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7 Assumptions We Need to Stop Making About Northern Californians

by Julia Kitlinski-Hong Oct 18, 2016

1. Everyone smokes weed.

As the birthplace of the Summer of Love, and all the drugs that came along with it, it is not uncommon to think marijuana is often smoked in Northern California. It is true that in cities like San Francisco and Oakland, smelling weed on the street happens frequently. Though surprisingly, San Francisco came in after several Colorado and Southern Californian cities when it comes to weed smoking, based on criteria like marijuana dispensaries per capita, number of residents that hold a medical marijuana card and head shops per capita.

2. We only eat gluten-free and organic.

It is true there is no shortage of health food options in Northern California, from co-ops like Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco to the gluten-free/vegetarian/vegan/organic dining options that are widely available. Though not all North California survives solely on juice cleanses and kale. There is plenty of delicious Asian food like Chinese, Burmese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean.

There is also a lot of hearty Mexican food, including the Mission burrito — a supersized version of a regular burrito — that is guaranteed to send you into food-induced lethargy.

3. We all work for a tech company

Northern California is often associated with tech companies due to the presence of Silicon Valley, but the five top employers in the Bay Area are not actually tech companies, but instead have to do with healthcare, the food industry, finance, education and travel. They are Kaiser PermanenteSafeway Inc.Wells Fargo & Co.Stanford University and United Airlines. The top tech company employer is Oracle Corporation, which specializes in cloud applications and platform services.

4. We’re at the beach year-round.

There are plenty of beaches in Northern California, but they tend to be a bit more rugged compared to the ones down south. During the wintertime, going for a day at the beach is not really a thing, unless you bring your parka with you. Even during the summertime, fog and the wind are usually an issue.

An exception is in late September and October when the fog begins to lift, and temperatures hover around the 60s and 70s. During this time, the beaches will be packed with locals who are making sure to not take days like these for granted.

5. We’re all liberals.

With very liberal cities like Berkeley and San Francisco, it is often assumed that Northern California as a whole has similar political beliefs. While most of the cities are liberal, there are places like Folsom in Sacramento County and Redding in Shasta County that are more conservative. There are also cities like Modesto in Stanislaus County and Pleasanton in the Bay Area that are closer to the middle when it comes to voting.

6. We only live in the Bay Area

As the region that is most heavily populated, the Bay Area can often be seen as what defines Northern California, but there are a lot of other places that make up this area as well. On a map, Northern California takes up more than half of the state from Del Norte County in the North to Monterey County in the South. Farther up the coast, there are scenic small towns like Fort Bragg, Eureka and Mendocino.

There is also, of course, Sacramento, the State Capital and Gold Country located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Right below the Bay Area, there is Monterey County, where beautiful coastal cities like Monterey and Carmel are situated.

7. We only live on the coast.

With coastal cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Monterey, it is easy to picture that most cities in Northern California are on the coast. There is, in fact, a great diversity of climates, from mild foggy temperatures for places closer to the ocean to dry, desert landscapes further inland.

One of the interesting things about Northern California is that it can be twenty degrees colder on the coast compared to an hour away inland, due to the marine layer that keeps the coastal cities cooler.

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