Over one-third of Laguna Niguel is designated as open space. This significant amount of open space is one of the key features defining the character and urban form of the City. The City has 2 community parks, 23 neighborhood parks, 3 mini-parks, 1 dog park, 2 county regional parks, 2 small county parks and the new Laguna Niguel Skate & Soccer Park.
The name “Laguna Niguel” is derived from the Spanish word “Laguna,” which means lagoon, and the word “Nigueli,” which was the name of a Juaneno Indian village once located near Aliso Creek. In 1821, California became Mexican territory and many rancheros were formed in Southern California, including Rancho Niguel. During this period, Rancho Niguel was primarily used as a sheep ranch. The first private landowner of the area was Juan Avila, a resident of San Juan Capistrano, who obtained land through a Mexican land grant in 1842. Juan Avila was also successful in re-establishing his title to the land after California became US territory in 1848 and remained the owner of “Rancho Niguel” until 1865.