By Christopher Smith
10:00 AM PDT, June 7, 2013
President Obama and China's President Xi Jinping will meet this weekend at Sunnylands, the 200-acre Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage. It has hosted five decades of political and Hollywood luminaries behind its pink walls.
It opened to the public in March 2012. Consider this 20,000-square-foot dwelling, set in a far-as-the-eye-can-see expanse of golf course green, as a latter-day incarnation of the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, R.I. Inside the house, digital reproductions of the Annenbergs' $1-billion-plus Impressionist art collection compete for space on the few walls not made of glass.
The bed. The Westin Mission Hills Resort (71333 Dinah Shore Drive;  328-5955) addresses family demands with two 18-hole golf courses that wind through the complex, as well as two sizable, kid-centric pool areas and about 25 cabanas for rent. As June and July temperatures increase, prices drop and stays in the standard "traditional rooms" dip into the two-figure-a-night range.
The meal. Acqua Pazza (71800 Highway 111, A167;  862-9800) at the River shopping plaza has a sizable indoor room and 60-plus seats on an outdoor waterfront terrace. The casual grill aims to satisfy many appetites, with salads, pizzas, Mexican offerings and burgers. Vegans will find 25 dishes and salads, while the gluten-intolerant have a half-page menu from which to choose.
The find. The Tulip Hill Winery (71800 Highway 111, A125;  568-5678) is the real deal, the Coachella Valley's only wine-tasting room. Finds among the 1-ounce tasting pours are a crisp 2008 Chardonnay and a buoyant 2009 Montepulciano-Cabarnet blend. Wines by the bottle are available.
The lesson learned. Tickets for the Sunnylands residence and estate tour are scarce; tours are offered Thursdays to Sundays, with just 10 90-minute tours a day, seven people per tour. Tickets must be ordered in advance, online only, on a first-click-wins basis beginning at 9 a.m. on the 1st and 15th of each month. Each allotment so far has been snatched up within 10 minutes of going online. If you are shut out of a ticket, the stroll-worthy desert gardens behind the visitor center are free and open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays, except in August, when Sunnylands closes.
The tab. Aside from the half-tank of gas used in driving to and from Rancho Mirage, the trip cost less than $225: hotel, $149; dinner $31 with tip; wine tasting, $6; and Sunnylands tour, $35.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times