Check Out Queen Califia's Magical Circle

Off The Beaten Path in Escondido

By Courtney Daly-Pavone October 16, 2019

For years I heard about Queen Califia's Magical Circle through the pipeline.  This sculpture garden is located inside Kit Carson Park , a 12-acre natural habitat in EscondidoIt is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by artist Niki de Saint Phalle (born France, 1930-2002). 

Saint Phalle is one of the most significant female sculptures of the 20th century.

Queen Califia's Magical Circle is a great place to visit. There are nine freestanding sculptures in the garden including Queen Califia standing on the back of a five-legged eagle in the center of the garden. 

Did you know that California was named after the Amazonian goddess Queen Califia? 

Saint Phalle was fascinated by mythology. The sculptures are covered with symbols and forms drawn from Native American, Pre-Columbian, and Mexican art as well as the artist's own imagination.

My son loved The "snake wall" which opens into a maze. The walls and floors are covered with black, white, and mirrored tiles. The gardens sculptures bear distinctive ornamentation. Semi precious gemstones, agate, quartz and turquoise. Stones like travertine, and hermatite, and shells like abalone, (to name a few) adorn the sculptures. At every glance we noticed something new, unique, and were positively mesmerized.

Not only is Queen Califia's Magical Circle awe inspiring, it is like something out of a dream. I still can't believe I visited the circle, and that it's sitting in Escondido. Saint Phalle's sculptures are also at The Stravinsky Fountain in Paris, in the Tarot Garden in Florence

The Evolution of Queen Califia's Magical Garden

Nikki Saint Phalle lived in several countries during her lifetime, but she spent the last twenty years of her life in La Jolla. She passed away on May 21, 2002, at the age of 71. Her family and assistants finished Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, and it opened to the public in late 2003.

You can see more Saint Phalle's sculptures in San Diego: The Nikkigator outside the Mingei Museum in Liberty Station, and three of her sculptures are located at Waterfront Park, the family-friendly open air plaza along the North Embarcadero in downtown San Diego. 

Admission is always FREE

Queen Califia's Magical Circle is open to the public Tuesday and Thursday, 9 am to 12pm, weather permitting. 

The Garden is open to the public on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month, from 9 am to 2 pm.

The Garden is closed on weekday holidays. 

Location: Kit Carson Park 3333 Bear Valley Parkway Escondido, CA 92025

Tel. (760) 839-4000