saucer and body frozen in the Arctic ice, they are forced to defend themselves against the still alive and malevolent plant-based alien when it accidentally defrosts. While it may be difficult to recognize the actor who portrays “The Thing,” it’s James Arness, best known for portraying Marshal Matt Dillon for 20 years in the CBS television series “Gunsmoke.”

Filmgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, and small picnic items for the outdoor screening. Large coolers, alcohol, smoking, and pets are not permitted. (Please see information about Sunnylands policies regarding pets and picnics.) With limited parking, carpooling is strongly advised.

Why not stay?

Enjoy a late Friday night and then spend the weekend taking in all that Rancho Mirage has to offer, including dining, shopping, events and more. It’s easy to find a resort with all the amenities that fit your needs.