If you’ve been promising yourself a long overdue visit to Rancho Mirage’s Sunnylands—the 200-acre, beautifully designed and decorated midcentury modern estate of the late media titan Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore—you’ve got just a matter of days to do so before the legendary landmark shutters for the summer months of July and August.
For the uninitiated: After being closed for a period of extensive expansion and renovation, Sunnylands re-opened its doors in 2012 as a world-class retreat venue for world leaders. President Barrack Obama has visited twice. When not used for official diplomatic purposes, Sunnylands Center & Gardens is made available for public visits free of charge from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tours of the historic, 25,000-square-foot private home are $35 per person, tickets for which are available online at www.sunnylands.org.
What I love about visiting the private residence in June is that, during warmer months, the regular tour is altered to allow guests to spend more time inside and includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen, which is not available at other times of the year.
Securing a spot on these popular and intimate excursions (a maximum of seven guests is allowed to accompany each guide) can be tricky. The box office opens online at 9:00 a.m. on the 1st and 15th of each month, with tickets issued on the 1st good for tour days and times between the 16th to the last day of that month. Tickets issued on the 15th are good for tour days and times between the 1st and the 15th of the following month. Tours are conducted Thursdays through Sundays only.
Needless to say, Sunnylands is a spellbinding place that’s well worth your time. If you miss the end-of-June window, please note that Sunnylands will re-open on September 4, 2014.