Lake Forest Real Estate & Homes for Sale MLS Search 949-830-5100
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Lake Forest, CA Homes for Sale

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Lake Forest, situated between Irvine and Mission Viejo, boasts award-winning schools, attractive neighborhoods, plus modern shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. The city’s rolling hills offer picturesque views of the Saddleback mountains, streams, parks, lakes, valleys and city lights — all within minutes of the beach.

This South Orange County city incorporated on December 20, 1991. Prior to that, the area was known as El Toro. Since incorporation, the city has expanded its limits to include the communities of Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills. Both are master planned developments that brought new homes and commercial centers to the Eastern boundary of Lake Forest throughout the 1990s. Lake Forest (along with its neighboring cities Mission Viejo and Irvine) is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country. The private research firm Morgan Quitno ranked Lake Forest as the 15th safest city and another firm later ranked Lake Forest 10th in 2007 in the United States.

The city boasts two man-made lakes, from which the city gets its name. Condominiums and custom homes from large to small line their shores. The Lake Forest Beach & Tennis Club and Sun & Sail Club feature tennis courts, gyms, basketball courts, barbecue pits, volleyball courts, multiple swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs and clubhouses for social events. The Eucalyptus forest for which the city is also named lies in the area between Ridge Route, Jeronimo, Lake Forest Rd and Serrano Rd. The forest, too, is man-made. Begun in the 1900s and 1910s when local landowner, Dwight Whiting, planted 400 acres of Eucalyptus groves in the vicinity of Serrano Creek as part of a lumber operation.

Several large corporations are headquartered here and the community features ample employment opportunities along with extensive recreational venues. Major employers include eyewear manufacturer Oakley Inc., metals company Kaiser Aluminum, in-flight entertainment provider Panasonic Avionics, and Karem Aircraft among others.

The City of Lake Forest boasts 27 public parks. 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 ages.

Historically, the area now known as Lake Forest was settled by Don Jose Serrano, and was originally called Rancho Canada De Los Alisos (the Valley of the Sycamores). He acquired the land through a Mexican Land Grant in 1846. The area then became known as El Toro, after the bulls that roamed 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. Shortly after World War II, residential, commercial and industrial development began to replace the acres of farmland in the area. In the 1960s, 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 you see today.

Lake Forest lies within ZIP Codes 92609, 92610, and 92630.

A little trivia: Will Smith’s character in the 1996 20th Century Fox film Independence Day reports to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro near Lake Forest. In the film, the base was obliterated by aliens. In reality, it was obliterated by budget cuts. Another bit of MCAS El Toro trivia: The El Toro “Flying Bull” patch was designed by Walt Disney Studios in 1944. It survived virtually unchanged until the close of the Air Station in 1999. Part of the base is destined to become the Orange County Great Park which will be nearly twice the size of New York’s Central Park.

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