1. Burritos in the morning, burritos in the evening, burritos at dinnertime
Take La Tapatia, for instance. Or Pica’s. Or Taqueria Vallarta, Huapangos, El Farolito, La Taqueria, Al & Bea’s, Taco Surf, Picante Martin’s, La Vic, Papalote, or Taqueria insert-any-Spanish-word-here. None of your top 5 favorite burrito places is even on this list, is it?
That’s because California has that many and they’re all an understood amount of moment-transcending deliciousness. They can be found on trucks, in holes-in-the-wall, or as part of a 5-star dining experience, but their origins have nothing to do with the quality of their cheesy, beefy goodness. There’s a breakfast burrito for when you’ve been up all night, a chile relleno burrito for when life is just too dull, and even tofu burritos for the true Californian at heart, whenever or wherever the craving hits.
2. Knowing what to do in an earthquake drill
Not that it’ll ever come in handy in too many other places in the US, but you are ready.
3. Waking up in time for the big game
While you set your alarm clock to make sure you don’t miss kick off, the rest of us are either wasting time staring at our watches or seeing how many beers we can pound before we pre-game. You get an entire day’s worth of sports as if the West Coast has some sort of deal with the universe. And if you don’t care about the red team beating the blue team, the same goes for giant award shows and the like. Everyone else is fighting to stay awake through Best Sound Design in a Foreign Language Short Film while you’re still shoveling down lil’ smokies during Best Actress. Try not to take it for granted, because for the rest of the world, there’s no choice but to worship TiVo.
4. Deciding what you’re going to do today
Any Californian ever: “Hey Mia, whaddaya wanna do today? Surf? Rent a boat? Ski the mountains? Tahoe? Disneyland? Drive up to the city? Get a Frappuccino and some weed? Venice? The Grove? Get tickets to Jeopardy!? Go wine tasting? Get some clam chowder? Yosemite? Aquarium? The zoo? Any of those sound good?”
All the rest of y’all: “Hey Ash…wanna go to the mall?”
5. Gold rush field trips
What did your 4th-grade self like more than skipping school for a day to go pan for gold? Nothing, that’s what. Sure, you never hit it rich like James Franco, but you still got to get out of reading Jumanji when you’ve already seen the movie and even got some ice cream out of the deal after you got your hands covered in American history. And next month is the Griffith Observatory? Do the rest of us a favor and call up your cousin in Indiana and ask them about their trip to the salt and pepper shaker museum — the only trip their school ever offered. Can you remember the taste of that ice cream? It tasted like winning.
6. Everyone registering the words you just said when asked, “Where are you from?”
Go abroad and tell someone you’re from America. If they nod and respond with, “California?”, lap it up. To just about everyone — middle Americans included — the US is just a giant glob of nothingness with LA on one end and New York on the other. The Golden State is the setting of just about every American film ever made (even if it pretends to look like Missouri), every famous person has at least one Californian home, and if you only watched Dateline, you’d swear that pretty young women only got murdered in California because it’s the only place that exists. In the world. Nothing else happens anywhere else because according to the TV, there is no anywhere else.
7. The privilege of dietary restrictions
Need some gluten-free wheat grass in your morning “secret menu” Jamba Juice to truly be your best self before yoga? Next time you grab your Lululemon tank and head out the door to order your daily Dirty Orgasm, thank your smoothie provider and your lucky stars. You’re in California, thank God, and between your recent adoption of Celiac disease and newfound addiction to tempeh, you’re in the right place at the right time. Just don’t leave. Ever.
8. Saying, “I went to the same high school as…”
Many celebrities weren’t always famous, but they have been and always will be Californians. “Did you really make out with James Franco after Algebra II class? And you’re like hella good friends now? Wow. Sounds pretty gnarly. Wish my high school math class could’ve been so meaningful and life-altering. All I got out of it were proofs and an invitation to the 4-H dance,” says your Indianian cousin.
9. Not using sunblock
Face it: you’re either already a tomato or you have a sweet base tan.
10. Freeways doubling as parking lots
That’s not how it’s supposed to be, friends. Nor should it take you 2 hours to get to work, even if you’re driving a Prius like a boss in the HOV lane and live 10 miles away. You’ve just accepted it in an impressive showing of cognitive dissonance, and that’s fine. But is it worth the burritos and the sunshine and Roscoe’s and being Tony Flow and the Majestic Masters of Mayhem’s first fan? Yes. Yes, it is.
11. Knowing where you are by the spectrum of smells on the freeway
Cowschwitz is only worth it once you hit the sweet, garlic-y surrender of Gilroy. Fresh cherries, anyone?
12. Theme park passes being part of your annual budget
If you allot $100 for turkey legs, that leaves $500 for miscellaneous food and souvenirs. Then there’s also the annual pass, $50 for Dole Whips — and oh, Great America, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Magic Mountain, Sea World (if you haven’t seen Black Fish), Legoland, Six Flags, Belmont Park, Downtown Disney…man, it sure is a good thing your rent is only $3000 a month.
13. A Ruby’s on every pier
Or just piers in general.
Because this list would be defamation to the Californian name if it weren’t mentioned. Animal style, please.
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