Escondido Points of Interest

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park until 2010, is a 1,800-acre zoo located near Escondido in San Diego, California. It is one of San Diego County’s most popular tourist destinations. The park is home to a diverse collection of wild and endangered creatures from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Australia, among other countries. The Africa Tram, which explores the huge African displays, is one of the park’s most notable features, which is located in a semi-arid setting. Antelopes, giraffes, buffalo, cranes, and rhinoceros live in these free-range enclosures. The park is also known for its California condor breeding program, which is the most successful of its kind in the country. The park, which attracts over 2 million visitors each year, is home to over 2,600 animals representing over 300 species, as well as 3,500 plant types. The park employs between 400 and 600 people depending on the season. The park also serves as a quarantine facility for zoo animals brought into the United States via San Diego. The park is home to the largest veterinary facility in the world.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

California’s rich history and culture inspired the garden, which is named after Califia, the fabled warrior queen of the mythical Island of California. It features a circular enclosure, a mosaic-tiled maze entryway, 10 big sculptures, and native trees and shrubs planted both inside and outside the plaza. For guest comfort, three long benches with travertine marble and river rocks, designed by Pierre Marie LeJeune, are given.

The garden was opened to the public on October 26, 2003, as part of a 12-acre (4.9 hectare) habitat in Kit Carson Park’s Iris Sankey Arboretum.

[The sculpture garden is only open a few days a week, and it is closed for 24–48 hours after inclement weather.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden and Niki de Saint Phalle’s final significant worldwide project before her death in 2002.

The mosaic-covered work features the artist’s distinctive patterns, including sensuous female figures, hybrid animals, and mystical symbols.  Saint Phalle’s brilliant color choices help to bring her work to life; her color choices and art work acted as a type of therapy for her, allowing her to cope with the traumas she had encountered throughout her life.

The Califia tale, as well as California’s myths and history, provided inspiration for this work.

[Reading about this mythology in Assembling California, a book by Pulitzer Prize winner John McPhee about the geologic history of California, inspired the artist.

The semi-rural setting of Escondido, California was chosen as the garden’s location to precisely set the tone.

[To develop and maintain the sculpture garden, the little city of Escondido collaborated with the artist.

Although not part of the project, a wire fence was constructed to keep guests away from damaged mosaic pieces so that they may safely enjoy all features of the garden.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle has been named one of San Diego’s cultural icons by the Coast News.

Dixon Reservoir (Escondido)

Dixon Lake, sometimes known as Dixon Reservoir, is a tiny man-made reservoir located in Escondido, California. It’s known for producing the world’s largest largemouth bass.

Picnics, camping, and fishing are all popular at Dixon Lake. Fishing licenses are no longer necessary because the state of California Department of Fish and Wildlife gave the lake an Aquaculture Permit.  A daily lake fishing permit, available at the concession stand, is required for all anglers aged eight and up. Bass, bluegill, carp, catfish, crappie, and trout are some of the fish that the city stocks throughout the year. Dixon Lake hosts the annual Trout Derby every year. It contains a marina and boat launch, and is close to the Daley Ranch conservation area.

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