It’s not until you live away from your home that you learn about all the misconceptions that exist about it! Coming from California I’m surprised about how others view my home state – especially non-Americans. So, before you start planning your trip to California, please take note of the below – the truth about California

  • California is not tropical! We have almost every climate type besides tropics. Did you hear about our multi-year drought? We call ourselves the Golden state but we’re more like the brown, dried out state. If you are looking for the tropics, head to Hawaii!
  • And since California is not tropical, please be aware that… the Pacific Ocean is f**king cold!
  • Much of our coastline is temperate and can be chilly and foggy, and not all of our beaches are ideal for sunbathing. In fact, where I’m from (Sacramento) it can get VERY hot during the summer – and we retreat to the Bay Area to take a break from the heat! Have you ever heard this brilliant Mark Twain quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer in San Francisco.” Nuff said.
Dillon Beach, our cool down spot in the summer
  • We have mountains, beautiful mountains (including quite a few volcanoes), and SNOW! Yes I’m from California and I grew up skiing. In fact, I never even surfed until moving to Europe!
  • .. and there’s a good reason I never surfed… the closest beaches to where I grew up are home to great white sharks. In fact, much of the California coastline is in the so-called Red Triangle  — an area that accounts for 38% of shark attacks in the US. Surfing there? No thanks 🙂
  • Want to fit in on your California road trip? Skip renting that Mustang convertible. If you really want to be like a Californian, rent a Toyota Prius so you can drive in the diamond lane with less than 3 people in the car at rush hour.
  • We don’t call California “Cali.” Say it to a Californian and they might cringe. Just be aware that the “Going back to Cali” is by Biggie Smalls, who was an East Coast rapper (so clearly had no idea of how much people hate the word Cali)

See also: What not to miss on your California road trip

  • Californians enjoy some Mary Jane. My boyfriend from the NETHERLANDS, a country famous for its long time legalization of marijuana, made me aware of this. He was surprised at how common it is for people in California to light up. Now its legal of course, so maybe it doesn’t surprise anyone anymore.
  • We might be the state most associated with healthy diets and trendy food (I’m looking at you poke bowls and kale), but we are very proud of In & Out Burger – a fast food chain which is not comparable to any other. When you visit California, you must visit.
  • California is huge…in many ways. It’s not only geographically bigger than many countries, but it’s also got the 6th largest economy in the world.
  • The only parts of California worth visiting are SF and LA: WRONG! There are so many parts of California that visitors overlook. Most people who visit fly into either SF or LA and drive Highway 1 between the two. Of course you will see great places along the way. But you should know there is so much more to see if you keep going north!
    • Other great places to check out are:
      • The Lost Coast : farther up the California coastline, you can visit forests that will remind you of Jurassic Park and see moose in the wild
      • Napa and Sonoma : go a bit farther north of San Francisco and visit the best wine region in the world 😉
      • Lake Tahoe : North east of San Francisco on the border between California and Nevada is Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. During the summer go hiking, biking, or do water sports, or if you’re lucky enough to visit during the winter, hit the slopes.

So, there you have it, the truth about California. Did I miss anything?

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about your home?

The Truth About California

30 Comments

  1. I really can’t think of misconceptions about my home at the moment (except on some political aspects, but that’s another topic. lol) This post is really entertaining. I always enjoy reading posts like this from locals. It widens perspective at the very least! 🙂

  2. Loved my stay in California and equally loved your post while reading as well as looking at beautiful pics.

  3. I like that! I really need to go back to California, such a beautiful state. I also have never been as cold as in SF in the middle of August!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      yeah SF can be pretty chilly, huh? not the place for sunbathing

  4. We have visited California once, near San Francisco and drove down to LA (do you know the way to San Jose blasting, yes we are old and sad!) and were amazed at the diversity of the country side, I thought is was all beaches and blondes! Would definitely go back to find out more. Thanks for the great post. The thing that surprises most people about where we live, is that there are no Kangaroos! We do have cities in Australia people LOL

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thanks for reading! yeah it is quite funny what types of cliches you find out that people have about your home..my notion of Australia is that everyone is laid back!

  5. I will embarrassingly admit I shared some of these misconceptions before reading your post!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      haha, no worries! hope you saw another side now 😉

  6. I have always been fan of California and from your review I have started liking it more. Strange how some people give a very opposite review of California, they should definitely read your blog, I am sure they will change their opinion.

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      hehe, glad it made you like it more! hope to change more people’s minds 😉

  7. I lived in California for 8 years. The June gloom and lack of Seasons in San Diego are worth noting. I’m from New York and it’s not all one big crime ridden city – people used to assume. Lots of different parts of NY as well.

  8. Loving all the information, so well written as well. I have never been to the West Coast, but this makes me want to go straight away. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thank you! definitely plan your visit soon 😉

  9. I lived in Sacramento for a little bit and every time I went to San Fran I was surprised at how cold it was. I now live in San Diego and the beach temperatures are definitely different from the beach temperatures in Florida 🙂

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      yeah so true.. Florida is more the tropical place, not California! but once I moved to Europe I realized that no one knew that haha

  10. Oh, I must admit that I’ve probably thought every one of these things on the list and I’ve never visited California. Great post! 🙂

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thank you! glad I have changed your pereption a bit!

  11. Love this! I’m an east coaster, so I just started to learn all this when my husband started working regularly in San Francisco, and then my daughter began regular trips to LA area for a hospital there. We’ve gotten to be friends with some locals with all of our return trips, and it’s been so eye opening! California is really such an amazingly varied state!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      that’s true, it is so varied. you can do almost anything there, nature wise. glad you have started exploring it!

  12. I’m proud to say that I knew the truth about many of those misconceptions! I’m from Arizona, so maybe I have a leg up since I’ve lived in a neighboring state. I would add something about the Redwood National Forest for sure; it’s amazing!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      that is a great addition, I also love Redwood National Forest – and glad to have you onboard with the real understanding of California 😉

  13. “We’re more like the brown, dried out state.” LOL! That made me laugh! (But it’s also sad with the droughts.)
    Love your punchy style of writing! And I learned some new things about Cali — er — I mean California, as well! 😉 Also, I had never heard that Mark Twain quote before, and I love me a good Mark Twain quote! So, thanks for that! The biggest misconception about where I live (Seattle) is that it rains all the time! Thanks for the entertaining post! 🙂

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      thanks for your kind comment! I also thought it rained in Seattle non-stop… I remember visiting Pike’s Place Market and seeing a shirt that said it rains in Seattle 300/365 days per year, haha!

  14. You got one thing right and that’s In-N-Out is the shit! I can agree with most of your points. I will have to say though Northern and Southern California are very different. Having spent a majority of my time in the south, I will say the water is chilly but surfers are everywhere. Guess it just depends on where you are. California is HUGE!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      Yeah they are very different.. of course I am quite biased coming from NorCal 😉

  15. Hahah, loved reading this post! I’m originally from LA and totally agree with a lot of your points. I actually call California “Cali” though, and so do a lot of my friends, I think it’s a SoCal thing?

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      maybe it is! maybe that is why people from NorCal hate it, haha!

  16. Great information about your state! I’ve been wanting to go to California for awhile now–Monterey to be exact–but haven’t had a chance. I look forward to it though and will try to remember your points–hahah! (Pinned for later). I’m from Tennessee, and all I hear them say in some of the places I’ve been in Europe is “AHHH JACK DANIELS”!

    • gab.grow@gmail.com Reply

      haha that is honestly probably all I know about Tennessee too… except about the Nashville music scene!

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