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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Palm Springs Resident Shares Things to See in the City of Rancho Mirage


Plant in front, then a pond with fountain and buildings in the background of the Eisenhower Health Complex
Eisenhower Health Center in Rancho Mirage Serving Coachella Valley Photo by Kathy Condon

Rancho Mirage is often thought of as more of a place to live than to visit for attractions. Digging deeper, I found a list you might want to use to explore this city located in the center of Coachella Valley. All the attractions I mention are within the confines of Rancho Mirage's 25 square miles.


Rancho Mirage is one of nine cities in Coachella Valley. Read my explanation of the nine cities.


Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Building in background on the left yellow flowers and trees at Sunnylands Gardens
Sunnylands Center and Gardens in Rancho Mirage Photo by Kathy Condon

1. Sunnylands Center and Gardens

If you asked me what is not to be missed in the entire Coachella Valley, I would reply that it is a visit to Sunnylands. Yet, when I query local residents, I am always surprised how few have visited this beautiful oasis in our desert community.


Sunnylands Center and Gardens is located on Ambassador Walter and Lenore Annenberg's 200-acre estate. At their passing, the estate was turned over to the City of Rancho Mirage with a hefty foundation to ensure its accessibility to the public through its $32 million education building.


Today, it is often called the White House of the West, for all presidents since Eisenhower, except Trump, have stayed here and used it for significant retreats and conferences. The house itself is only accessible by tickets, which sell out rapidly. The Education Building and the surrounding grounds have no admission.


For me, it is a place of tranquility. Whether I decide to walk the labyrinth or sit on a bench under one of the trees in the immense garden, I cannot help but feel calmness flowing over me. If I decide I want a bite to eat, the small cafeteria will help cure the hunger pains. Or if I need a special gift, the adjacent gift shop has unusual gifts for all ages.


In my view, when you need to slow down and relax, there is no better place. Sign up for their newsletter Behind the Pink Wall to watch for their events, such as movies on the green in May and October. It is closed from mid-June through mid-September.


You can read about my experiences picking olives on the grounds here.

In the distance is two domes that house the telescopes in the observatory. A tree on the left frames the picture.
Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory Photo by Kathy Condon

2. Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory

Located on the grounds of the Rancho Mirage Library is the Rancho Mirage Observatory, which was dedicated in 2018. We have long been able to see the various galaxies. However, urban lights are starting to interfere, causing the stars' lights to dim.


Now, with the Rancho Mirage Observatory and the help of an assigned astrologer, we can view the galaxies with a magnificent, powerful telescope. Check out their website for tour dates, times, and special events.


3.      The City of Rancho Mirage Thrift Shopping

You won't want to miss Collector's Corner, Coachella Valley's Premier Thrift Shop. It truly is a treasure hunter's paradise. A professional staff, supplemented with volunteers, runs it for the Eisenhower Health Dolores Hope Auxiliary. The Eisenhower Health Center is the recipient of funds.


The clothing is pristine. Men's and women's clothing are available, but no children's clothing. Furniture for every room in your home is available at outstanding prices. If you need household items, head upstairs, where you will find organized sections of everything from picture frames to bedspreads.

A stage at night with a concert by musicians--in front shows the audience seated. A night photo
Rancho Mirage Community Park Photo Courtesy of Rancho Mirage

4. Work out at the Rancho Mirage Community Park

Parents, there is a shaded playground, and wood chips offer a safe landing if mishaps occur. Plenty of benches are scattered throughout the area, so it is easy to keep everyone in sight. Courts are available for tennis or pickleball.


Enjoy a desert evening, and head to the Rancho Mirage Community Park amphitheater. This 1,000-seat arena routinely has concerts during the season, which runs from around October 1 to May 1 each year. You will want to check the Park's website to keep abreast of performances.

A bag of toffee with Brandini Toffee label tied with a black bow
Brandini Toffee Made in Rancho Mirage Photo by Kathy Condon

5. Brandini Toffee Made in Rancho Mirage

If you haven't heard, Brandini Toffee was developed by two then-teenagers who wanted to raise funds for a trip to Europe. The brand is so well-known that it has found its way into Oscar recipients' gift bags.


It is fun to order a toffee shake and watch the toffee being made through the glass windows. We view it as the perfect gift to take our friends for a special treat. Plus, their popcorn is addictive—just the right amount of toffee dribble to make it so good.


6. Frank Sinatra Developed Michael S. Wolfson Park

My daughter and I were exploring the Valley when we stumbled across Michael S. Wolfson Park at the intersection of Frank Sinatra and Davall. Frank Sinatra was instrumental in constructing it to honor a former City of Mirage Council Member and Planning Commissioner, Michael S Wolfson.


It's a Victorian-like garden with a fountain, lush plants, and numerous benches. We were particularly impressed by its signs in braille. Since it is a dog-friendly park, one can assume this is great for meeting friends while letting their dogs enjoy the outdoors.

Animal rust-colored sculpture in the right foreground. In the background the entrance to the Children's Discovery Museum
Children's Discover Museum of the Desert Photo by Kathy Condon

7. The Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert

The Children's Discovery Museum is again open to the community's delight. Closed during the pandemic, the board, staff, and volunteers used the time to plan an even more creative and educational environment for children.


With over 50 interactive exhibits, there is a wide variety of possibilities to help children learn and exercise those growing muscles. It's an excellent place for families to explore together. Day camps organized for ages up to 10 can help entertain children on Coachella Valley's hot summer days.

A view of water at The River in Rancho Mirage with flower pots in the water.
The River at Rancho Mirage Photo by Kathy Condon

8. The River at Rancho Mirage is Flourishing

Once languishing, this beautiful area on an artificial pond along Highway 111 again attracts people to shop, dine, and relax with open-air concerts. The new management looked at the area differently and routinely brings in special events.


The River at Rancho Mirage is a great halfway point in the Valley for meeting people. You can meet for a movie at the Cinemark Century at the River and XD or have a cocktail at one of the many restaurants.


Frankly, getting an ice cream cone and sitting on the water's edge as the sun sets over the nearby mountains, one cannot help but marvel at the beautiful world around her.

Blue andge purple lights surround the performer on sta
Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa The Show Venue Photo by Kathy Condon

9. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage

If you are ready for some gambling, the Aqua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage looms large over the desert landscape right off Highway 10. This is the perfect spot if you come in at the Palm Springs International Airport and decide you don't want to travel around—no need to move if you don't want to.

There are pools and seven restaurants where you can dine in casual and formal atmospheres. There is every form of gambling you would like to try or you can be entertained at The Show. Plus, the resort hotel accommodations are superb, with

excellent customer service.

A walkway leading up the resort with palm trees on the left and the resort in the distance.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage Photo by Kathy Condon

10. Beautiful Resorts are Found in Rancho Mirage

Besides the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, we have four other lovely full-service resorts in the City of Rancho Mirage.



I trust I have shown you the City of Rancho Mirage offers a variety of opportunities to appreciate our 340 days of sunshine each year. It welcomes snowbirds and is an excellent location to relax on a weekend getaway. I didn't even mention the outstanding restaurants. However, be assured the cuisine in Rancho Mirage will hold some delightful surprises, too.

Kathy Condon in white shirt and large gold beads
Kathy Condon Journalist and Travel Writer

Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and exploring communities living in the shadows of large metropolitan areas.   760-902-3094

 

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