There is a lot you can say about California that is generally accepted as true, like the fact that the state has an incredibly beautiful coastline and the weather is wonderfully enjoyable. But there are many, many things that people believe about California that are the stuff of legends, the stuff of rumor, and in some cases, plain old jealousy. The Golden State is a lot of things, but here are a few things it is not. Check out these 15 myths that don’t hold true about California.
1. Everyone speaks like surfers or Valley girls
OK, well, that’s, like, totally not true. While you’re likely to catch a bit of a “California accent,” with 32 colleges in the state university system and dozens of private colleges (like Stanford) there are just as many well-spoken individuals as anywhere else.
2. Everyone surfs
The California coastline is a draw for many residents, but there are just as many who are drawn to the state’s land-based attractions. California offers great locations for hiking, skiing and snowboarding.
3. It’s always sunny
Sunny summer days aren’t guaranteed in California, and that’s even truer as you get near the beach. June Gloom tends to usher in a thick fog that hangs over the beaches and leaves skies overcast most of the day. This phenomenon happens from May through early July.
4. Movie stars can be found walking around everywhere
Well, maybe not everywhere. If you frequent some of the high profile star hangouts you may up your chances of a celebrity sighting. But regular folks outnumber celebrities, even in Hollywood.
5. Everyone eats organic and vegetarian
California ranks fourth out of the top five states for cattle and calves according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. And according to the California Beef Council there are 22 million acres of privately-owned rangeland in California. Much of that beef is served up gourmet-style by some of California’s most notable chefs.
6. Everyone practices yoga
True, you can find a yoga studio in a California city as easily as you can find a Starbucks, but that doesn’t mean everyone practices yoga. There is also boot camp, Crossfit, and Tabata, after all.
7. There is no culture
The mere fact that California is a majority-minority state—meaning no one racial group makes up the majority of the population—indicates that California is a culturally diverse place. The 2011 U.S. Census Bureau statistics estimate that California is white, African-American, Asian-American, Indian and Pacific Islander. Ethnically the state is split between a 38.1 percent Hispanic population and a 61.9 percent non-Hispanic population.
8. There is a lack of open space
California’s coastal areas are sublime. Because of that, developers and people with big bucks have looked to the state’s coastline for its money-making potential. Houses, hotels, and restaurants line much of the California coast, with a few wild and rocky exceptions. However, just a few miles inland you’ll find acres of national forest land, miles of agricultural land, and a surprising amount of grazing land.
9. Thin and beautiful people are everywhere
Because the movie industry is headquartered in the state, there is a fair share of beautiful people. For the most part though, you’ll find the majority of Californians are pretty representative of the rest of America—only maybe a little more tanned.
10. The beaches are like Baywatch
That show has been off the air for years, but first-time visitors still comment on how they expect the beaches to be like Baywatch—hot and hunky lifeguards running around the beach in dramatic slow motion. Most beaches aren’t all that risqué in California. You’ll see all shapes and sizes on the beach, and lots of families out having a good time. And while there are a few nude beaches throughout the state, most of the sunbathers that frequent those places are serious about their enthusiasm for bathing in the buff—curious onlookers aren’t welcome.
11. Earthquakes are no big deal
Earthquakes to Californians are like tornados to Midwesterners or hurricanes to residents of the East Coast. Californians know how to prepare for the event but they aren’t as common an occurrence as outsiders believe. When they do happen the majority of them deliver just minor tremors.
12. Everyone wants to be a movie star or is in the business
California’s economy is diverse. While the movie industry is big in Southern California, the tech industry is big in Northern California (and creeping into Los Angeles as well), agriculture is big in the Central Valley, and winemaking is a major money-making industry throughout the state. In California, being a chef, winemaker, or software developer can hold the same celeb status as being a movie star.
13. It’s an expensive place to live
The cost of living in some parts of California—particularly the coastal areas—is high. San Francisco’s cost of living is insane, but there are a lot of places in the state that are fairly reasonable, while still being located within a short drive of some of the more desirable zip codes.
14. Californians love their sushi
California can be heaven for foodies. If you like seafood—such as sushi—it can be ideal. But not everyone likes seafood. Similarly, not all Californians like sushi. Seafood has a particular taste and if you’re in the group that doesn’t like it—a group which includes a lot of Californians—you probably won’t like sushi.
15. Californians drive everywhere
This is truer in places like Los Angeles, where there is a lot of population congestion and a lack of reliable public transportation. Conversely, many people in places like San Francisco or college towns like San Luis Obispo rely on public transportation or bicycles to get around.