The City of Mission Viejo is a large master-planned community located in the Saddleback Valley in South Orange County. Mission Viejo is bordered by Lake Forest, Trabuco Canyon, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, and Rancho Santa Margarita. The Mission Viejo profile includes city history and information for residential services, shopping, dining, and points of interest throughout the city.
|City of Mission Viejo, California|
|About Mission Viejo
||History||Things to Do|
|City Statistics||Information & Services||Schools & Libraries|
About Mission Viejo
Mission Viejo is a primarily residential community with a moderate population of office parks and local businesses. There are approximately two parks per square mile, offering plenty of green space and nature for residents of the city. The Walk, Hike, Bike MV program presents more than 20 miles of recreational trails through green spaces in Mission Viejo including Arroyo Trabuco Trail, Oso Creek Trail, and Wilderness Glen, offering a fantastic selection of hiking trails for residents to explore and enjoy the outdoors. Lake Mission Viejo lies in the center of the city and is a private recreational facility designated for use by residents of eligible home owners and renters located within the Lake Mission Viejo Association boundaries. Lake Mission Viejo offers a variety of activities for members including special annual events, fishing, boating, and more.
Mission Viejo is one of the largest single-project master planned communities in the United States, drafted by Donald Bren, Chairman of the Irvine Company. The 11,000 acre community was designed with houses placed strategically on the hills and the roads in the valleys, to make the best use of the contours of the hilly land.
While the city is mostly residential, there are a few major businesses in the area offering employment opportunities to community residents including Mission Hospital, Saddleback College, Capistrano Unified School District, and the headquarters for Marie Callender’s Restaurants. There are two major shopping districts in the area including The Shops At Mission Viejo and Kaleidoscope Center.
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Mission Viejo History
Mission Viejo was once part of Rancho Mission Viejo, a 53,000 acre land parcel from the King of Spain. The ranch land was purchased by John Forster, and then the O’Neill Family. The O’Neills have owned and operated the ranch since 1907. Descendants of the O’Neill family still live on the land and operate the ranch. The hilly landscape made it an unpopular area for farming, so the land was used mostly for grazing sheep and cattle. The O’Neill family decided to sell a portion of their land in 1963 – an 11,000 acre parcel that would go on to become the master planned community of Mission Viejo.
In 1965, the population of Mission Viejo was still zero. The first homes were offered at a sale price of $21,000. Residents began moving into the neighborhood in 1966 and by 1968, the population hit 6,500. By 1980, the population of Mission Viejo exceeded 50,000. The master planned community had opened several community and recreational centers, nature areas, and parks, and established many special annual traditions like the St. Patrick’s Day and Fourth of July Parades, the Tour De Mission Viejo Bike Race, Mission Viejo Days, the Halloween Haunted House, and the Mission Viejo Christmas Program.
In 1984, Los Angeles hosted the Olympic Games. The Cycling Road Race portion of the Olympic events was held in Mission Viejo, and several members of the Nadadores Swim Team have participated in Olympic Events throughout the years.
Mission Viejo Statistics
Size: Approximately 18 Square Miles
Population: 95,516 (2019)
Things to Do in Mission Viejo
Arts & Culture:
- Art Classes
- Oso Creek Trail
- Saddleback College Arts
- Saddleback College Fine Arts & Theater
- South County Performing Arts
Mission Viejo Community:
- Community Classes & Recreational Programs
- Community Events
- Community Events & Registration
- Community Parks
- Community Resources (Youth Sports Leagues, Scouts, etc.)
- La Paws Dog Park
- Middle School Enrichment
- Military & Veteran Services
- Norman P. Murray Community & Senior Center
- Senior Programs & Services
- Teen Scene
- Walk, Hike, Bike MV
- Beebe Park Skate Park
- DEFY Orange County
- Geocaching at Mission Viejo Parks
- Lake Mission Viejo
- Laser Quest
- PlayLive Nation
- Saddleback Lanes
- The Shops at Mission Viejo
Information & Services
Schools & Libraries
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, an expert at exploring all that Orange County has to offer, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.