35 Things Only Californians Know


By: Olivia Cantor

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

If you're Californian, you may know some things that the rest of the nation probably doesn't... including the fact that coastal summers are more often foggy than sunny, that the capital isn't Los Angeles or San Francisco. You also know that rents are hideously high in any of the famous coastal cities, from San Francisco and Oakland, through Santa Barbara and Ventura, all the way to San Diego. 

We love California despite its many drawbacks -- the high cost of living in Silicon Valley, the L.A. area and anywhere near the beach! Yes, we have to put up with earthquakes, mudslides, and traffic jams. But we also enjoy some of the most varied and freshest local produce to be found anywhere. 

We entertain the whole world with the music, movies, and television shows we produce, and our universities -- especially Berkeley, UCLA, and Stanford, have given the world scientific breakthroughs and Nobel Prize winners. There's even an element, Berkelium, named for the city of Berkeley and the crown jewel of California's public university system, UC Berkeley. 

But we digress (we're just so damn proud!). Do you know where California got its name? What its main cash crops are? What is its state fossil? (Yes, there really is a state fossil). Prove that you bleed California gold with our quiz!

What famously expensive metal had many people going west to California?

Historically, gold has attracted people to California. To give you an idea, California's population went from 14,000 to more than 250,000 in a few years, all because of the shiny metal.


A toast! California produces 90% of this in the entire country. What is it?

California produces more than 3 million tons of wine grapes a year. These are turned into 90% of all wine produced in the country.


Some sources say Southern California has tens of thousands of these every year. What is this shaky number referring to?

Southern California is beset by thousands, some say tens of thousands, of earthquakes every year. Luckily, most of them are so small, you won’t feel them at all.


Pop culture products of the global entertainment industry could be traced back to Los Angeles. What's this industry commonly called?

Hollywood is an entertainment district located in Los Angeles. While many popular film-related attractions are found in Hollywood and Vine, other interesting pop culture places are found all over the district and just a bit beyond it.


What's the capital of California?

Sacramento is the known capital of California today; it's a bustling city.


California is still the leader in this important industry in the United States. What is it?

California is an agricultural powerhouse in the US. In fact, California is the lead agricultural supplier in the country for some food products like raisins, walnuts, and peaches.


What is the official color of the Golden Gate Bridge?

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is colored orange. The paint coating has zinc and acrylic ingredients.


El Camino Real is the old name of this coastal road that traverses the west coast. What's it called now?

US Route 101 is also known as Highway 101. Besides California, it also runs through Washington and Oregon.


What is developed in Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley is one of the leading places to find many tech companies. The name itself came from a weekly article series, in a publication.


What famous House of Mouse is located in Anaheim, California?

Anaheim in California is home to Disneyland, the amusement park built around Walt Disney's animated characters. It first opened in 1955, and since then, millions have visited.


Why is the term "Eureka" so important to Californians?

"Eureka" is the official motto of the state. It means, roughly, "I found it." Given the California's rich history in minerals, it's no surprise that this is the motto.


Which country used to own California before it joined the USA?

Mexico had control of California from 1821. By 1849, it was set to join the United States, which it did in 1850.


What famous food and prediction tool was supposedly invented in California?

Legend has it that though the fortune cookie is served in Chinese restaurants, it is actually from a Japanese tradition; Los Angeles and San Francisco business owners have claimed credit for creating the fortune cookie.


This Californian is arguably the most famous of the Californian Presidents and was a successful actor prior to that. Who was he?

Ronald Reagan was a successful and famous actor who went on to become a very successful politician. It has been argued that his reputation as an actor helped him garner more votes in his political career.


Brothers Dick and Mac opened the first restaurant with this name in California. What was the name of the restaurant?

Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened the first McDonald's in San Bernardino, California. It served hamburgers and barbecue.


Which place in California is known for being the driest place in the United States?

Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in the United States. Temperature readings can reach a scorching 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and the place has an average of only 2 inches of rain a year.


Who were the San Francisco 49ers named after?

The 49ers originally referred to people who went to California in 1849. They were hoping to get lucky with mining for rare minerals, or with starting their lives over.


Mount Whitney in California isn’t just a tall tale. What is it famous for?

Mount Whitney is 14,505 feet tall. That makes it the tallest mountain in the 48 connected states.


The General Sherman tree at the Sequoia National Park is a big deal. What world record does it hold?

The General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world, if you measure it by volume. It's said to be 102 feet or more if you try to tie a string around the trunk.


What's so special about a light bulb in the Livermore-Pleasanton fire department in California?

The Centennial Light is a light bulb in the Livermore-Pleasanton fire station that has been around since 1901. It's a hand-blown bulb with a carbon filament inside.


One of the world's longest-running jazz music festivals happens yearly in this part of California.

The Monterey Jazz Festival began in 1958. Since then, many jazz legends have performed here.


Methuselah is a well-named bristlecone pine tree in California's White Mountains. What is its claim to fame?

Methuselah the tree is known to be the oldest tree in the world that isn't cloned from another. Some scientists estimate it to be more than 4,500 years old.


California has crazy weather, but what summer and winter versions of this event were both held there?

California is perhaps the only US state to have hosted the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. In this case, the Summer Olympics have been held in Los Angeles, while Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe hosted the Winter version.


Sacramento is the current capital of California. However, what was the first one?

San Jose was the first capital of California. It was only for a short time, though, lasting from 1849 to 1851.


San Francisco Bay's a special type of harbor, thanks to its shape. What is it called?

San Francisco Bay is an almost-enclosed body of water, or landlocked bay. Such places are usually safe harbors in a storm.


Aside from California's rich mineral resources, why else is it called the Golden State?

Aside from California's rich natural resources, it's called the Golden State because of the national flower. The Golden Poppy, as it is called, can make whole fields look like they are covered in gold, thanks to their color.


There is a tree named Hyperion, and it's hidden somewhere in California. What's so special about this tree?

Hyperion is a tree that's 379 feet tall. The location's kept a secret, presumably for the security and safety of the tree.


What was California named after?

California is supposedly named after a fictional character, Queen Califia. Ancient mapmakers traced it from a book about the area, where it is now.


Strangely, California has a state fossil. What is the name of this ancient feline?

California has a state fossil, and it's the saber-toothed cat. It's known as Smilodon Californicus, and sample fossils have been found in the La Brea tar pits.


Why was California known as the Grizzly Bear State?

California used to have a rather large grizzly bear population. As times changed, people saw fit to shift the title to The Golden State.


What bird is raised in more numbers than any other state, for food?

Apparently, Californians have been raising turkeys in record numbers as food. It makes sense, as turkeys are a practical food source for serving many people.


Almonds are a major cash crop for California. How much of the USA's almond supply is grown in California?

California practically produces most, if not all the almonds that are consumed in the country, and manages to export most of the world's supply of almonds as well.


It may sound like a dish, but what is the Hollywood Bowl?

The Hollywood Bowl is an outdoor amphitheater. It is also the official home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.


Fallbrook, in California, claims to be the capital of the world for this green fruit. What is it?

Fallbrook is the self-titled Avocado Capital of the World. As can be expected, it is known for its numerous avocado groves, and an avocado festival.


Valley of Heart's Delight sounds a bit like a horror film. What is its current, more high-tech name?

The Valley of Heart's Delight in California used to be a scenic area full of fruit trees. However, when Intel set up a silicon chip factory in the 1960's, things became much more technology-based, and Silicon Valley was born.


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