Spectacular Sunnylands: Take a Tour

The mid-'60s gem is there for you to see (plus, there's an exhibit on, too).

RANCHO MIRAGE MIRAGE: The desert resorts are dotted with domiciles that have been splashed across the pages of decor-oriented magazines and architecture-focused coffee books. Mid-century is the very pronounced theme, as you know if you've driven down one or two streets of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, or Rancho Mirage. Rancho Mirage, though, has had a special flower in its buttonhole for just about a half century, the glorious estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Sunnylands, which was designed by A. Quincy Jones, a visionary much associated with high mid-century modern style (and those oh-so-recognizable deliberately drawn roofs), is suited to its hometown, because it can seem a bit mirage-y with its water elements, pink walls, and just-got-in-from-1966 feel. It's an authentic feel many other mid-'60s buildings would love to reclaim, or the owners of such buildings, but Sunnylands never lost it, even when the lavishly appointed retreat stopped serving as a private residence in 2009 and opened to the public in 2012. Sunnylands is open almost all year, save July and August, but Modernism Week is one of its busiest times, thanks in large part to its large reputation as a creme de la landmark among mid-centurians attending the design gathering. Modernism Week has wrapped, but tours of Sunnylands are continuing...

IF YOU CAN BOOK ONE: We do not mean to be ominous at all, only firm: To get on a tour of the 25,000-square-foot estate, you must secure your ticket well in advance, when they become available. This is not a drive up to the house kind of thing, though you can visit the Center & Gardens without an appointment Thursdays through Sundays. As for what's inside the house? The renovations leading to the 2012 opening are plentiful -- paintings, furniture, and tony touches blend well with the idea of a desert vacation home for the art-loving Annenbergs. A year-long exhibition, which is on through January 2016, is absolutely worth spending some time admiring. Name? "Treasures at Sunnylands: Selections from the Gift Collection of Walter & Leonore Annenberg." Eight U.S. presidents visited the estate, and several other luminaries, too, and, as was and is tradition, a gift was presented to the hosts. It's a peek inside a charming domestic ritual as seen through a prism of power, affluence, and decades gone by. You're keen to see, yes? And to swan about Sunnylands, one of the desert's poshest playgrounds.

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