Sunnylands Center & Gardens – open to the public free from 8:30 am to 4 pm, Wednesday through Sunday (closed in summer) – offers visitors information about the history and cultural significance of the historic midcentury modern estate that was the winter residence of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners in the late 2000s, the Center is surrounded by a nine-acre art garden planted with more than 70,000 arid-climate 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, including guided garden walks, exhibitions, a selection of 20th century sculpture from the Sunnylands collection, films, and multi-media kiosks. The interior of the Center’s Great Room, with a camera-ready view of Mount St. Jacinto, was designed by Michael Smith, best known for his work decorating the residential quarters of the Obama White House. The gift shop features a selection of items related to Sunnylands. A café features light lunches, coffee, tea, and snacks.
The Historic Estate
The 15-acre Center & Gardens is the starting point for tours of the 200-acre historic estate. Tickets for tours must be purchased online. For complete information, see https://sunnylands.org/visit/.
The historic house and grounds were completed in 1966. The house was designed by A. Quincy Jones, a pioneer of midcentury modern architecture. The estate contains thousands of trees, 11 man-made lakes, a tennis court, and a nine-hole golf course designed by Dick Wilson.
The Annenbergs left the historic residence – where they entertained seven U.S. presidents, British royalty, celebrities, and international leaders – in a public trust to be forever operated as a high-level retreat center 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.
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