Located just west of Laguna Beach in the heart of South Orange County, California, The City of Laguna Woods is home to the premier active adult community of Laguna Woods Village, which makes up over 90 % of its land and population as well as expansive open spaces. With the Pacific Ocean just five miles away, the 7,000 acres Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on our border, and the 4,500 acres Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park down the road, opportunities abound to take in the great outdoors. Laguna Woods residents also enjoy easy access to a vast array of social clubs, world-class destinations, and continuing education at some of California’s finest colleges and universities. No matter where you live in Laguna Woods, you’ll find a diverse assortment of friends and neighbors, each with vibrant life experiences. Urban, suburban, social or alone there is a rich lifestyle for everyone in Laguna Woods.
Laguna Woods, California occupies approximately three-square miles of land that was once a part of South Orange County’s expansive Moulton Ranch. Prior to the 1960s, dry farming and cattle grazing dominated the area, with a few scattered ranch dwellings and barns. It is bordered by Laguna Hills on the north and east, Aliso Viejo on the south, Laguna Beach on the southwest, the Crystal Cove State Park on the west, and Irvine on the northwest.
In 1962, Ross Cortese, a young developer whose previous projects included Rossmoor and Leisure World Seal Beach, purchased a portion of the Moulton Ranch. His goal was to create a second Leisure World community or, as he said, “to supply the basic needs of life for people aged 52 and older; create a serene atmosphere of beauty; and provide security, recreation, and religious facilities – then leave the living to the individual.” His dream materialized and in 1964 Leisure World Laguna Hills received its first residents. The population was spread out with 48 people (0.3%) under the age of 18, 56 people (0.3%) aged 18 to 24, 266 people (1.6%) aged 25 to 44, 2,948 people (18.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 12,874 people (79.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 77.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 55.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 55.0 males.
The prospect of incorporation first arose in 1971 and was a lingering issue until 1996, when the potential for a reduction in county services and the possibility of a commercial airport at the nearby site of the former Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, became very real concerns. Proponents of cityhood successfully gained the necessary approvals and signatures to place the issue of incorporation on the ballot for a special election on March 2, 1999. On March 24, 1999, Laguna Woods officially became Orange County’s 32nd city.
Although Laguna Woods Village had its inception as Leisureworld it is now composed of about 12,000 residences and about 16,000 residents with a mean age of 78 years. Residents of the Village must be at least 55 years of age and must meet well defined financial guidelines either to buy or to rent in the village. The Village is a “giant” co-op under the overall umbrella of the Golden Rain Foundation and two “mutuals”, United Mutual and Third Mutual. Homeowners do not receive a traditional deed when a home purchase is completed but instead,
they receive a stock certificate in one or the other of the mutuals. The Village is purely residential with no commercial properties but ten “Clubhouses” provide an unbelievable array of activity opportunities for residents and their guests. Golf courses, tennis courts, Pickleball courts, swimming pools, Bocce Ball courts, stables for horseback riding and trails to ride on, quiet streets and a lovely park alongside Aliso Creek for walking or jogging, an extensive array of equipment in a recently redone workout facility all provide nearly endless opportunities for physical activity from mild to wild! Opportunities for intellectual, cultural, artistic, musical and game activities are present including card games, woodworking, ceramics, slipcasting, art education, and instruction among others. A host of clubs meet in the various clubhouses to pursue interests almost from A to Z! One of my particular interests is Contract Bridge and we have a dedicated bridge room in Clubhouse 7 and the Laguna Bridge Club is an affiliate of the American Contract Bridge League. Bridge games from beginner to Life Master are available on a daily basis. The Shakespeare and Modern Culture Society, for instance, is embarking on a new series: Shakespeare 5000 BC-2018 AD. How is that for expanding on one’s horizons?? I have only touched on a tiny fraction of what is available to residents of Laguna Woods. Our weekly newspaper the Globe keeps us up to date on everything going on in the Village including meetings of the various governing bodies of the Golden Rain Foundation and Third and United Mutuals.
Within the village are residences of a variety of types, including condominiums, apartments, multistory complexes and single detached homes with prices ranging from the low $200 thousands to well over one million. Median home prices are on the whole quite a bit lower than comparable homes in the surrounding cities such as Laguna Hills, Laguna Nigel, Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo. Average home price is around $400 thousand. The community is a generally quiet environment with abundant trees, flowers, shrubs, and plants of all kinds to enrich the lives of the residents. Just outside the village gates are an abundance of other cities some of which I will highlight in future blog posts. Laguna Woods Village is not the kind of place one goes to visit unless one has friends or family who live there but I thought that it might be of interest to some of my readers or their families who might be considering a place to retire. For my money, Laguna Woods Village is a place that one definitely should consider! Listed below are a few locations nearby our village which may also be of interest. In the photos which accompany this post I have tried to give one a general idea of the place but it would take many more photographs to truly encompass it all.
A Place for Paws” Dog Park
23301 Ridge Route Drive, Laguna Woods, CA 92637 Get Directions
“A Place for Paws” Dog Park is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to sunset.
City Centre Park
24121 Moulton Parkway, Laguna Woods, CA 92637 Get Directions
City Centre Park is located behind the Ayres Hotel in Town Centre, just west of Moulton Parkway. Amenities include a walking trail, picnic tables, and small gathering space.
Woods End Wilderness Preserve
24995 El Toro Road, Laguna Woods, CA 92637 Get Directions
This 10.6 acre park is located just north of the intersection of El Toro Road and Aliso Creek Road. The park is operated as a part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park with trails that provide access to the James Dilley Preserve and Barbara’s Lake. Once envisioned as housing, the City was able to preserve this land as public open space. For more information, including trail maps, please click here to visit OC Parks’ Laguna Coast Wilderness Park website.