When you think of California, what usually springs to mind? Perhaps more than other parts of America, the Golden State attracts a good few stereotypes – some fair, others less so, but plenty with a healthy dose of truth. Thanks to reality shows and social media, we're exposed to a good number of clichés about California that are actually true.

    Whether it’s the riches and starry glamour of Hollywood, the happy-go-lucky, vegan- and yoga-positive Los Angeles lifestyle or just the sizeable concentration of surfer dude types, California and its residents certainly carry a strong global reputation for themselves. The best way to really know for sure is by booking a trip and experience it first-hand.


    Californians are crazy about vegan food

    It’s an increasingly popular lifestyle

    Fuelled in part by the image most of us have of Californians as healthy and happy, with glowing skin and an active lifestyle, the golden state is also widely regarded as being a hotbed of veganism. We often think of Californians as chowing down on an endless supply of glowing green smoothies, nutritious Buddha bowls and avocado toast (the latter was popular here long before it became a thing elsewhere!), all without a trace of animal products in sight. 

    Now of course nowhere is everyone vegan, but – despite the inevitable disagreement of some who use the popularity of regionally famous burger chains like In-N-Out as evidence of locals’ carnivorous diets – there’s little escaping the fact that the vegan lifestyle is hugely popular here, and environmentally conscious Californians are more open to foregoing meat than those in many other locations.


    Almost everyone's a surfer

    Cue surf guitar riffs

    It’s quite possibly the ultimate California cliché: the idea that every resident of this fine state is born with both the famous surfer drawl to their accent and the innate ability to glide effortlessly across the waves – while looking totally ripped and utterly irresistible in the process. 

    That’s of course not true, and you’ll find plenty of Californians who aren’t surfers, have simply never learned to surf, or otherwise, don’t quite fit the stereotype. Then again, there’s no smoke without fire, and California is known as a surfer’s paradise precisely because almost everyone you meet will be at least something of a fan of the surf.


    Everyone wants to be in showbiz

    Being part of the glitz and glamour

    Hollywood, baby! This is the state that is known first and foremost for its movie and show business industry – and not just in the US, either, but all over the world. Find yourself marooned on some tropical island, and chances are the word ‘Hollywood’ will roll off the tongues of locals more quickly than ‘California’. Not everyone in California can be in showbiz, of course. 

    However, all that hype does weave its way into their everyday lives – you’re still more likely to bump into a celeb here than elsewhere – and there’s a touch of glamour in the air as a result. Of course, this is helped by the fact that California is also home to plenty of folks who have relocated precisely in the hope of getting famous.


    Californians are fitness freaks

    An affinity for fitness goes hand in hand with Californians’ keenness to follow a healthy diet, and really this should come as no surprise somewhere with predominantly left-leaning, liberal political beliefs and the corresponding desire to take good care of both self and planet.

    Nor is it to be entirely unexpected that, in the home state of the Hollywood film industry, a premium is placed on how you look – hence, likewise, the prevalence of plastic surgery, alongside on-trend exercise classes like yoga and Pilates. Not everyone’s a total gym addict but keeping fit and healthy has long been a more common pursuit here than it is in many other places.


    Californians are super friendly

    The cheery Golden State

    The stereotype holds that the left-of-centre, liberal, happy-go-lucky and even hippy-ish atmosphere in California – together with the image of catching rays and riding waves – means that everyone in this bright and beautiful state is always friendly and perky. 

    California, of course, has its fair share of problems and challenges just like any other state, and there are certainly people in the Golden State who share neither of that shining positive outlook nor those same political beliefs. But we’d still say the weather and atmosphere go some way to meaning the majority of Californians you’ll encounter are pretty cheery folk.


    Californians love the beach

    It’s part of the Californian culture

    Yes, California has inland areas too, meaning not everyone is lucky enough to live right by the sea. Yet the coastal vibe nevertheless runs deep in the Californian culture, as does a love of the beach itself. It’s not for nothing that the Golden State is home to such a concentration of pro and amateur surfers, after all – and little sums it up better than the image of some of its most beautiful sandy stretches. 

    Not every Californian you meet is going to spend every moment of their leisure time soaking up the rays on the beach… but many do, and the rest will know others who do.


    Everyone lives for Mexican food

    Tacos here are probably the best outside Mexico

    Another popular food-related misconception about Californians is that they’re all obsessed with In-N-Out, a beloved regional fast food burger chain that, much to the despair of visitors from elsewhere in the US, isn’t available nationwide. That’s something Cali folk like to tease out-of-towners about, but don’t let it fool you into thinking Californians are genuinely obsessed with burgers and fries. 

    No, if there’s a cuisine that garners unparalleled adulation down here, hands down it’s Mexican. Californians are taco aficionados who will swear blind that those found in the Golden State are the best you’ll taste anywhere outside Mexico itself.


    The roads are permanently gridlocked

    No wonder they prefer spending more time in the waves

    There’s simply no getting around this one: California’s traffic is bad. There’s a reason that drivers in Los Angeles and beyond have a reputation for being, ahem, assertive – it’s simply because they need to be. 

    Head out onto the roads in California and you’re almost certain to get caught up in a jam. In fact, the traffic in the southern part of the state has repeatedly been named America’s worst. Perhaps that’s why fun-loving Californians are so keen to spend their time surfing the congestion-free waves instead – and maybe we should all just give in and join them.


    The weather is always dry and balmy

    Gloriously… it’s a summer destination

    Part of California's allure, especially for those of us who live elsewhere, is its gloriously balmy, subtropical-Mediterranean weather, blessing its residents with naturally glowing skin. Those surf-friendly beaches wouldn’t be half as enticing if the sun weren’t shining and the temperatures weren’t in the high double digits. 

    It’s true that there’s some reasonable variation in conditions and temperatures both around the state and depending on the time of year – the north gets its share of cooler days. But overall, this is a summer destination, and what Californians rank as cold would have plenty of the rest of us breaking out our T-shirts, sandals and sunscreen.


    North and South are like chalk and cheese

    Like 2 sides of a coin

    In truth, most of the clichés and stereotypes about California that make it out of the state – and especially overseas – primarily depict its southern portion, SoCal. But northern and southern California – and by extension, their people – are so radically different that they might as well be 2 separate states altogether. 

    In the north, SoCal’s famously balmy weather gives way to sometimes freezing temperatures, rain, and snow. And there are clichés bouncing between the 2 neighbours: northern Californians, for example, commonly stereotype their southern friends as far more superficial than they consider themselves.

    Chris Wotton | Contributing Writer

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