Tucked in southern Orange County, the picturesque city of Mission Viejo is one of the largest master-planned communities in the United States and has an estimated population of 94,000. It is located in the Saddleback Valley and is suburban is culture and nature. Although there are offices and business, the city is mainly residential. The city is renowned for its scenic tree-lined neighborhoods and receives annual recognition from the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The land upon which Mission Viejo is developed was part of the 52,000 acre Rancho Mission Viejo. Ownership dates back to 1769, when a Spaniard named Gaspar de Portola led an expedition from Mexico and claimed the land for Spain. With the land of little use to farmers, the hilly region was used for sheep and cattle grazing land. Because of its geological complexity, it was one of the last areas in Orange County to be developed. A Mexican named John Forster purchased Mission Viejo after the Mexican American War in 1846.
In 1960, many of the early developers felt that the land in Mission Viejo was not developable. However, an urban planner named Donald Bren cleverly drafted a master plan that placed houses on the hills and roads in the valleys. He devised a plan that contoured to the geography of the area, and houses were quickly snatched up. During the 1970s and 1980s, these tracts were in high demand and many of the tracts were sold before construction. Bren was an admirer of Spanish architecture, and most of the shopping centers and homes were designed with a Spanish mission style and included barrel-tile roofs and stucco walls. His building company created some of the developments in Newport Beach and Irvine and also expanded to Arizona and Colorado.
There are many diverse parks, sports fields and open spaces throughout the community. All of the parks offer natural grassy areas with picnic tables, barbecue facilities and playgrounds. A network of trails winds throughout the community for biking, hiking and leisurely strolls. The Mission Viejo Skateboard Facility at Beebe Park is the only park for skateboarding. Its 9,000 square foot facility has a concrete bowl, bauer box, rails, hips, ramps, vertical wall and pyramid.
One of the most popular trails in Mission Viejo is the Oso Creek Trail. This expansive trail system flows from the north of the majestic Santa Ana Mountains and joins Trabuco Creek. Bikers and hikers can take in the wonderful animal and plant life while experiencing the local eco system at work.
In addition to the picturesque Saddleback Valley, residents at Mission Viejo are close to the stunning beaches of California and some of the best theme parks in the world. Less than a half-hour drive away, residents can enjoy the sprawling sands and sparkling waters of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and many more of California’s seaside villages.
The quaint village of Laguna Beach is home to an enclave of art galleries along the shorefront. Visitors can also join in the many watersport activities of the area, including surfing, sailing, jet skiing, swimming and much more. For those who enjoy the surf culture, Huntington Beach features 15-foot waves, surfboard shops and surfing museums.
Nearby Disneyland Park and Knott’s Berry Farm Park are two of the world’s best amusement parks. Old and young marvel at the Disney storybook characters at Disneyland and take in the spectacular shows and enjoy the many rides. Knott’s Berry Farm Park features splashing waterparks, great western shows and boutique shops for western memorabilia.
Living in Mission Viejo offers a quality lifestyle set in beautiful surroundings nestled in Saddleback Valley.