With its community name derived from the Spanish word for “old sycamore,” Aliso Viejo became incorporated in 2001. Although a relatively newer city, the city is grounded in a rich history similar to other Orange County cities. Originally, Aliso Viejo was part of the 22,000 acre Moulton Ranch that was granted to Juan Avila in 1842 by the Mexican government. After the Mexican American War, California was annexed by the United States, and land ownership changed. The Moulton family took ownership in the 1890s. By the 1970s, the Mission Viejo Company purchased the last 6,500 acres to plan a new master community. Slowly, friendlier streetscapes emerged and infrastructure was improved, including new roads, parks, stores and residential homes. The early vision for Aliso Viejo was to create a community that reflected land conservation, energy consciousness and transit friendliness.
Today, Aliso Viejo is home to chic shopping, award-winning schools, cultural entertainment and gourmet dining. With its verdant rolling hillsides, picturesque vistas of the mountains, bubbling streams, valley terrain, open parks and city lights, this beautiful city is a popular place to live. Aliso Viejo has continually ranked as one of the safest cities in the United States and was voted as one of the “Top 25 cities to Live In” by Forbes in 2009.
The city has a balance of community parks, residential neighborhoods, schools and facilities as well as a mix of retail and office venues. Home to several large corporations, the community offers ample employment opportunities and extensive recreational facilities. Locals enjoy the easy access to the Orange Country Trail System. The popular Wood Canyon Wilderness Park is home to many endangered and rare animals and plants, along with running streams, mature oaks, elderberry and sycamore trees. In addition, the park has more than 30 miles of interconnecting trails for mountain biking, hiking and equestrian uses. Bikers and hikers can also use the trails to connect to the Santa Ana Mountains, Dana Point and Laguna Beach. The city features a number of smaller parks with hiking trails and recreational amenities, which create a sense of a close knit community.
The city is ideal for families and has its own aquatic center and one of Orange County’s few year-round indoor ice rinks. The Commons and the Aliso Viejo Town Center are the two primary shopping centers, and there are many larger shopping centers nearby, such as the Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach. For golf enthusiasts, the Aliso Viejo Country Club features an 18-hole championship golf course that is Jack Nicklaus designed.
Aliso Viejo is also less than a half hour from Knott’s Berry Farm and the Santa Ana Zoo. Knott’s Berry Farm is a place of fun for all, old and young. With gut-wrenching rides, splashing waterparks, kid’s rides, specialty shopping and cultural entertainment, there’s something for everyone. Visitors can enjoy the sensational performances by costumed Aztec and Native American musicians and dancers on the Indian Trails stage. Shoppers can take home a piece of the old west with the cowboy hats and leather goods at the Old Ghost Town Shops. Daredevils can take the plunge on La Revolucion that swings rides over six stories high.
A visit to the Santa Ana Zoo is a wildlife adventure. Surrounded by the Pampas Grasslands of South America, guests are surrounded by native plants and waters while viewing the Rheas, Guanacos and Anteaters. Visitors can take the Zoofari Express to patrol the zoo’s grounds and animals. Amazon’s Edge offers an amazing Brazilian jungle experience with its howler monkeys, crested screamers and mallards.
Combining the city’s innate beauty, close-knit community and excellent proximity to the area’s fine cultural amenities, Aliso Viejo has a lifestyle much desired and much envied.