Sunnylands – The Camp David of the West

Cathy Muldoon October 31, 2020

Sunnylands, the estate of the late Walter and Leonore Annenberg has hosted seven US presidents over the years. As a result, it is often called the Camp David of the West.


The Annenbergs hired renowned architect, A. Quincy Jones to design their home. A signature of this midcentury gem is Jones’s pink pyramid roof. The design mimics the pink glow of the mountains at sunrise and sunset. William Haines was hired to do the interiors. The home remains largely furnished as it was when the Annenbergs lived there. One such example is Auguste Rodin’s “Eve” which greets you when you enter.
Completed in 1966 the Annenbergs lived there throughout their lives. After Annenberg’s death, the home reopened to the public in 2012. There is now a visitor center to welcome guests coming for tours.
In addition to being open to the public, Sunnylands also serves as a retreat center. The key focuses of their programming are Global Cooperation, Democratic Institutions, and Global Health and Food. For example, eight retreats have been held since 2015, during which leaders in science, academia, business, medical ethics, the judiciary, government, and scientific publishing explored ways to increase the integrity of science and articulate the ethical principles that should guide scientific practice to ensure that science works at the frontiers of human knowledge in an ethical way.


While COVID has curtailed interior tours, there are several ways you can still enjoy the estate. For instance, take a landscape tour: a guided, 45-minute shuttle ride throughout the 200-acre estate. The tour features Sunnylands’ landscape, outdoor sculpture, nine-hole golf course, and sustainability efforts. Another example of how to enjoy the estate during COVID is an estate bird walk with an experienced local birder for this 90-minute birding walk.
Sunnylands will open for three new tours on November 11, 2020. For information on the tours, follow this link.
I can’t wait to take the new tours and for Sunnylands to be able to open again. It’s a gem of the Coachella Valley. I hope you can visit as well. If you are out to Valley and would like to see other midcentury properties, please reach out to me. I will be happy to help you.

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