Aliso Viejo is a city of about 50,000 people situated in the San Joaquin Hills area of Orange County. This suburb of Irvine is known for its beautiful year-round weather and central location with easy access to Laguna Beach and the coast.
The city is home to many parks, hiking areas, restaurants, coffee shops and shopping areas. These include the Commons at Aliso Viejo, Aliso Viejo Plaza and Plaza de la Paz Shopping Centre.
Throughout the year, a number of events and festivals take place in Aliso Viejo including La Dolce Vita and the Water Lantern Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Aliso Viejo, California.
1. Spend Some Time Outdoors at Aliso Viejo Community Park
At Aliso Viejo Community Park, you’ll find plenty of open green spaces where you can relax in the sun or the shade. This park is located in a quiet neighbourhood, so it feels like you’re in a more remote area rather than the middle of a city.
Some of the facilities you’ll find on site include two playgrounds, several walking trails, a bike trail, picnic areas and restrooms. Also on site are several baseball diamonds, soccer fields and batting cages.
2. Admire Fine Art at The Irvine Museum
At the Irvine Museum in nearby Irvine, you’ll see beautiful works of art from the American Impressionist Period. This fine arts museum showcases rotating exhibits throughout the year, so there’s always something different to see.
Guided tours are offered on certain days of the week, and, from time to time, the museum also hosts various events including lectures and educational programs.
3. Play a Round of Golf at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club
Surrounded by the natural scenery of The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo and Trabuco Creek, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club provides golfers of all levels with a world-class, challenging golf experience.
This 18-hole championship course features lateral hazards and lakes to keep your game interesting. The on-site practice facility features a driving range and a putting green. Lessons are available.
A golf shop is also on site, and when hunger strikes, you can grab a bite to eat at O’Neil’s Bar & Grill. A wide variety of options are available at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a full bar and outdoor patio are available.
4. Spend a Day Exploring Crystal Cove State Park
Situated in nearby Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park is a must-see for anyone interested in seeing the area’s spectacular natural features – they are all here in this park!
A vast area of backcountry wilds, a long stretch of sandy beach, tidal pools, canyons and ridges are just some of the spectacular natural scenes you’ll see as you explore one of the state’s biggest open spaces.
Many outdoor activities are popular in the park including hiking, cycling, scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing and surfing.
5. Grab a Healthy Meal at Citrus Fresh Grill
It’s hard to maintain a diet or eat well while on vacation, but Citrus Fresh Grill makes it easy to stay on track.
This lively eatery serves a variety of modern dishes made with fresh, high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients.
Whether you decide to dine at breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’ll find an assortment of healthy items including soups, salads, burgers, flatbreads and pasta dishes. Patio dining is available.
The associated Citrus Fresh Market is where you can grab some healthy items, such as sandwiches and smoothies, for the road.
6. Take the Kids to Pretend City Children’s Museum
At Pretend City Children’s Museum in nearby Irvine, children get a unique experience that combines fun with learning.
This popular attraction features a small-scale city that children can explore and interact with. Within this pretend city are streets, a grocery store, a farm, a post office, a theatre, a bank, a cafe and a fire station.
Another feature of this museum is the Imagination Playground where kids use their imaginations to get creative. The museum also hosts a variety of educational events throughout the year.
7. Learn About Local Sea Life at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center
In the early 1970s, the Friends of the Sea Lion was created. This rehabilitation facility was the first of its type in the state, and today it’s known as the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
The centre rescues and cares for sick and injured sea mammals before releasing them back into the wild. Sea lions, elephant seals, fur seals and harbour seals are some of the species that are cared for at this facility.
Tours are available and a butterfly garden, interactive displays and a gift shop are on site.
8. Sample Local Craft Beer at the Stadium Brew Co.
Stadium Brew Co. is unique because it doesn’t just brew and serve its own creations on site, it also serves fine brews from other local breweries. In addition, it has a sports bar and fine dining area where you can enjoy delicious, expertly-prepared meals.
The brewery has been creating craft beers, including the Blueberry Lager and an assortment of Stadium Sours, since 2000.
Upon arrival, you can take a seat in the bar, in the dining room or on the outdoor patio. There are 60 craft beers on tap.
When it comes to food to go with your choice of beverage, pretzel bites, roasted veggie flatbread and chicken risotto are among the items you can choose from. 25 big-screen televisions are on display throughout.
9. Have a Family Fun Day at Boomers
Boomers in nearby Irvine is an amusement park with a wide variety of both land and water attractions suitable for all ages.
Mini golf, a rock wall, go-karts and a laser tag facility are just some of the on-land attractions.
On hot afternoons, Buccaneer Cove is a great place to beat the heat. A spacious water play area, bumper boats, water slides, spray loops and water tunnels are some of the water-based attractions you’ll find here.
Also on site is a modern arcade with a wide variety of exciting games.
10. Soak up some Sun and Sand at Main Beach
There are many beaches in nearby Laguna Beach, but Main Beach is the longest and most popular.
Situated right in the centre of the city, one of the first things you’ll notice on the beach is the iconic lifeguard tower that has been there since 1929.
Most people come to this beach for the swimming, but there are many other water-based activities to participate in including body surfing and bodyboarding. Several basketball and volleyball courts are also on site.
Another popular activity among visitors to this beach is strolling along the beautiful boardwalk that stretches alongside the beach.
11. Enjoy a Live Performance at the Soka Performing Arts Center
The Soka Performing Arts Center is a world-class concert hall that seats 1,000 people. The main things this centre is known for are its state-of-the-art acoustics and for being the home of the Pacific Symphony Chamber Orchestra.
Since 2011, this venue, which is located at Soka University, has been hosting a wide variety of performances throughout the year including jazz and classical musical performance, symphonies, festivals and children’s events.
12. Taste Local Wine at the Bellante Family Winery
Since the year 2000, the Bellante family has been handcrafting wines at their Bellante Family Winery.
The small batch, age-worthy wines made on site include a variety of reds such as Pinot Noir and Rhone Reds. Wines can be tasted in the comfortable and modern tasting room.
13. Explore the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated in nearby Irvine, the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect place to spend a day outdoors if you’re interested in learning about local flora and fauna.
This 300-acre freshwater marsh is home to a wide range of bird species such as eagles, egrets, herons, cormorants and geese.
There are over 10 miles of walking trails in this sanctuary, and as you explore the area, you’ll also have a chance to see some of the wildlife of the area including coyotes and bobcats.
Some of the on-site facilities include a boardwalk and an observation deck.
14. Visit the Hortense Miller Garden
Founded in 1959, the Hortense Miller Garden features more than 800 species of plants including 150 that are native to California.
This beautiful garden is surrounded by the stunning scenery of Boat Canyon and the Pacific Ocean.
The 2.5-acre garden is also home to some foxes, skunks, opossums and racoons. Guided tours are offered.
15. Check out Beautiful Local Art at the Laguna Art Museum
Situated in nearby Laguna Beach, the Laguna Art Museum showcases a wide variety of fine artworks.
The unique thing about this art museum is that it collects, preserves and showcases art created by artists from California only.
The beautiful artworks on display span the period from the early 19th century to today. The styles of art on display are as diverse as the scenes they depict.