Home » vacation » Sunnylands


Cacti on the Grounds of the Sunnylands Center & Gardens

Attached to the historic Sunnylands Estate in Rancho Mirage are extensive cactus gardens that are open to the general public five days a week. My brother Dan and I wanted to tour the estate, but it was closed for a scheduled event. Instead, we spent a couple hours seeing a film about the role of the center in world politics and walking the gardens.

Although the center has no official status, it has been the site of meetings with such figures as most of the recent U.S. Presidents, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, and prominent entertainment figures such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Sammy Davis Jr.

The only recent President who did not put in an appearance there was Donald J. Trump, probably because there was some fear he would break plates and steal the silver.

On the premises of the estate at one time were paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Andrew Wyeth, and Monet. When Walter and Leonore Annenberg died, these paintings were donated to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The nine-hole golf course is still there, to be used by invited guests of the Annenberg Foundation Trust, who may stay overnight in one of a number of elegant cottages on the grounds.

The cactus gardens by themselves are a work of art, with some of the most elegant landscaping I have ever seen.