If you’re coming to California, chances are you are going to encounter something you totally didn’t expect. Whether its alternative milks in your coffee you’ve never heard of, the vastly different attitudes of someone from San Francisco versus Los Angeles, or snow (yes, snow), California is sure to surprise you. Here are 17 things Californians always have to explain to visitors.
1. Northern California and Southern California like to mock each other.
We have our stereotypes and we’re sticking to them. Northern California is dirty hippies, farmers, and stoners. Southern California is rich valley girls, plastic surgery, and surfer stoners.
2. Coffee orders are allowed to be five sentences long.
Sometimes you just need a soy milk, three shots of espresso, sugar-free, no foam, venti latte. And you obviously need to tell the barista every step of making it.
3. It actually snows in California.
Ever heard of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range? Fresh powder there every winter, dude. Grab your snowboard or skies and check out the ski resorts that are just as great as our beaches.
4. Spanglish is a common language here.
“Hola, chicos. What’s up? Let’s drink some cerveza, vamos!”
Due to our proximity to Mexico and our large Spanish-speaking populations, it only makes sense that Spanish words have leaked into the every day English.
5. Mexican food is religion.
Look, we know that Mexico does Mexican best, but we’re definitely next in line. Plus, burritos and carne asada fries are our thing.
6. Not everyone lives by the ocean.
There is a fair amount of Californians that have never surfed and rarely go to the ocean. Some of us have to travel at least a couple of hours to even catch a view of the Pacific Ocean.
7. It is not acceptable to call it “Cali.”
This is a good way to out yourself as a tourist. Some Californians say “Cali”, but they’re just embarrassing all of us. Same goes for calling San Francisco “San Fran.”
8. There is more to California than LA and San Francisco.
California is not just our big cities. There are the vineyards of Sonoma, the stunning beaches of Big Sur, and the redwood forests of Humboldt. You’re missing out if you don’t go anywhere else.
9. People smile all the time, even if they don’t like you.
We like to be friendly and it is rude to be otherwise. Your waiter/waitress will definitely act like you are their new best friend.
10. Flip-flops are acceptable footwear year-round.
Cold outside? Keep those flip-flops and just throw on an REI sweater. Why would you wear SOCKS?!
11. Weed is legal!
We were one of the first states to make weed legal, and you can find dispensaries not just in the big cities, but in many small towns too.
12. Being vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free will not make eating out difficult.
California is a paradise for alternative diets. The food is so delicious, creative, and healthy, that even meat lovers show up at these restaurants that have been cropping up everywhere.
13. But being poor will…
Eating out in California is not for those on a budget. If you’re trying to save money, it’s best to get your food from a grocery store, but even finding a cheap grocery store can be difficult.
14. You better bring your own bags to the grocery store.
Cities like San Francisco and LA have already banned plastic bags and the rest of the state is well on its way to be plastic bag free. If you need one, you’ll likely have to pay for it.
15. California has the best wine.
We are proud of the alcohol we produce, which is why we drink so much of it. Wine tasting is a usual weekend activity and don’t dare say that French or Spanish wine can compare.
16. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is our state beer.
Drinking Sierra Nevada is the best way to blend in here.
17. California is longer than many countries.
It is estimated that it takes around 15 hours to drive from the top of California to the bottom. So, when you ask someone in Northern California if they often drive to LA, the answer is no. But they’ll take a plane there!
Best Travel Credit Cards
Top offers from our partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
100,000 bonus points
The Platinum Card®
100,000 bonus points
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 bonus points