Mission Viejo is an affluent city in southern Orange County, nestled in the tumbling hills of Saddleback Valley. With around 96,300 residents, Mission Viejo is considered one of the largest master-planned communities ever built under a single project in the United States. The city is suburban in nature and mainly residential, albeit there are a few offices and various businesses dispersed throughout. One of Mission Viejo's most distinctive features is the pastoral neighborhoods and its tree-lined streets. The neighborhoods are not only pretty, but safe too; Mission Viejo was actually named the safest city in the United States by the Morgan Quitno crime statistic survey.
The city's name derives from Rancho Mission Viejo, the land grant from which the community originated. Mission Viejo was purchased by a Mexican name John Forster, also known as Don Juan. During the Mexican-American war, he brought the U.S. army horses, which were used on the march of San Diego to reclaim Los Angeles. Back at the time when Forster acquired the area, Mission Viejo was a hilly region mainly used as cattle and sheep grazing land. Due to its geologic complexity, it was one of the last regions of Orange County to be urbanized in fact, in the 1960s, developers dismissed most of the land as un-developable. That statement proved to be wrong however, and in 1980, much of the master-planned community's development was completed by the Irvine Company. During the 1970s and 1980s, houses were actually so desirable that they often sold before even being completely built. Part of the allure was the Spanish mission style architecture of both the homes and the shopping centers, with adobe-like stucco walls and red barrel-tile roofs.
If you happen to get sick, don't worry Mission Viejo boasts the largest hospital in south Orange County, the Mission Hospital. It also offers one of two Children's Hospitals of Orange County.
In terms of recreation, Mission Viejo has you covered. The planners of the city made sure that there was enough green space to go around for everyone, and as a result there are two parks per square mile. In addition, there are three great golf courses: The Mission Viejo Country Club, Casta del Sol Golf Course and the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. There is also a man-made lake in the center of the city, the Lake Mission Viejo. The lake is lined with custom waterfront homes and condominiums, and visitors can rent boats and paddle boards, fish and relax at the swim beaches. There are even occasional events at the lake, like music concerts and movie concerts.
For shopping, head to the Shops at Mission Viejo and the Kaleidoscope Courtyards. Both cater to the upper middle class with various retail and dining establishments, and offer an array of family-oriented facilities and services.