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City of Laguna Hills

Laguna Hills is one of the smallest cities in Orange County at just under seven square miles. It is relatively new compared to many of the coastal cities in the county, becoming an official city in 1991. The City of Laguna Hills profile includes city history and information for residential services, shopping, dining, and points of interest throughout the city.

City of Laguna Hills, California
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About Laguna Hills

City Of Laguna Hills

The City of Laguna Hills is only 6.6 square miles, and is located in South Orange County, California. Laguna Hills is located approximately 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 74 miles north of San Diego. It is bordered by Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Laguna Woods, Irvine, and Aliso Viejo. The city is predominantly residential and is generally an extension of sister cities Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach.

The city of Laguna Hills does not have any major tourist attractions, but it is located near many popular destinations for both locals and visitors. Laguna Beach is just a short drive away and offers a spectacular stretch of coastline to explore, plus the downtown area is filled with art galleries, shops, and restaurants to enjoy. Laguna is also home of the Sawdust Festival and Pageant Of The Masters, two hugely popular art events that take place annually that attract visitors from all over the state and beyond.

Working residents of Laguna Hills may find work within the city, but many residents commute outside the area. Some commute to nearby surrounding cities like Irvine and Santa Ana. Others commute farther away to destinations like Los Angeles and San Diego. The largest employers within the city of Laguna Hills include MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center, the Laguna Hills mall, and the school district.

Laguna Hills is centrally located to many recreational activities, and there is an abundance of outdoor recreation available nearby. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park offers a nature center and Barbara’s Lake, one of Orange County’s few natural lakes. There are several staging areas here, offering miles of hiking, equestrian, and mountain biking trails to explore. Crystal Cove State Park is also nearby, offering additional opportunities for hiking and biking, plus there are great campsites here, including bluff top coastal view sites, and back-country hike-in sites. Crystal Cove also features plenty of sand to enjoy, tidepools to explore, and a historic district with cabins dating back to the 1920s.

Laguna Hills History

Laguna Hills is built on land that was originally part of Rancho Niguel, a 13,000 acre parcel that was granted to Don Juan Avila during the rancho era. Avila sold the land to Lewis Moulton in 1894, with an additional 9,000 acres. Moulton and his partner Piedra used the land for raising cattle and sheep until it was subdivided in the 1960s. Laguna Hills was not an official city until December 1991. While Laguna Hills is a young city, with the majority of development occurring in modern times, the city has made significant efforts to preserve the geologic history of the area, with sites that date back 18 million years. Fossil Reef Park is one such location where a preserved portion of tropical shell reef can be viewed which contains 48 species of marine fossil vertebrates including shark teeth. The fossil rich deposits were first discovered during the grading of Lake Forest in 1972, and the Laguna Hills discovery was identified in 1973. Fossil Reef Park was designated as a protected prehistoric site in 1982. Costeau Park is also a fossil-rich location, and was once a major fossil site where the bones of many early mammals were discovered. The first find was in 1965 by two high school students. A site study directed by the LA Natural History Museum led to the discovery of the remains of over 42 species including Columbian Mammoths, bison, dire wolves, saber toothed cats, mountain lions, giant ground sloths, and extinct horses and camels. The Laguna Hills Community Center has an extensive collection of fossils on display and a self-guided Paleopack Program for children to explore the exhibit. The Prehistoric Playground outside of the community center plays off the fossil-rich theme and offers a 33-foot bowhead whale skeleton for climbing and replicas of fossilized dinosaurs and other animals throughout the park.

Laguna Hills Statistics

Size: 6.6 Square Miles
Population: 30,831 (2020)

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Heidi Deal
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights. When she's not writing you can find her solo hiking and going on new adventures with her kids and pup.