Things to Do in Rancho Mirage, California
Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert, located at 71-701 Gerald Ford Dr., Rancho Mirage, is a family-oriented museum dedicated to providing an environment where children’s intellectual curiosity and self-expression can be freely expressed through play. Inventive and interactive exhibits and programs encourage children to learn about themselves and the world around them.
Founded in 1986 by local residents, the museum is now located on a 6-acre site that was donated by American publisher, philanthropist, and diplomat Walter Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, December through September 1. From September 2 to November 30, it is closed every Monday, but open regular hours every other day. For more information, call (760) 321-0602 or visit www.cdmod.org.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
The Living Desert is an AZA-accredited family-friendly zoo and gardens which is located at 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert.
It specializes in caring for and displaying desert animals from all over the world, all of whom face challenges to survival and have developed a multitude of adaptations to endure the harsh conditions.
While most widely known for its native and exotic animals and desert gardens, the Living Desert also hosts popular annual events and festivities like Mardi Paws, Brew at the Zoo and Howl-O-Ween, to name a few.
In 2015 The Living Zoo received TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice Award for Amusement Parks, Water Parks, Zoos and Aquariums. This is the travel website’s highest accolade which is only bestowed on the top one percent of properties, based on guest reviews.
Admission ranges from $9.95 for children to $19.95 for adults. The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., October through May and 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., June through September.
For more information, call (760) 346-5694 or visit www.livingdesert.org.
Sunnylands Center and Gardens
During the mid-1960s, Walter and Leonore Annenberg hired architect A. Quincy Jones to create a mid-century modern residence in Rancho Mirage which they named “Sunnylands”. Walter Annenberg was a renowned publisher and served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1969 to 1974. Jones was known both for designs that integrated houses into the landscape and for “statement” roofs.
At Sunnylands, located at 37977 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage, Jones used overhangs to shield the interior from the direct sun, plus walls of glass to allow the climate’s brightness to fill Ý the rooms. Interior rooms flow into each other with an open expansiveness that mirrors the surrounding landscape.
As with most mid-century modern buildings, the house features an exposed architectural structure with trellises, steel beams and coffered ceilings playing an important part in its look. Walls are made of Mexican lava stone and the iconic pyramid roof was created in pink to match the sunset glow on nearby foothills. It is considered to be the only purely modernist estate in the United States.
A 90-minute Historic House Tour offers guests information about the Sunnylands Collection, the building’s architecture and interior design and the history of the estate as a private residence and a high-level retreat center. Tickets are $40 per person and are released in half-month blocks on the first and 15th of every month at 9 a.m. for tours scheduled two weeks later. They must be purchased in advance online. None are available on-site.
Specialized estate tours focusing on birds ($35 per person) and the 200-acre estate’s grounds and golf course ($20 per person) are also available. These tours do not take guests into the house. Tickets for these tours can only be purchased in person on the day of the tour. First come, first served. For information, call (760) 202-2222 or visit www.sunnylands.org.
The McCallum Theatre, located at 73000 Fred Waring Dr., Palm Desert, is a state-of-the-art theater which hosts everything from Broadway shows, to symphony performances to traveling top-rated musical groups, dance troupes, singers and comedians. The list of recent and upcoming bookings rivals the rosters of major performing arts venues in the nation’s largest cities.
In addition, the McCallum Theatre Institute, the theater’s education division, has served over 400,000 students, educators and community members with performances and arts education experiences since its launch in 1997.
For more information about upcoming appearances, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com or call (760) 340-2787.
Tolerance Education Center
The Tolerance Education Center is the brainchild and life’s work of Earl Greif, a Holocaust survivor and Rancho Mirage resident. For obvious reasons, he is passionate about educating young people on the topic of tolerance, so he spearheaded the effort to raise money and see the Center built.
Its exhibits range from the Holocaust, to discrimination against and persecution of African Americans, gays and lesbians, Native Americans and other groups. Bigotry in all of its forms is examined. The Tolerance Education Center also boasts a research center and a theater where films on the subject of intolerance are often shown.
Located at 35-147 Landy Ln., Rancho Mirage, the Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. During the 2014-15 academic year, over 6,500 students from 107 area schools visited the Center and benefited from its message of tolerance.
For more information, call (760) 328-8252 or visit www.toleranceeducationcenter.org.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tramcar, you will experience a breathtaking journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. Begin the 10-minute ride at the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 feet) and end at the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet). This is a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Tramway was completed in 1963 and modernized with the rotating tramcars in 2000.
Tickets range in price from $16.95 for children to $24.95 for adults. Ride and dine tickets which allow you to dine in the Pines Café cafeteria at the top are also available, as are summer and annual passes. A more formal dining spot, the Peaks Restaurant, is also available, as is The Lookout Lounge, a full cocktail bar.
Palm Springs Art Museum
Established in 1938, the Palm Springs Art Museum includes three locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. The flagship building is located in downtown Palm Springs and features compelling special art exhibitions, a vast permanent collection, and the 433-seat Annenberg Theater, all in a 150,000-square-foot, architecturally significant building. Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion features exhibitions and programming that explore the topics of architecture and design. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert is a Silver LEED-certified building named The Galen that presents rotating exhibitions and special collections. It is surrounded by the four-acre Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden featuring important sculpture works. Admission to the Palm Desert location is free to the public. Admission to the other locations varies. For more information, call (760) 322-4800 or visit www.psmuseum.org.
Rancho Mirage Public Library
One of the top-rated public libraries in the state of California, the Rancho Mirage Public Library is the place to go no matter what kind of information or entertainment you are seeking. Its collection features everything from a database full of independent films, to legal forms to audiobooks, conventional books, digital magazines, genealogy tools and much more.
The library is also known for its diverse offering of programs, events and exhibits, including music from top performers, engaging lectures, film discussions, family fun and programs that showcase the community. All are designed to broaden one’s horizons.
The Rancho Mirage Public Library is located at 71-100 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage. For information, call (760) 341-7323 or visit www.ranchomiragelibrary.org.
Serving the needs of the visually impaired in Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial Counties, Braille Institute’s Rancho Mirage Center, located at 70-251 Ramon Rd., offers educational, social and recreational programs to the visually impaired.
For more information, call (760) 321-1111 or visit www.brailleinstitute.org/ranchomirage.
Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre
CVRep is a not-for-profit professional theater company. It is the only theater in the Coachella Valley that has Small Professional Theatre (SPT) status with Actors’ Equity.
CVRep presents many different performing-arts related special events including staged readings, cabaret and classical music concerts, dance performances and luminary luncheons. They always have surprises on the horizon, including some highly renowned artists from stage, screen and television.
CVRep is located at the Atrium 69930 Highway 111, Suite 116. For information, call (760) 296-2966 or visit www.cvrep.org.
World Class Golf
The reputation as “Playground of Presidents” is well-earned, as many Commanders in Chief have teed up here, from Eisenhower to Obama and those in between. The iconic Tamarisk Country Club debuted in 1952, with Ben Hogan as their golf pro. In fact, Rancho Mirage literally started as a Country Club. As interest and population grew, so did the city. From professional golfers to Hollywood elite to the novice, it’s truly memorable to hit the links on one of these extraordinary public or private landmark courses.
Public Golf Courses
Rancho Las Palmas Golf Course
42000 Bob Hope Dr.
Westin Mission Hills-Pete Dye Resort Course
71333 Dinah Shore Dr.
Westin Mission Hills North-Gary Player Signature Course
70705 Ramon Rd.