Mission Viejo, a city of 100,000 inhabitants, is only 15 kilometers inland.newport strandand the Pacific Ocean.
It's in Southern California's Orange County, close enough to downtown Los Angeles, that day trips are popular with travelers looking to make the most of their limited vacation.
Mission Viejo is one of the largest master-planned communities in the United States, especially known for its abundance of parks, golf courses, cultural attractions and restaurants.
It's also close enough to some of the state's most iconic beaches and parks that keeping busy in the area shouldn't be a problem.
Here are 15 things to do in and around Mission Viejo,California.
1. O'Neal Regional Park
Because of its convenient location and abundance of activity opportunities, O'Neal Regional Park is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who like to enjoy time outside without having to drive to distant states and national parks.
The park is only a few minutes from the city centre. It attracts anglers, hikers, bird watchers and mountain bikers from all over Orange County.
O'Neal Park has paved and unpaved paths and trails for visitors of most ages and fitness levels, and there are frequent staff-led events, such as weekly guided walks.
If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting on a weekday or early in the morning.
2. Suncastle Golf Course
For a relatively small town, Mission Viejo has an impressive selection of golf courses. They range from expensive private to affordable public.
Casta Del Sol Golf Course has been around since the 70s. It's a favorite among local players who like to take short courses that don't take up four or five hours a day.
At just over 3,700 yards, it's about 40 percent shorter than most traditional 18-hole courses, meaning more time to hit the beach or explore other area attractions.
The par 61 course features Bermuda fairways, strategically placed sand and water hazards and holes ranging from 100+ yards to 230+ yards.
3. Vines hidden in the lake
Although Southern California is known for its beaches and small wineries, it has also experienced a wine renaissance in recent years.
Located on the scenic lakefront in Mission Viejo, A Hidden Vine on the Lake is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon with good friends, take in a stunning view, and sample some of the region's most popular wines.
The winery offers guests a terrace with great views of the lake, and the staff hosts weekly wine tastings.
Guests will benefit from the knowledge of their expert guides to appreciate the nuances of each wine they taste, paired with delicious snacks such as bread, cheese, charcuterie and even sweets.
There are limited places, please book in advance.
4. Mission Viejo Mall
With more than 100 stores and restaurants, Mission Viejo Mall is the perfect retreat for shopping therapy for those who have had their fill of the great outdoors and the often harsh California sun.
The mall is home to major national retailers such as Macy's, Nordstrom and H&M. There are also plenty of dining options, from fast food to exclusive restaurants such as P.F. Chang's and The Cheesecake Factory.
Other amenities at the mall include bike racks, a diaper changing station and a children's play area.
Mission Viejo Mall is conveniently located off the Crown Valley Parkway exit of I-5.
5. Burke Williams Day Spa
Back in the mid-80s, Burke Williams pioneered the urban spa experience that has since become relatively common in the wellness world.
Burke Williams Day Spa, located on Crown Valley Parkway in Mission Viejo, is largely modeled after traditional European day spas, but with a few modern twists.
The spa offers a wide range of treatments and activities, including massages, facials and leisure in the hot tub, Turkish bath and sauna.
Previous guests have described Burke Williams Day Spa as an oasis and paradise for health, beauty and relaxation.
6. Mission Viejo Lake
Lake Mission Viejo is Mission Viejo's most popular outdoor recreation destination. Conveniently located between Interstate 5 and Cal Route 241, just minutes north of town.
The lake is open year-round, but tends to draw the biggest crowds in the spring and summer when it serves as a venue for live entertainment.
Lake Mission Viejo has shaded seating, restrooms, a boat ramp and several beaches. The number of visitors is limited, so be sure to arrive early during peak periods.
In previous years, nationally known musicians and bands have hosted a summer concert series by the lake.
7. Cal Brandmuseum
Located on Trabuco Street in Mission Viejo, the Cal Fire Museum is both a historic site and a safety learning center.
The museum, which has been around for nearly two decades, is the brainchild of local businessmen and security experts who saw the potential to combine two valuable neighborhood attractions under one roof.
The Cal Fire Museum is just one of the attractions in the city's large park. It has a unique collection of historical and firefighting memorabilia that gives visitors an interesting look at how it has evolved over the years.
The facility also hosts regular safety classes and workshops that are also worth checking out.
8. Cornaloa coffee
Established in Mission Viejo in 2014, Kona Loa Coffee offers a variety of Kona Big Island Hawaiian coffee.
Coffee lovers love the strong coffee flavor from Kona Loa. Beverages come in a variety of hot and cold options.
Kona Loa's menu is popular for traditional Hawaiian breakfasts as well as hearty burritos, shaved ice, smoothies and chai tea.
Past guests have commented on the relaxed and modern surroundings, fast Wi-Fi and comfortable seating.
Kona Loa Coffee is located on Jeronimo Street in Mission Viejo. Spaces fill up quickly, so consider arriving early if you work on site.
9. Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park
Three miles southeast of Mission Viejo in Trabuco Canyon, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park is a great choice for the value-conscious outdoor enthusiast.
The park opens early and closes at sunset. Some visitors find the dimly lit mornings and evenings the most appealing.
This is also when the crowds tend to be the least and when the elusive animals of the day come out to feed.
There is relatively little daily parking for visitors, and there is a network of well-marked trails that lead to bridges, streams, woodland and a butterfly garden.
10. Khatam Restaurant
Located on Jeronimo Street in Mission Viejo, Hatam Restaurant is a North Orange County destination for hungry travelers looking to experience authentic Persian cuisine.
Hattam is also a popular eatery in the area, offering takeout and delivery for those who prefer to eat on their own boat after a long day of hiking.
Your perennial favorites include kebabs and bademjan. The restaurant has its own convenient app that lets guests order and pay for meals before they arrive, often eliminating wait times for those with busy schedules.
Hatam Restaurant is a family-run restaurant established in 1997.
11. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park
Consisting of more than 2,000 acres of riverside wilderness just 15 minutes from downtown Mission Viejo, Witting Ranch Wilderness Park is popular for its unique rock formations and dozens of multi-use trails.
Much of the park was destroyed in the San Diego fire more than ten years ago. Although it has been restored, much of its vegetation has not fully regenerated, giving it a characteristically sparse and lunar appearance.
The park's paths are open to walkers, runners and cyclists. While it may be tempting to enter the canyon on a wilderness adventure, it is strictly prohibited.
12. Laguna Niguel Regional Park
Many game fish, such as bass, grow longer in California than in other states with harsh winters due to year-round warm weather.
At the heart of Laguna Niguel Regional Park is a 40+ acre lake that is a big draw for local anglers looking to fish.
During the fishing season, the lake is full of bass and trout. Those without their own equipment can rent boats, fishing rods and float tubes.
Each angler must purchase a day permit at the Park Reception Center prior to fishing. Other activities in the park include tennis, volleyball, picnicking and boating.
Laguna Niguel is located approximately 15 kilometers southwest of Mission Viejo.
13. Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club
Located in the Rancho Mission Viejo Preserve, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club is a public day course on approximately 250 acres of some of the most spectacular natural settings in the area.
Measuring 7,000 yards from the farthest tee, this 18-hole course is a challenge for experienced players and veterans alike.
Arroyo Trabuco offers dramatic elevation changes, water, sand and side hazards and layered greens in a spectacular natural desert landscape.
Located on Avery Parkway in Mission Viejo, the course features a pre-game practice area, restaurant and a well-stocked pro shop.
14. Barclays Theatre Irvine
Located on Irvine's Campus Drive just 20 minutes northwest of downtown Mission Viejo, the Irvine Barclays Theater is one of the area's most popular live entertainment venues.
It has been in operation since 1990 and has a modern 800-seat hall known for its excellent acoustics and intimate feel.
The theater is jointly operated by UC Irvine and the city. Throughout the year, it hosts a number of performances, including dance, music and theater performances.
Most productions feature local talent, so seeing a show or two is a great way to support the artists and the economy.
15. Niguel Plantereservat
At only 18 acres, it is smaller than many of its kind in Southern California, but what it lacks in size, the Niguel Plant Preserve makes up for in grand architecture.
The reserve has many unique agricultural areas, including native and exotic species of drought-tolerant plants, trees and flowers.
It is traversed by a network of well-marked trails, including viewing and seating areas, as well as information signs describing what you will see.
The shelter entrance is on Crown Valley Parkway in Laguna Niguel. Depending on traffic conditions, the drive from Mission Viejo is usually no more than 25 minutes.