California : Safety by City
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Mission Viejo, California, is a bedroom community tucked into the south side of Orange County.
It’s a beautiful city, with ideal weather year-round, but it’s not necessarily designed for tourists.
The biggest attraction, Lake Mission Viejo, is a tempting treat in the center of town.
Unfortunately, you can only get in if you know someone who lives in Mission Viejo (pronounced: Vee-YAY-hoe) and can add you as a guest.
It is not open to the public.
Most of the major attractions in Mission Viejo are just outside of the city in the wilderness of Southern California.
It’s also 11 miles from the prestigious Laguna Beach and San Juan Capistrano, a historic city, is just 8 miles away.
The busier Irvine is just 15 miles away and hosts a lot more activities for tourists.
The hotel options are limited in Mission Viejo, but all are located near freeways which will help you get around.
Some of your favorite Olympians might’ve called Missio Viejo home, as it’s rich with an overachieving sports culture.
Warnings & Dangers in Mission Viejo
OVERALL RISK : LOW
The one bonus of Mission Viejo is the extremely low crime rate. It's also a friendly neighborhood community built mostly of master-planned communities. Make friends quickly so you can get access to that beautiful lake.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You can get a traditional taxi or rideshare here. There's also an inter-city free shuttle called MV Shuttle. All risks are low and aside from the traffic here, there are few safety risks no matter how you choose to get around Mission Viejo.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were three pickpocket reports in 2020, so that's a low risk. The theft rate is almost half the national average. The Orange County Sheriff's Office did share two pickpocket videos from 2020, and it's a great reminder that leaving your purse in the child carrier section of a cart can easily turn into a crime of opportunity, even if you turn away for a second.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Wildfires, earthquakes, and floods are the top three concerns in Mission Viejo. While the city has some of the best weather in the nation, we're going to call it a medium risk just because of how bad the aforementioned disasters can be. The city has an emergency preparedness section on its website, so check that out before arriving.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were just 20 robberies in Mission Viejo in 2020. I had to triple-check that low number, but it's legit. There's a low risk of being mugged.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Since it's part of the massive L.A. Metro area, we need to give it a medium risk. Large population centers and popular tourist attractions are always going to be hard targets for terrorists.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of a tourist being scammed, as most of the reported scams include utility calls and scammers posing as police officers trying to get payments from people.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Women should be safe traveling here, as the crime rates across the board are very low. The low risk does come with the caveat that the traveler should take basic safety precautions when shopping and dining.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The tap water is safe to drink here and has a low risk. The water utility is also conserving water by recycling 100% of its wastewater.
Safest Places to Visit in Mission Viejo
Mission Viejo is known for its competitive youth sports and is habitually turning young athletes into Olympians.
Florence Griffith Joyner, aka FloJo, is from Missio Viejo, as is Greg Louganis.
Taking in any sporting event you see, from swimming to diving to soccer to basketball to baseball, is sure to be an exciting experience.
The Road Cycling Events were held here in 1984, and you can still ride that same trail.
It’s a 10.9-mile loop. There are five other parks in the city with trails for walking, riding, or running.
The Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve is just outside of Irvine.
You’ll need to make an appointment for a docent-led tour of this delicate terrain.
There are also several hikes available on your own just to the east of Mission Viejo.
The Shoppes at Mission Viejo is a great place to window shop and enjoy a nice meal with 20 restaurants to choose from.
Places to Avoid in Mission Viejo
The community has a very low crime rate, so there aren’t bad neighborhoods or parts of town you absolutely should not visit.
Crime maps show a spike near the I-5 corridor, but overall crime is pretty spread out in the city.
Don’t go to the lake if you don’t have a guest pass.
Trying to sneak in could get you banned or arrested.
The beach is just 15 minutes away and they let everyone enjoy it.
Mission Viejo has a great location nestled away near the mountains, but that means to get anywhere else you should expect to sit in traffic.
A ride to Disneyland might take 30 minutes if you go there at 7 am, but it’s at least an hour if you leave at 9 am.
In such an affluent community, it’s tempting to dress up and wear your good jewelry when you go out.
Be sure you aren’t wearing anything that could draw unnecessary attention to you from would-be thieves.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Mission Viejo
- The Mission Viejo Police Department is very transparent with crime reports. Whether you want to search the daily police blotter or search updated crime maps, it’s all available on the department’s website.
- Download the SafeOC app to have instant crime reporting available on your mobile device. The app walks you through what crimes to be aware of and how to be a good witness.
- While you’re looking at your mobile device, bookmark Go511. This traffic website will show you delays, accidents, and construction in Orange County. You can also call 511 anytime to get updated traffic information.
- There are a lot of gated communities in Mission Viejo. Do not try to sneak through a gate behind another car or lie to get into the community. The HOA’s are diligent about watching for strange cars driving through and you might get stopped if you are in a community where you don’t know anyone.
- On the off chance, a natural disaster happens while you’re there, you want to be prepared. The state of California has created a brochure titled “10 ways you can be disaster prepared.” To get a copy of it, call 916-845-8400.
- Mission Viejo can be impacted by fierce Santa Ana winds in the late summer, fall and winter. These strong gusts come down off the mountains and can be dangerous. They have been known to stoke wildfires and knock down power lines. Check your weather app of choice for updates on wind and wildfire conditions.
- If you see graffiti in Mission Viejo, report it to the hotline by calling (949)460-2924. The city also has an online form you can fill out. Graffiti can be a sign of gang activity, so cities in Southern California are adamant about cleaning it up as soon as possible.
- If you’re going to hike in any of the many options around the city, be sure to bring plenty of water. The dry climate can soak all the moisture out of you and leave you dehydrated. Be sure to check out the difficult path of a trail before you go so you don’t overexert yourself.
- If you are heading to the beach, leave behind any valuables in the hotel room or rental home. Don’t take them in your car and take only what you need. This will help prevent making your car an easy mark for thieves.
- On a day with a high wildfire risk, the utility company might shut off the power during what’s called a Public Safety Power Shutoff. This prevents power lines and transformers from becoming a fire starter in the winds, but it can also leave large areas of the city without power for hours or days.
So... How Safe Is Mission Viejo Really?
Mission Viejo regularly makes the list of safest cities in California and America.
In 2021, it was #9 on the SafeWise list of safest cities in California.
Here’s how the crime statistics break down:
- Violent Crime: 71 incidents
- Robbery: 20 incidents
- Theft: 659 incidents
It’s hard to find a city in the L.A. Basin that has crime rates that low, but it also comes with the sacrifice of a lot of tourist amenities and the city rolls up the carpet around 8 pm, leaving nightlife options few and far between.
If you’re here for a family visit or wedding, you’ll have a great time, but if you’re looking for a place to stay as a tourist to explore Orange County, there are more convenient options with a larger number of hotels to choose from.
Since you’re most likely going to leave Mission Viejo during your trip to visit other areas, you should check out the surrounding cities on our website to see what crime rates are like there.
Just because Mission Viejo is so safe, it doesn’t mean other areas are.
How Does Mission Viejo Compare?
- Visas - The Visa requirements are handled at the airport, port of entry, or border crossing. You won't need additional verification to be in Mission Viejo.
- Currency - Only the U.S. Dollar is accepted here. You don't really need cash, as all businesses take credit cards or mobile payments through your phone or smartwatch. If you do carry a wallet or a purse, keep it close to you and never leave it unattended, like in a shopping cart or on the back of your chair at a restaurant.
- Weather - You're going to need layers here as the nights are always a bit cooler, even in the hottest part of summer. Winter and spring highs get into the 60s and rise to the low-80s by summer. Nights are never less than the upper 40s, and summer lows are in the 60s. You do get a marine layer in the afternoon, so it gets a little gloomy, but there's rarely rain here. The city only gets 14 inches of rain a year.
- Airports - John Wayne Airport is the closest option and it's less than 30 minutes away. Ontario International Airport is about an hour north. You've got about a 90-minute drive to Los Angeles International Airport, but it's through some gnarly traffic. You can get to Long Beach's airport in a little more than an hour.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for your trip to Mission Viejo, like wildfires and related smoke can impact air traffic patterns and shut down major roadways.
Mission Viejo Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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