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City of Mission Viejo

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
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About Mission Viejo

City Of 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.


In 2019, the City of Mission started plans for bikeway and transportation connectivity that links community facilities to the City trail system and, ultimately, the larger regional trail system outside the City limits. The bike trail highlights the Oso Creek Trail system as the central spine of Mission Viejo. The trail runs through the Oso Creek Golf Course linking to the Oso Creek Lake Loop north through Marty Russo Park and continuing north to the Aliso Creek Trail at El Toro Road. The plans also include the potential for a trail connection from the Northern Open Space along the Oso Creek to the Oso Creek Golf Course south, and on to the Core Area Vision Plan area in the Civic Core of the City. Another potential link the plan identifies is south along Olympiad Road through Cordova Park, crossing under Crown Valley Parkway and into the Arroyo Trabuco, ultimately connecting to Avery Parkway and south to San Juan Capistrano.

The following are the plans for the northern recreation area (2-4 years from 2022):

Oso Creek Golf Course

  • Temporary outdoor event space
  • Garden+Grill outdoor cafe on the 10th tee
  • New pedestrian crossing from the Oso Creek Trail in the north open space across Casta Del Sol Road leading to the Oso Creek Golf Course entry

North Recreation Open Space

  • Improved drive access from Casta Del Sol Road down into the north open space
  • A Trails Café and restroom building adjacent to the parking lot
  • A new simple 40-car parking lot at the base of the access road
  • Improved Oso Creek Trail surface and trail amenities

Civic Area Plans:

  • Urban Alley:
    • This will be a central community gathering place and will include enhanced landscape, lighting, paving, seating areas and a cantilevered gathering plaza with views of the Oso Creek and the trail below
    • The Alley will also house new retail spaces oriented towards the Urban Alley to further energize the area and create more opportunities for expanded retail and community gathering
  • CORE: The community’s place to gather and celebrate Cultural, Open Space, Recreation and Entertainment.
  • Event Bridges: Two 150 “Event Bridges” will connect the east and west banks of the Oso Creek Trail and feature small eateries with seating
  • Paseo: The Paseos will be located on the north and south ends of the Civic Core
    • The North Paseo will connect the Civic Center and Library and continue through the parking lot and on to the “MART” dining Pavilion
    • The Paseo will vary in width and include small eateries, recreational activities, water features and a trail to walk or ride a bike
  • The MART: An indoor/outdoor area including the repurposed Steinmart building and will house a collection of unique eateries, coffee shops and one-of-a-kind retail
  • Event Barn: The barn structure will be built as a “flex space” that will include an attached large, shaded overhang and large glass walls that can be opened to the Bridge Plaza and Event Bridges

The City of Mission Viejo created envisionMV and showcases the progress and future plans for the city.

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.

Things to Do in Mission Viejo

Arts & Culture:

Mission Viejo Community:


Information & Services

Residential Services:



Schools & Libraries



Mission Viejo Statistics

Size: Approximately 18 Square Miles
Population: 93,653 (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.