The City of Lake Forest is located in the heart of South Orange County and the beautiful Saddleback Valley. The City's motto, "remember the past, challenge the future," is the Lake Forest way of life. The rich heritage of the past is preserved and enhanced in this contemporary city ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future. Lake Forest was incorporated as a city in 1991 to help ensure that it will always be an ideal place for business to prosper and people to live, work and play.
Since being incorporated, Lake Forest has expanded its limits to include the communities of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. These newer communities are master planned developments that brought homes and commercial centers to the Eastern boundary of Lake Forest throughout the 1990’s.
Don Jose Serrano settled the area, which was originally called Rancho Canada De Los Alisos (the Valley of the Sycamores), through a Mexican Land Grant in 1846. The area then became known as El Toro, named after the bulls that roamed Don Jose Serrano's ranch. For more than a century, the land remained with Don Jose and his family until financial problems forced him to turn the land over to private interests. In the early 1900's, Dwight Whiting, a resident of the area, planted 400 acres of fast-growing eucalyptus trees in this growing agricultural community as an answer to the California lumber shortage.
Shortly following World War II, residential, commercial, and industrial development began to replace the acres of farmland in the area. In the 1960's, master developer Occidental Petroleum decided to create a master-planned community around the abundant trees and man-made lakes. The eucalyptus trees provided landscaping for the new modern homes and led to the "Forest" in Lake Forest. During the peak of activity at the nearby El Toro Marine Base, the need for new homes and support services increased. Steadily, the Lake Forest area was built into the community we enjoy today.
Lake Forest is well-situated adjacent to the merger of the Interstate 5 and 405 Freeways and the Foothill and Eastern Transportation Corridors, which provide easy access to Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Inland Empire. The Orange County Airport and an Amtrak station are only minutes away.
“Lake Forest, Where Work and Life Come Together Naturally." The City's business, industrial and commercial office parks offer an excellent selection of facilities and development opportunities to meet the needs and specific requirements of varied professions and businesses, including research and development, technology, manufacturing and retail. Companies that include Oakley, Wet Seal, Del Taco corporate offices, Panasonic Avionics, Apria Healthcare, Black & Decker, and Wonderware Corporation flourish in Lake Forest. The City takes a proactive role in expanding existing businesses and encouraging entrepreneurial activity.
Lake Forest has the charm of a small community with the convenience of a large metropolitan city. It's the place to live the good life in beautiful, safe, well-planned neighborhoods. The environment is ideal with mild Mediterranean weather, lush green hills, groves of eucalyptus trees, lakes and style. It's family living at its finest with homes to meet all needs, including lake front homes, equestrian estates, luxury condominiums, town homes, mobile home parks and retirement communities.
Lake Forest’s 30 public parks and the Whiting Ranch Regional Wilderness Park offer acres of great outdoor pleasure. Everything from tennis, handball, basketball and volleyball courts, tot lots, a golf course, stable, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, cozy picnic areas and barbecues, to boating and swimming are all conveniently available within the city. There are free summer concerts in the park, theaters, community playhouse productions, special events at Heritage Hill Historical Park and City sponsored programs for all age groups.
Lake Forest has quality public schools for grades K-12, several preschools, private elementary schools, technical and trade schools within the city. Higher education is only minutes away at the University of California at Irvine, California State University at Fullerton, Chapman University, Concordia University and Saddleback and Irvine Valley Community Colleges.