Aliso Viejo is a planned community in South Orange County that is the most recently-incorporated community in the region, joining Orange County’s incorporated cities in 2001. Aliso, as locals call it, is nestled in the San Joaquin Hills, bordered by Laguna Beach on the west, Laguna Hills on the east, Laguna Niguel to the southeast, and to the north, by Laguna Woods. The community is centered along the 73 San Joaquin Toll Road which goes from Costa Mesa and Newport’s Back Bay to the 5 Freeway between Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano.
Aliso has a number of planned subdivisions including condominiums and single-family residences and gated communities including executive and estate homes. Many of Aliso’s neighborhoods overlook the San Joaquin Hills and open space preserves. The community also enjoys excellent weather thanks to ocean breezes and the marine layer, which often creates early morning fog which burns off by 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
Aliso is known for its parks and open space, including Aliso and Woods Canyon Regional Park. The community was developed on land which was originally part of the Moulton Ranch, which was itself, part of the Mexican land grant to Juan Avila in the 19th century. Local restaurant chain Avila’s El Ranchito is named after the original rancho. Developed by the Mission Viejo Company, Aliso is the first master-planned community in California which is intended to balance available jobs, open space, and homes. Pacific Park in Aliso is a planned industrial and office center which is anchored by Pacific Life insurance company. Pacific Park includes a number of local and regional government centers as well as additional employers in the tech and medical industries, service businesses, and amenities.
Aliso Viejo is recognized for its schools, which include several California Distinguished elementary, middle, and high schools. It is also the location of Soka University of America, a global, private liberal arts university which is a branch of Soka University of Japan. Soka’s campus is a collection of architecturally-distinctive buildings which are bordered by Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, which are often opened to the public for festivals and special events.
Aliso Viejo is sometimes viewed as “next to” Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, or Laguna Hills, but the community of approximately 50,000 residents has its own character. It is an active, vibrant community with many amenities, including shopping, dining, community athletics, and theater. For a newer, small community, Aliso has more than its share of champion athletes, including Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross, and U.S. champion figure skater Ashley Wagner.