So, you’re traveling to California and want to fit in with the locals? Being a true, born and raised Californian, I can tell you that there are some sure fire ways to blend in and some big no- no’s to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb. Here is my list on how to be a Californian.
1. Never Call it Cali
This is the most important one. The only people that call it Cali are people that don’t live in California. You might as well just be saying, “Look at me! I’m a tourist!”
2. “Hella” is Only Acceptable in Northern California
If you say, “Hella” as in, “This is hella cool”, make sure that you only use it in the northern half of the state. If you try to say it in Southern California, get ready for some strange looks from the locals!
3. SoCal and NorCal
Southern California is shortened to SoCal, but Northern California is NOT shortened to NoCal. Keep that “R” in there and call is NorCal all day long!
4. Never Say “Frisco”
Speaking of shortening words, never shorten San Francisco to “Frisco”. I cringe even writing that word. We just hate it and will probably hate you for saying it. Calling it “the city”, ” the bay”, or “SF” are much more acceptable options.
5. Know Whether or Not to Put “The” in Front of The Freeway Number
If you are in Northern California (basically anywhere above the Grapevine), the freeways are named with just the number. For example, you would say, “Take 80, to 65”. Occasionally, you can put the letter, “I”, as in interstate, in front of the number, such as “I 5”. This is only true for NorCal though. If you are in Southern California, you must put the word, “the” in front of the number. For example, you would say, “Take the 91, to the 55, to the 5”. I don’t really know why this discrepancy exists but it is a rule that you must follow.
6. If You’re Not Bragging About In-N-Out, Then Who Are You?
Really, though. If you’re in California, you need to go to In-N-Out. If you want to look like a Californian, you need to brag about how good In-N-Out is. I don’t care if you really think it’s the best or not. Just say it’s the best and you’ll fit right in!
7. It’s Acceptable to Wear Flip Flops and Other Beachwear Pretty Much Anywhere
Fancy pants restaurants, San Francisco, and cold weather excluded, you can always look like you’ve just come from the beach and you’ll fit right in. This means flip flops, ripped or cut off jeans, and some form of messy bun.
8. Get Used to Traffic But Still Complain About It.
It’s always going to take you longer to go anywhere because there is always traffic. This is especially true in Southern California. Californians bond with each other over the shared misery of getting stuck in traffic. Oh, and we have this thing called a Sig Alert that is issued when there is an accident or particularly bad traffic in Southern California. Those are no jokes.
9. Everyday is Taco Tuesday in Southern California.
Tacos and avocados… All day, every day.
10. There’s So Much More Than Hollywood.
A lot of people think that all Californians live next to movie stars and surf all day. This is not true! While some people do surf, the majority of the state doesn’t. You probably won’t see any celebrities and, if you do, just let them be. Real Californians keep their cool. My favorite thing about California is how you can literally find every landscape. You have the big city life in San Francisco and Los Angeles. There’s the beach down the entire west side of the state. You have National forests and beautiful snowy mountains along the east side of the state. Then there’s the desert and Palm Springs in the south eastern portion of the state. We have volcanoes, Redwoods and Evergreens, snowboarding, surf towns, desert hiking, and Disneyland all in one state. Most Californians are so passionate about where they live for all that California offers. It truly is spectacular!
California truly is a beautiful state. Once you get the lingo down, and nail the “always ready for the beach” look, you can fit in with all the locals! Just remember to follow these tips and you’ll blend right in!