In Saddleback Valley is the city of Mission Viejo, home to about 100,000 residents. A master-planned community, it was designed with all the needs of its residents in mind to make it a great place to live. Most of the city’s 18 square miles are residential, but there are still natural spaces, recreational areas, and shopping destinations to visit in the city as well.
The city began as Rancho Mission Viejo, a grazing space for cattle that was considered too difficult to develop because of its hilly landscape. It stayed that way for many years, until the 1970’s when urban planner Donald Bren of the Irvine Company utilized the landscape to design the city’s infrastructure and layout, making it soon into a highly sought after community known for its scenery and location.
Address: 555 The Shops At Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
This shopping destination in Mission Viejo has all the basics any locals or visitors might need for a day out in search of gifts for yourself or others. Mainstays including Apple, Bath and Body Works, Dick’s Sporting Goods, J. Crew, Gap, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and more are in this indoor Simon Mall. Other notable stores are Lush, Build-A-Bear, Lego, Swarovski, Williams-Sonoma, and Tesla. Dining locations inside the mall include Cheesecake Factory, Chipotle, P.F. Chang’s, and Ruby’s Diner. This spacious center with a sizable dining pavilion is a great place to beat the heat in the summer or catch up on shopping during the holidays.
Address: 25222 El Paseo, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Kids and adults alike can enjoy this massive trampoline park featuring plenty of fun activities. Aside from the trampolines, there are battle beams, foam pits, an extreme dodgeball area, a ninja obstacle course, and a zipline. For the more experienced jumpers there are “super tramps” that give you the boost for more advanced tricks. For the youngest guests, parents can accompany their children on the trampolines for free on weekdays until noon. Tickets can be bought for one time visits or you can get a monthly membership, providing daily access to all the activities that DEFY has to offer.
Address: 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Running through Oso Creek Valley is the Oso Creek Trail, totaling 5.5 miles and lined with greenery. It is a peaceful, low-difficulty path that makes for a relaxing nature stroll or scenic workout location. Aside from views of the creek, one can also see the art installed along the pathway including mosaic history walls, butterfly paintings, community murals, and the Peace Obelisk sculpture honoring the victims of 9/11. Volunteers from neighboring communities have planted thousands of plants along the trail, creating a butterfly garden and plant maze that visitors can appreciate for years to come.
Address: 24002 Vía Fabricante #206, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Escape rooms are a fun and challenging group activity that has taken off in the last several years around the country, and Orange County is no exception. Nerdy by Nature Escape Rooms contains two intricately decorated themed rooms, one called “The Initiation” where guests search for the truth about the Illuminati, and a pirate treasure hunt room called “The Lost Treasure of Captain Blackbeard.” Groups can range from 3-10 players, with prices at an affordable $30-35 for an hour of challenging gameplay.
Live Oak Trail at Upper Oso Reservoir
Address: 16 Chisholm Trail, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679
Beginning at the northern edge of Mission Viejo near the Upper Oso Reservoir, the Live Oak Canyon Trail is a 3 mile moderate difficulty path that goes up into the hills of Rancho Santa Margarita. The trail leads uphill to Vista Point, a scenic outlook from which you can see the hills and surrounding areas clearly. The path leads through fields of grasses, wildflowers (when in season) and cacti.
Address: 22056 Olympiad Rd, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Perfect for young aspiring athletes, the Marty Russo Youth Athletic Park is the place to go for activity space or sports games. The 41 acre park contains a whopping eight baseball fields, five soccer or football fields, four batting cages, plenty of picnic space, and two barbecue areas. Some of the sports fields are lit for night time games, as the park is open until 11 p.m. daily. Special events are also held at this park including movie nights and a fireworks show for the Fourth of July.
Address: Camino Largo, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Dedicated to Sergeant Matt Davis who died in the line of duty in 2002, this 6-acre park has two colorful playgrounds, a walking trail and picnic space. The park is bordered by undeveloped land, providing a clear sightline to the mountains and the nearby creek below. The walking path leads around the park through landscaped gardens and clusters of trees. The park’s large lawn space is also great for lounging and enjoying the view, giving visitors plenty of options within the park for enjoying a day outdoors.
Address: 27301 La Paz Road, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Artists of all ages and all experience levels can utilize studio space and book art classes at the Potocki Center for the Arts. Classes teach subjects including painting, knitting, drawing, sculpture, and even music! The space is very family-friendly, with weekly family days where kids and parents can explore different mediums. Founded in 2018, this space is a great community asset that improves access to all art forms affordably in the Mission Viejo community. Keep an eye on their event calendar to reserve spots in classes or find out about their concerts or other special events.
|City of Mission Viejo||Orange County Golf Courses|
|Orange County Skateparks||Shopping Centers in Orange County|
|Orange County Breweries||Orange County Reserved Seating Theaters|
Leilani Reyes is a freelance writer, artist, and all-around creative living in Long Beach, CA. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, now she is in search of her next great life adventure.