Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Escondido’s Kit Carson Park is greatly expanding the hours it is open to the public.
Beginning Aug. 9, the sculpture garden will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday, weather permitting. It will also continue to be open from 9 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month.
Docents will be on-site during the Saturday hours to give information and answer questions, but none will be present during the week.
City officials said the new hours are an experiment of sorts, and that if problems such as vandalism arise, things could change. The new hours reflect increasing public demand and interest in the garden.
“The city is excited to be able to add regular weekday hours for the community to explore and enjoy this unique and interactive sculpture garden,” said Jay Petrek, assistant city manager, in a news release.
Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and the last major international project created by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who died in 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, sculptural integrated bench seating and native shrubs and trees planted within the interior plaza and along the outer perimeter.
The garden initially opened in 2003 and immediately became a huge hit. In 2013, however, the city shuttered it for several months because of deterioration and damage from vandalism.
After thousands of dollars in repairs, the site reopened with severely limited hours and city monitors on hand to make sure no destruction could occur.
Kit Carson Park is at 3333 Bear Valley Parkway. Follow the signs in the park to Queen Califia.
Additional information is available at (760) 839-4000 or queencalifia.org.