Great news, Escondido!
Queen Califia's Magical Circle is making its return and re-opening to the public. COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place and masks will be required.
Normal operating hours:
- Tuesdays - 9 a.m. - noon
- Thursdays - 9 a.m. - noon
- 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month - 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Holiday Hours: The exhibit will be closed on the following holidays:
- November 25 (Thanksgiving)
- December 25 (Christmas)
THE EXHIBIT IS NOT OPEN WHEN IT IS RAINING OR WHEN THERE IS PUDDLING FROM A RAIN WITHIN THE LAST 24-48 HOURS.
Queen Califia's Magical Circle will be open to the public Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon, weather permitting. The Garden will be closed on weekday holidays. The Garden will also be open to the public on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with docents available to answer questions. Information, including hours and directions, can be obtained by calling (760) 839-4000.
Located in the Iris Sankey Arboretum
Kit Carson Park
3333 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92025
Queen Califia's Magical Circle is located in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Escondido's Kit
Carson Park. The park's entrance is five minutes from the Via Rancho Parkway exit of I-15 at
the intersection of Bear Valley Parkway and Mary Lane; then follow signs to parking
Volunteer Opportunity at Queen Califia
Information on Kit Carson Park, including a map
Queen Califia's Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by Niki de Saint Phalle (born France, 1930-2002). Inspired by California's mythic, historic and cultural roots, the garden consists of nine large-scale sculptures, a circular "snake wall" and maze entryway, sculpturally integrated bench seating, and native shrubs and trees planted within the interior plaza and along the outer perimeter. The garden bears the brilliant, unique mosaic ornamentation that is an unmistakable part of Saint Phalle's later work.
Queen Califia's Magical Circle is situated within a 12-acre natural habitat in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Kit Carson Park on a parcel of land donated by the City of Escondido. The park's entrance is located five minutes from I-15 (Via Rancho Parkway Exit) at the corner of Bear Valley Parkway and Mary Lane.
The sculpture garden's key architectural features are an undulating circular wall measuring 400 feet in length (with varying heights from 4 to 9 feet) that surrounds the garden. Monumental playful serpents, decorated in colorfully patterned mosaics, slither along the top of the wall, their curved bodies forming a pattern of solids and voids that allows visitors to see landscape vistas beyond the garden. The "snake wall" opens into a maze whose walls and floors are covered with black, white, and mirrored tiles. Once through the maze, visitors enter into the central courtyard.
There are nine freestanding sculptures in the garden. The imposing mosaic sculpture of Queen Califia standing on the back of a five-legged eagle commands the center of the garden. Eight large totemic sculptures surround Queen Califia. They are covered with symbols and forms freely drawn from Native American, Pre-Columbian, and Mexican art as well as the artist's own fantastic imagery.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Guthrie