Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Mission Viejo, CA

  • Published 2023/04/13

The city of Mission Viejo is a bedroom community in Saddleback Valley, Orange County.

By definition, Mission Viejo is a suburb with various commercial and industrial establishments alongside its residential neighborhoods.

The community has received distinction from the National Arbor Day Foundation for its tree-lined areas.

The city took its name from a massive Spanish land grant called Rancho Mission Viejo.

It was formerly a Spanish mission before becoming a cattle ranch.

Nowadays, the city offers its inhabitants and visitors a wide range of attractions, including several outdoor locations perfect for taking advantage of the southern California environment.

Despite the county’s reputation as a top tourist destination, Mission Viejo is one of the cities in Orange County that gets less attention than it deserves.

You’d be missing out if you didn’t take the time to discover this hidden gem.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Mission Viejo, California.

Hike the Oso Creek Trail

Scenic view of the Oso Creek Trail

jan j. photography /

Where do you feel most fully alive? Check out the Oso Creek Trail if your answer is the great outdoors.

Its Wave Wall and Butterfly Garden are just two stunning sights along this 5.5-mile-long walk.

Oso Creek Trail is a network of trails for walking, running, and biking that stretches for 5.5 miles along the banks of Oso Creek, resulting from a community-wide effort that began in 1997.

Entrance of the Oso Creek Trail

Nandaro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Over 130,000 varieties of plants, all cared for by volunteers, line the paths of this strolling garden.

The Peace Obelisk remembers the lives lost in the tragedy of 9/11 while a plant maze entertains children.

It also features a hiking and biking track stretching 3.2 miles between Oso Viejo Community Park and Jeronimo Open Space Park.

View of the Oso Creek Trail

Nandaro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Practice Your Skating Skills at Mission Viejo Skateboard Facility

Beebe Park is home to the 9,000-square-foot Mission Viejo Skateboard Facility, surrounded by rolling hills and valleys.

The complex includes various street obstacles and features such as a concrete bowl and vert wall.

Those who have never tried skateboarding before should find this park ideal for their needs.

You may have even more fun with your pals by taking them to the soccer field or the basketball court.

Note that skaters and rollerbladers must comply with a local regulation that mandates using protective gear before entering the park.

Free swimming, lap swimming, and a children’s play area with a waterslide are all available at the park’s Sierra Fitness and Recreation Center.

Bring your skates to the Mission Viejo Skateboard Facility.

Keep Your Body Fit at Marty Russo Youth Athletic Park

To stay fit, you should go to Marty Russo Youth Athletic Park.

Spanning 41.25 acres, the park has everything you need to keep your fitness.

The park’s lit baseball fields, soccer fields, batting cages, football fields, picnic tables, and BBQ area make it perfect for a family outing.

Come here in the mornings to jog or run on the well-maintained tracks.

Take the kids to Marty Russo Youth Athletic Park, where they can run about and have fun in the sun while you shoot hoops with your pals.

Play with Your Kids at Oso Viejo Community Park

The 52-acre Oso Viejo Community Park has football and soccer fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic walking routes.

Admire the meticulously-groomed lawn and bushes around the property.

There are a lot of Pokestops here if you’re still playing Pokemon Go.

The youngsters will love the steep slopes.

It’s a peaceful place, and the park itself is adorable.

The Oso Viejo Community Park is a great place to relax and enjoy nature because of the abundance of chirping birds, buzzing butterflies, and other critters.

Go Boating at Lake Mission Viejo

Stunning view of the Lake Mission Viejo

randy andy /

Most people who visit Mission Viejo go to Lake Mission Viejo, the city’s largest lake.

Over 124 acres of water and 50 acres of land are available for recreational use in this artificial reservoir.

Lake Mission Viejo started by constructing a dam across the canyon of Oso Creek.

It features a full-service marina and boat launching station, picnic areas, and a fishing pier.

People relaxing on the shore of Lake Mission Viejo

randy andy /

It also has two beaches, Playa del Este (East Beach) and Playa del Norte (North Beach).

The lake is accessible all year round, but in the warmer months, when it hosts concerts, it sees a significant increase in visitors.

Private residential communities flank the lake, where visitors may enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, picnics, summer concerts, and lakeside movie nights.

Pedestrian walkway at Lake Mission Viejo

Sandra Foyt /

Take a Stroll at James G. Gilleran Park

A great picnic spot, James G. Gilleran Park spans 15 acres.

It features illuminated baseball and soccer grounds.

You may see many young kids playing baseball on the fields in the evenings, so you know it’s a popular activity there.

The park is also great for hikers, with its simple and beautiful pathways.

At James G. Gilleran Park, you can get some excellent photos of Mission Viejo.

Not only that, but you may come here for a morning stroll and take in the pristine natural beauty.

Let Your Pets Run Free at La Paws Dog Park

La Paws Dog Park, located in the southern part of Gilleran Park, features six acres of a vast green field surrounded by cliffs.

It is ideal for letting your furry companions run about freely and make new canine pals.

They may run up and down the slope of the three acres of ground available.

There are two distinct canine play areas at La Paws Dog Park, one for timid dogs under 30 pounds and another for more dominant dogs of any size.

You can reserve a tenth of an acre of land for your use.

A gravel road dotted with wildflowers provides a pleasant place to stroll with fido while enjoying the area’s scenery.

Shop ’til You Drop at the Shops at Mission Viejo

Any resident or tourist looking to spend a day browsing for souvenirs or presents will find what they need at the Shops at Mission Viejo.

Since its 1979 debut, more than 160 stores have set up shop there.

This indoor Simon Mall features familiar names like Apple, J. Crew, Gap, Macy’s, Bath & Body Works, and more.

Lush, Build-A-Bear, Swarovski, Lego, Tesla, and Williams-Sonoma are just a few of the other well-known retail establishments in the area.

The Shops at Mission Viejo are home to several popular restaurants like Cheesecake Factory, Chipotle, P.F. Chang’s, and Ruby’s Diner.

Enjoy the air conditioning in the summer or take a break from Christmas shopping in the large eating pavilion at this multi-purpose facility.

Book Tee Time at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club‎

View of the Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club‎

mgd21, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Designed and made by Tom Lehman, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club is a challenging and rewarding 18-hole golf course.

Every hole on this 240-acre was the work of architect Jim O’Callaghan.

It offers breathtaking views of the natural beauty surrounding it, including the Trabuco Creek and Ladera Open Space Reserve.

The club is available for private events like weddings and celebrations and annually hosts significant tournaments.

It also features a relaxing café.

Have a Blast at Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Sky Zone Trampoline Park is an enormous trampoline park with a wide range of exciting attractions that are sure to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

In addition to trampolines, the facility also features a ninja course, a zipline, and a foam pit.

Super trampolines offer jumpers the extra lift they need to do more complex stunts.

They also provide free trampoline time for kids accompanied by a paying adult until noon on weekdays.

If you’re a regular Sky Zone Trampoline Park visitor, you may save money on tickets by signing up for a monthly subscription.

Join Art Classes at Potocki Center for the Arts

At the Potocki Center for the Arts, artists of all ages and skill levels may rent studio space and sign up for art programs.

Courses are available in various creative disciplines, from textile arts to three-dimensional art to music.

Families may visit each week to explore the area together as their children participate in art activities.

Potocki Center for the Arts, established in 2018, is a valuable public resource that broadens the financial reach of Mission Viejo’s artistic community.

Check out their event calendar to sign up for lessons, attend a performance, or learn about other upcoming activities.

Solve Mysteries with Your Friends at Nerdy by Nature Escape Rooms

Have you ever tried an escape room?

In recent years, escape rooms have become increasingly popular as group entertainment nationwide, including in Orange County.

Nerdy by Nature Escape Rooms is where you and your friends can test your problem-solving and cooperation abilities in a thrilling and entertaining adventure.

The facility has two themed chambers, one dedicated to the Illuminati and its secrets and the other to hunting pirate treasure.

At Nerdy by Nature Escape Rooms, groups of three to ten people can take on a challenging hour-long game.

Read about Local History at Mission Viejo Library

Exterior view of the Mission Viejo Library

Nandaro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After starting as a small, county-run library, the Mission Viejo Library has expanded into a massive building with about 42,000 square feet of books, reading places, and activity rooms.

The facility also has 30 PCs with filtered Internet and Microsoft Office productivity tools for residents.

The kids’ area has a multimedia learning center they may utilize.

Younger children can attend storytimes or get assistance with their schoolwork in the designated children’s section.

Local artists’ paintings, photography, and other works are on rotating display at the Mission Viejo Library.

Catch Free Movies at Film of Character

Are you looking for a free activity in Mission Viejo with your children?

The Mission Viejo City Hall hosts a monthly Film of Character series, including educational, engaging, and uplifting films perfect for parents wishing to exhibit such films to their children.

Movies with positive messages about being a good person are screened for free.

Films like “Pinocchio,” “My Fair Lady,” and “The Blind Side” have been screened at Film of Character before.

In February 2011, the festival screened “The Great Debaters,” written and directed by Robert Eisele.

A discussion of the film’s relevance to the values of Mission Viejo will follow.

Experts in the field will facilitate the activity.

Sip Fine Wine at A Hidden Vine on the Lake

Although Southern California is more renowned for its beaches and microbreweries, the region has also had a wine rebirth in recent years.

Located on the beautiful beaches of Lake Mission Viejo, A Hidden Vine on the Lake is the ideal spot to spend a warm day enjoying the company of good friends, the breathtaking scenery, and a bottle or two of the region’s finest wine.

The winery has a patio where guests can enjoy stunning lake views, and the proprietors arrange weekly tastings.

Wine tastings at A Hidden Vine on the Lake come with savory and sweet bites like bread, charcuterie, cheese, and desserts, and guests may learn more about the intricacies of each wine from their knowledgeable guide.

Limited availability means you’ll want to book your seats in advance.

Drink with Locals at Dublin 4 Gastropub

Dublin 4 Gastropub is an Irish pub serving a variety of New American and Irish dishes alongside a wide selection of craft beers and brews.

Dublin 4 Gastropub, which first debuted on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, offers a one-of-a-kind drinking and dining experience.

Local draft beers, craft beers, cocktails made from scratch, whiskeys, liqueurs, spirits, and wines from worldwide are all available.

It also offers a carefully chosen chef-driven, delicious menu using only the freshest, farm-to-table ingredients.

The relaxed, comfortable, and welcoming ambiance at Dublin 4 Gastropub, open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, is perfect for commemorative occasions.

Final Thoughts

Mission Viejo, California, is a stunning place to visit, even though it is not as well-known as some other major cities in the United States.

It’s a great place to stop by while traveling to Los Angeles or Long Beach.

Take a breather from the bigger cities and unwind with this list of the best things to do in Mission Viejo, California.

© All rights reserved.