Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest is a local treasure. Serrano and Whiting are familiar names for those traveling in Lake Forest, but learning the historical significance of the ranchos and people behind the names is fascinating to me. Once you’re done with your experiential history lesson – head over to Serrano Creek Park for some play and maybe some natural exploration among the eucalyptus. Make sure to visit the official OCParks.com website for official information on the history, tours, location and calendar of events.
Location of Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest: On the corner of Lake Forest Drive (exit off Interstate 5) and Serrano Road. You’ll turn left onto Serrano and take your first right into shopping area parking lot. Bagels and Brew is steps away from the park entrance. MAP to Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest
Recommended by: Jenny
- We are a self-tour kind of family – but I would highly recommend the docent led tours. Our tour took over an hour. Our docent, Carolyn, knew her stuff and shared every detail. I’m amazed at how much I learned (considering I’m a know-it-all type).
- You don’t get to go deep inside the buildings unless you are on a tour with a guide. Inside the Serrano Adobe there are many stories about life and even a more interactive room where children can see historic artifacts and try on period clothing.
- I also like touring the kitchen of the Bennett Ranch house with its old time kitchen and gadgets.
- My kids loved the school room and are still recounting details they learned about how a one-room schoolhouse operated way back then.
- The spirit of discovery and the perspective on our life now compared to past history is an invaluable part of adventuring here.
- There is no playground at this location. It’s a historical park with old buildings and meandering trail.
- Plenty to explore and touch outside – but if you take 1 year olds on the tour I’d recommend holding them in your arms while inside (to avoid breakage of fragile artifacts and art). Or just wait outside until the tour moves out again.
- Closed Monday and Tuesday.
- Check the official website for info on the tours.
- Special events effect the “crowd factor.” When we took the tour, it was just us and another very nice family and it’s always pretty quiet when we visit. In May, they host Rancho Days Fiesta generally in the first weekend of May. They also have 2 Halloween events (one tame and the other kinda scary) and there’s a Victorian Christmas event along with a Candlelight Walk event during December. This place is very popular times when they host special events. It’s pretty special to visit this historic place at night.
- Free parking in a huge shopping center lot
- Trails are dirt and sloping – definitely uneven ground
- Restrooms inside the park – along with at least 2 drinking fountains
- Shade trees, but no air conditioning inside
- Available to reserve for weddings and receptions
- Official OCParks.com page on Heritage Hill Historic Park
- Nearest public library branch: El Toro Library
Nearby parks in Lake Forest:
Originally posted in September 2009.