You Know You’Re From California When…

With its iconic beaches, breathtaking natural landscapes, and laidback vibe, California has a culture all its own. For those born and raised in the Golden State, there are many funny and relatable things that let you know you’re a tried and true Californian.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: You know you’re from California when you call freeways ‘the’ freeway, you own at least one item of clothing with a California bear emblem, you wear flip flops in winter, and you say ‘hella’ in everyday conversation.

From lingo to lifestyle, this comprehensive guide will cover all the telltale signs, big and small, that confirm you’re a Cali native through and through. Get ready for some serious nostalgia and ‘oh yeah, that’s so true’ moments!

The California Lingo That Gives You Away

Using ‘Hella’, ‘Dude’ and ‘Like’

One of the most distinctive features of California’s unique language is the frequent use of words like ‘hella’, ‘dude’, and ‘like’. Californians have a penchant for using ‘hella’ as an intensifier, similar to ‘very’ or ‘really’.

For example, instead of saying “That’s a very big wave,” a Californian might say, “That wave is hella big!”

‘Dude’ is another popular term used by Californians. It is a gender-neutral term that can be used to refer to both males and females. It is commonly used as a casual way to address someone or express surprise. For instance, one might say, “Dude, did you see that awesome sunset?”

The word ‘like’ is often used as a filler word in California speech. It is used to express hesitation, approximation, or to emphasize certain words or phrases. For example, someone might say, “I was, like, so excited when I found out I got tickets to the concert!”

This usage of ‘like’ has become so ingrained in California lingo that it has even spread to other parts of the country.

Freeways vs Highways

When it comes to roads, Californians have their own way of referring to them. The term ‘freeway’ is used to describe the major highways with multiple lanes and controlled access. These freeways often have a numerical designation, such as the famous Interstate 5 or the iconic Pacific Coast Highway.

They are known for their heavy traffic and sprawling nature.

On the other hand, ‘highways’ in California typically refer to smaller, two-lane roads that connect towns and cities. These highways often offer scenic routes, allowing travelers to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes that California has to offer.

They are usually less congested and provide a more relaxed driving experience compared to the bustling freeways.

Beach Lingo

As a state with over 800 miles of coastline, California has its own beach lingo that sets it apart. One common term you’ll hear is ‘boardies’, which refers to boardshorts, the popular swimwear choice for many beachgoers.

‘Kook’ is another term used to describe someone who is inexperienced or clueless when it comes to surfing or beach culture.

Additionally, ‘gnarly’ is a word often used in California to describe something that is impressive, exciting, or extreme. It originated from the surfing community and has since become a part of the state’s broader beach lingo. So, if you catch a Californian saying, “That wave was gnarly!”

or “That ride was gnarly! “, they’re expressing their enthusiasm for an amazing experience.

For more information on California lingo, you can visit They have a wealth of information about the state’s unique culture and language.

Signature California Fashion

California is not just a state, it’s a lifestyle. And one of the most noticeable aspects of that lifestyle is the unique fashion choices Californians make. From flip flops to California Republic bear wear, the fashion in the Golden State is as diverse as its population.

Flip Flops Year-Round

When it comes to footwear, Californians have a love affair with flip flops. Whether it’s summer or winter, you’ll find people strolling down the streets, hitting the beach, or even attending fancy events in their trusty flip flops.

It’s not uncommon to see someone wearing flip flops with a suit or dress – it’s just part of the laid-back, easygoing California vibe. After all, why bother with complicated footwear when you can slip on a pair of comfortable flip flops and enjoy the sunny weather?

California Republic Bear Wear

If you’re from California, chances are you own at least one piece of clothing featuring the iconic California Republic bear. This symbol, with the bear walking toward the left and a red star in the upper right corner, represents the state’s independent and rebellious spirit.

You can find this bear on everything from t-shirts and hoodies to hats and backpacks. It’s a way for Californians to show their pride and love for their home state. So, next time you visit California, don’t be surprised if you see a sea of California Republic bear wear.

Beach Bleach Blonde Hair

When it comes to hair, Californians often embrace the beach bleach blonde look. This sun-kissed style is synonymous with the laid-back beach lifestyle that California is famous for. Many Californians sport blonde highlights or go all out with a full-on bleach blonde hair color.

It’s a fun and carefree way to embrace the sunny California vibes and fit right in with the surf culture. So, if you’re thinking of a hair transformation and want to channel your inner California beach babe, why not go for the beach bleach blonde look?

California’s fashion choices are as unique and diverse as its people. Whether it’s flip flops, California Republic bear wear, or beach bleach blonde hair, Californians know how to make a statement with their style.

So, if you want to embrace the California fashion scene, don’t be afraid to rock those flip flops, show off your California Republic bear wear, and experiment with your hair color. After all, in California, fashion is all about expressing your individuality and embracing the laid-back lifestyle.

California’s Unique Food Culture

California is known for its diverse and vibrant food culture that is unlike any other. From fresh produce to international flavors, the Golden State has something to offer for every food lover. Here are a few aspects that make California’s food scene truly unique:

Avocado Obsession

If there’s one thing Californians can’t get enough of, it’s avocados. These green, creamy fruits are a staple in California cuisine and can be found in everything from salads to sandwiches. In fact, California is the largest producer of avocados in the United States, with over 90% of the nation’s crop grown here.

The love for avocados in California goes beyond just eating them – it’s a lifestyle. Avocado toast, anyone?

Mexican Food Purists

California has a deep appreciation for Mexican cuisine, and many residents take their tacos, burritos, and enchiladas very seriously. Authenticity is key, with Californians seeking out hole-in-the-wall taquerias and street food vendors that serve up traditional Mexican dishes.

From the vibrant flavors of carne asada to the spicy kick of salsa verde, Californians know their Mexican food and won’t settle for anything less than the real deal.

In-N-Out vs Shake Shack

In-N-Out Shake Shack
Founded in California in 1948 Founded in New York in 2004
Known for their secret menu and “Animal Style” fries Known for their gourmet burgers and frozen custard
Simple menu with only a handful of options Expanded menu with a variety of burger choices
Iconic palm tree logo Distinctive green and white logo

California is home to the beloved fast food chain In-N-Out Burger, which has a cult-like following. Californians proudly boast about their favorite secret menu items and the freshest ingredients used in their burgers.

However, with the arrival of Shake Shack, a popular East Coast burger joint, a debate has sparked among Californians. Some argue that Shake Shack’s gourmet burgers and unique flavor combinations give In-N-Out a run for its money.

The battle between In-N-Out and Shake Shack continues to divide Californians, but one thing is for sure – both burger chains have their loyal fan base.

California’s unique food culture is a reflection of its diverse population and its commitment to fresh, high-quality ingredients. Whether it’s the obsession with avocados, the quest for authentic Mexican food, or the ongoing In-N-Out vs Shake Shack debate, California’s food scene is truly one-of-a-kind.

Laidback California Lifestyle

Living in California comes with a unique way of life that is often described as laidback and relaxed. The state’s sunny weather and picturesque landscapes contribute to this easygoing vibe, making it a paradise for those who embrace a more carefree lifestyle.

Beach Bum Mentality

One of the defining features of the California lifestyle is the beach bum mentality. Californians have a deep appreciation for the coastline and spend their free time soaking up the sun, catching waves, and enjoying beach activities.

Whether it’s a weekend barbecue, a game of beach volleyball, or simply lounging on the sand, Californians know how to make the most of their coastal paradise.

This beach-centric culture is not just limited to the coast. Even inland cities like Los Angeles and Sacramento have their own beach-like destinations, such as man-made lakes and rivers, where locals can still enjoy the water and embrace the laidback vibe.

Hiking Over Clubbing

While many people associate California with its vibrant nightlife and trendy clubs, locals often prefer to spend their evenings hiking in the great outdoors. With its diverse landscapes ranging from towering mountains to lush forests, California offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and connect with nature.

Instead of hitting the dance floor, you’re more likely to find Californians lacing up their hiking boots and hitting the trails. From the iconic hikes in Yosemite National Park to the picturesque coastal paths in Big Sur, there’s no shortage of breathtaking scenery to discover.

Road Tripping the PCH

No discussion about California’s laidback lifestyle would be complete without mentioning the iconic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). This scenic highway stretches along the coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and access to some of the state’s most popular destinations.

Californians love nothing more than hopping in their cars, rolling down the windows, and embarking on a road trip along the PCH. From the stunning beaches of Malibu to the charming coastal towns of Santa Barbara and Carmel, there’s always something new to discover along this legendary route.

The PCH road trip has become a rite of passage for many Californians, attracting tourists from around the world who want to experience the state’s laidback lifestyle firsthand. So, if you’re ever in California, don’t miss the chance to hit the open road and soak up the magic of the PCH.

Quintessential California Experiences

California is known for its diverse and unique attractions that draw visitors from all over the world. If you’re from California, there are certain experiences that are quintessential to the Californian way of life.

From visiting Disneyland regularly to being starstruck by Hollywood, and exploring the beautiful Grizzly Bear State Parks, here are some experiences that make you truly Californian.

Disneyland Regular

If you’re from California, chances are you’ve visited Disneyland more times than you can count. With its iconic castle, thrilling rides, and magical atmosphere, Disneyland is a place where dreams come true for both kids and adults.

Californians have a special bond with this theme park, often becoming regular visitors and even annual passholders. It’s not uncommon to spot a Californian wearing Mickey Mouse ears or proudly displaying their Disneyland souvenir collection.

Starstruck by Hollywood

Hollywood is the epicenter of the entertainment industry, and California residents often find themselves starstruck by the glitz and glamour of the movie stars. From the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the iconic Hollywood sign, Californians take pride in their proximity to the world of show business.

It’s not uncommon to spot locals trying their luck at becoming extras in movies or attending red carpet events. Hollywood is not just a place, it’s a symbol of dreams and aspirations for many Californians.

Grizzly Bear State Parks

California is home to some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the world, and the state parks are a testament to that. The Grizzly Bear State Parks, such as Yosemite and Sequoia, offer stunning landscapes, towering trees, and abundant wildlife.

Californians often take weekend trips or camping expeditions to these parks to reconnect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife spotting. These parks are not just tourist destinations, but also a part of the Californian identity and a source of pride.

For more information on Disneyland, you can visit their official website:

To learn more about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you can visit:

To plan your visit to the Grizzly Bear State Parks, you can check out the official California State Parks website:


From surfer slang to burrito purists, Californians have many little signs, rituals, and ways of life that just feel second nature. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what screams ‘classic California’.

After reading this guide, you surely have an even deeper appreciation for all the unique, wacky, and wonderful things that those born and raised in California know and love. So embrace your Cali roots and let that golden state pride shine, dude!

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