This 200-acre former estate of publishing magnate and UK ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Lenore, dubbed Sunnylands, lets you peek into a lifestyle of the uber-rich and connected. The couples’ glass-walled 25,000-square-foot home is a mid-century modern masterpiece that showcases a notable art collection. Though many of the Annenberg’s original pieces are now on display in museums, outstanding replicas let you get a sense of how dizzyingly fabulous is—you’ll find works by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, and other masters. The artistic style unfolds in Sunnylands’ extensive gardens too—many are landscaped in sweeping bands of color to evoke Impressionist art. The garden is also home to many local and migratory bird species; once a week (Fridays at 8:45 a.m., October – May) a free bird walk is led by knowledgeable birders.
While you can stroll through the 1.25 miles of garden paths for no charge, you must sign up well in advance to purchase a ticket for a guided tour of the house. (It’s worth the wait.) In addition to the artworks, you can peruse the dozens of photographs displayed on the walls—look for familiar faces of presidents, celebrities, and royalty in many of them, a glimpse into the lofty social circles that the Annenbergs inhabited. In fact, the Rancho Mirage property, nicknamed the “West Coast Camp David,” still serves as a meeting place for global leaders. A museum, a theater, and an indoor/outdoor cafe (with stunning views of the San Jacinto Mountains) are also housed in striking glass buildings. Note: Both the house and gardens are closed in August.