Movies and TV shows have this odd definition of what California is on the daily. When they bring up a Californian native, they always portray this surfer guy who smokes weed and eats pizza all the time.
While that might have been true back in the nineties, eighties, or even in the seventies, but it is a harmful stereotype that does not show the true beauty of California, which is a cultural melting pot of exotic people, food, and stories!
There is a reason why California is called the Golden State in more ways that one, and here are 87 exciting California facts that will change your mind about the Golden State!
Exciting California Facts | History and Landmarks (1-24)
California Facts: 1-8
1. Native Americans were the original inhabitants of the state. Now, there are a limited number of tribes left.
2. In 1542, a Spanish captain named Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo led an expedition where he toured the coast north of where California is now.
3. In 1579, an English explorer named Francis Drake also claimed an unspecified area in California. He took the state under Queen Elizabeth’s rule and named it New Albion.
4. Farmers of European descent were the state’s earliest settlers but that changed when the Gold Rush happened, with immigrants and emigrants poring in from almost around the globe.
5. Gold was discovered by James W. Marshall in California in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill.
6. California got the name “Golden State” because of the Gold Rush from 1848 to 1855.
7. California’s other names were The Land of Milk and Honey, The El Dorado State, The Golden State, and The Grape State. Thanks, but we’ll stick to the Golden State.
8. California was formerly known as the Grizzly Bear State until they all became extinct.
California Facts: 9-16
9. “Eureka,” the state’s motto, dates back to the time of the Gold Rush.
10. A sister-state relationship is a formal declaration of friendship between two states, regions, or nations that symbolizes mutual goodwill encouraging bilateral cooperation. California has the most sister-state relationships compared to the contiguous United States.
11. In 1992, California was the first state to have an all-woman Senate delegation.
12. Californians are more liberal compared to their fellow Americans.
13. California is the birthplace of the Internet and the semiconductor, bringing about the digital revolution.
14. California is divided into two regions, Upper California (Alta California) and Lower California (Baja California).
15. Monarch the Grizzly was a real bear.
16. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the hills of San Francisco, and the state’s capital Sacramento are all located in the northern part of California.
California Facts: 17-24
17. The state’s official flower is the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
18. The state’s official tree is the coast redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and giant sequoia tree (Sequoia sempervirens).
19. The state’s official animal is the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos californicus).
20. The state’s official colors are Blue (representing the sky) and gold (which represents the color of the precious metal).
21. The state’s official marine mammal is the gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus).
22. The state’s official mineral is, you guessed it, gold!
23. California is the largest producer of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans, providing at least 80 percent of the world’s demands. No wonder they became the state’s official nuts.
24. If Bodie was the Gold Rush Town, then Calico is the silver Rush Town. Both are considered ghost towns.
Exciting California Facts: Nature and Farming (25-34)
California Facts: 25-29
25. Sequoia National Park contains the largest living tree whose trunk is an amazing 102 feet in circumference.
26. In 1925, a sequoia tree standing at over three hundred feet tall in Kings Canyon National Park was named as the nation’s national Christmas tree.
27. Wilderness permits are required if you plan to climb Mount Whitney.
28. San Bernardino County is the largest county in the country, totaling an almost whopping three million acres.
29. California is home to the lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States. They are not more than a hundred miles apart from each other.
California Facts: 30-34
30. Mount Whitney, which is highest point, measures 14,495 feet.
31. Badwater Basin in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level. It is the lowest and also the hottest place in North America.
32. The Mojave Desert takes up about one-sixth of California’s land area with an area more than twenty-five thousand square miles (about sixty-five thousand square kilometers).
33. Clear Lake, with a surface area of 68 square miles, is the largest freshwater lake contained wholly within the state.
34. Compared to other states, California is the largest producer of turkeys.
Exciting California Facts: Californian Culture (35-43)
35. If you utter the word “Cali,” you will stand out as a true Californian native would never say that.
36. Before the whole avocado trend exploded around the globe, avocado on everything was the norm in California.
37. An annual avocado festival is held every year at Fallbrook, thus leading to naming of Fallbrook as the avocado capital of the world.
38. Even if people do not like you, they will still smile at you.
39. Mexican food is a must for any and every household.
40. Fast food restaurant In-n-Out is only operational in California, and they have not publicly commented on opening branches outside California.
41. When you ask a Californian how far a drive to somewhere is, they tell you in minutes instead of miles.
42. Earthquakes are common, but everyone still takes precautions.
43. Northern and Southern Californians have a friendly rivalry.
Exciting California Facts: Notable Political Figures (44-47)
44. Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t the only actor who successfully entered politics. There’s Roseanna Bars of Roseanne fame, Salvatore “Sonny” Bono of Sonny & Cher, Clint Eastwood, and at least a dozen more!
45. Ronald Reagan was an actor before becoming the thirty-third Governor of California and the subsequent fortieth president of the United States.
46. Vincent Bugliosi was an American attorney who spent his eight years in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecuting 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including the highly sensational Charles Mason.
47. Joseph Spinney, Reputed to be the most corrupt politician in Fresno County history, was mayor for only ten minutes.
Exciting California Facts: Famous Oscar-Winning Actors and Actresses (48-59)
California Facts: 48-53
48. Anjelica Houston, a Santa Monica native, is known for her role in Morticia Addams in the Addams Family movie series, the Grand High Witch in Witches, and many more.
49. Angelina Jolie, known for her role as Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
50. Diane Keaton, popularly known for her role in the eponymous movie Annie Hall.
51. Dustin Hoffman, known for his comedic role as Michael Dorsey in Tootsie, and Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man.
52. Gwenyth Paltrow stole our hearts on the silver screen as Wendy in Hook (1991) and matured into a young lady in the recent Avengers series as Pepper Potts.
53. Helen Hunt is a prolific actress with at least a hundred TV and movie credits.
California Facts: 54-59
54. I mentioned Liza Minnelli before, but she had to be mentioned again for winning an Oscar for her performance in Cabaret.
55. Jeff Bridges is known as “The Dude” from the goofy The Big Lebowski movie.
56. Jodie Foster’s role as Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs inspired the often misquoted line in the history of movies.
57. Leonardo DiCaprio stole our hearts as he portrayed Jack Dawson in the moving Titanic movie.
58. The Leaving Las Vegas star Nicolas Cage did not use his connections with Francis Ford Coppola as he began his acting career and won an oscar.
59. Fast Times at Ridgemont High star Sean Penn is a notable actor with a stormy private life; however, his acting chops were up to par as he won numerous awards, including an Oscar for his role as Kimmy Markum in Mystic River.
Exciting California Facts: Iconic Musicians (60-68)
60. Natalie Cole, daughter of the late Nat King Cole, is known for hit songs like “Pink Cadillac,” “This Will Be,” and, with the use of modern technology, an “Unforgettable” duet with her late father.
61. David Crosby, one-third of the iconic Crosby, Stills & Nash trio. David has been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not once, but twice with Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
62. Etta James, popularly known for her hit song “At Last.”
63. Liza Minnelli, a stage and screen actress with the singing chops to match.
64. Snoop Dogg is a well-known rapper who made a name in the early nineties.
65. Ritchie Valens, singer of the highly sensationalized “La Bamba” that rocked the whole world until his untimely demise in 1959 during that fateful plane crash.
66. Brian Wilson was the man who had us surfin’ in the USA when he co-founded the group Beach Boys.
67. Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac, was a California native who used his rap to reach the masses with many social issues.
68. N. W. A. was a hip hop group that was popular for their hit song “Fuck Tha Police,” a protest song regarding the controversial police brutality and racial profiling.
Exciting California Facts: Exciting Authors (69-80)
California Facts: 69-74
69. According to Wikipedia, there are about 680-plus authors who are both California natives and emigrants.
70. John Steinbeck, author of hit novels like East of Eden, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath.
71. Jack London, author of Call of the Wind and the wildly popular White Fang.
72. Joan Didion is an essayist and writer of various topics regarding California.
73. Sally Ride, best known as the first American woman on the moon, was a prolific writer who co-authored various books for children with subjects on space exploration, the solar system, and general topics in helping maintain the Earth.
74. Brett Easton Ellis, author of the best-sellers books Less Than Zero and American Psycho.
California Facts: 75-80
75. Leslie Jamison, author of The Empath Exams.
76. Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts.
77. Rebecca Solnit, a San Franciso native who authored River of Shadows.
78. Rigoberto Gonzales, a progressive writer who is known for his empathic retelling of his life as a gay and poor Chicano immigrant in Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa.
79. Tracy K Smith, a soulful poetry writer.
80. Curt Gentry and Vicent Bugliosi are the genius authors behind Helter Skelter.
Exciting California Facts: Miscellaneous Facts (81-87)
81. Fast food restaurant McDonald’s opened its first store in San Bernardino, California in 1940.
82. The world’s oldest male bodybuilder is not Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Jim Arrington from Venice, California.
83. The first motion picture, or movie, theater opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
84. California is the only state that has hosted both the Summer (1932 and 1984) and Winter (1960) Olympics
85. In 1947, a young woman was crowned Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen. That woman was Norma Jeane, who later on become the actress known as Marilyn Monroe.
86. Blue Jeans were invented in San Francisco with Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, who later on patented the invention in 1873.
87. California also has weird laws. You can only throw a Frisbee at the beach in Los Angeles County with the lifeguard’s permission.
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