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9 Things About California Only Locals Understand

by Hana Nobel Dec 28, 2016

Storing your bathing suit in the bathroom is normal.

Visit a Californian’s home and you’ll find bathing suits hanging from hooks, towel racks and even in the shower. They’re not just decor-the bathroom is the best place to store a swimsuit that is used often do to year-round sunshine and swim weather…at least down south. Why would a Californian put their swimsuit away when it’s most accessible just where it dried and can be grabbed easily to head to Zuma Beach, play volleyball by the Santa Monica Pier, or catch a wave at Point Loma?


Expect to baffle non-Californians when you bring up this word. Slang for “hyperactive” the term came out of Oakland and is a type of music associated with that area. It was created by rapper Keak da Sneak, and is kind of like San Francisco’s version of crunk. But people outside state lines likely haven’t heard the term or the exact music it’s related to. So get hyphy at Bootie SF with your friends and ignore everyone else who doesn’t know what the hell is going on.

We like our oysters from Tomales Bay.

Tupac and Biggie aren’t the only East Coast-West Coast battle we’re facing. Our oysters are better than the Wellfleets, Blue Points, and Duxbury’s from the other side of the country. The California oyster hub is Tomales Bay, where anyone driving up to Sonoma or Napa for family vacation has likely stopped to shuck some oysters at Hog Island. Kumamato, French Hog, Miyagi, and Sweetwater bivalves hold their own.

Blue Bottle Coffee will always beat Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

New Englanders are loyal to their Dunkin in the same way that Californians will defend Blue Bottle until death. Started in Oakand, the best coffee roasters ever have expanded throughout the state. They only sell coffee less than 48 hours out of the roaster. The stores have expanded to New York and Tokyo so Cali ex-pats can still get their fix and not have to walk into that place with the green mermaid on front.

We speak Spanglish-ish.

Growing up here means you can understand basic Spanish, even if you haven’t taken a class in years. Our elementary school Spanish may be forgotten, but a huge Spanish speaking population around our state ensures that we can understand enough to get by, use on a last minute trip over the Mexican border south of San Diego, or order a burrito late night at Tacos Por Favor.

The In-N-Out secret menu is the only menu you should be ordering from.

Sure, visitors get a thrill out of their first In-N-Out Burger, but that thrill has long been gone for locals. Instead, locals know to get their burger “Animal Style with Whole Onion” or to top their regular order with Chopped Chiles. Everyone can enjoy the best burger fast food chain, but only natives know what a Flying Dutchman is or that you can get a Scooby Snack for your canine counterpart before you both head to run along Ocean Beach.

White Christmas isn’t a thing, except in the movies.

Unless you head up north into the Sierra Nevada Mountains or have a big snowfall at Big Bear, it’s unlikely that a native Californian has ever had a white Christmas in their home state. Of course downtown LA and San Francisco bring in ice skating rinks and some places around the state bring in fake snow for kitchy events, but it’s more likely our Christmas morning will be sunny and temperate and spent in a cabin in Big Sur. But that’s the price we pay for year-round stellar weather.

You can choose your weather.

In one day you can drive from the beach in Santa Monica to the snow in Big Bear to the fog in San Francisco. If locals have a free day, they can literally choose their weather and an activity to match. Hike in Topanga Canyon and then zip south a few hours for San Diego sunshine. Or, if you want to enjoy a winter “chill” head east into the San Bernadino mountains. Or go explore the desert in Joshua tree. You choose your own adventure, California style.

The Madonna Inn is a weird place and you must stop there.

Located near San Luis Obispo, this is the kind of spot that is a tourist trap, but it’s so strange that even locals pull over to check out the weird vibe and eat some dessert. Of course, locals don’t actually stay in any of the 110 strange rooms, unless it’s an anniversary or tacky bachelorette weekend, but since you’ve heard about it growing up and have probably seen it every time you drive between SF and LA, as a local you know you have to check it out at least once.

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