California is an incredibly diverse state with everything from movie stars to national parks to mountains to wine.
Here are 59 interesting facts about California you might not know.
59 Interesting Facts about California
- Due to its Mediterranean climate, California is able to produce over 17 million gallons of wine each year. More than 300,000 tons of grapes are grown in California each year.
2. There is a popular burger chain, In-N-Out, that is specific to California. The first one opened in 1948 which was California’s first drive-through burger stand. No stores were opened outside California until 1992.
3. The largest living tree in the world is in California’s Sequoia National Park. It is only 275 feet tall, but its circumference is 100 feet and known as General Sherman.
4. The full Californian 1,100 mile long coastline is a national monument, ensuring constant conservation and guaranteeing there will not be new oil drilling within 12 nautical miles of the mainland.
5. California has some weird laws – in Blythe, California, it is illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you own a minimum of two cows.
6. The original Disneyland theme park was built in Anaheim, California in 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built under the management of Walt Disney. It has the world’s largest theme park attendances and has had over 709 million visitors. In 2017 alone it had over 13 million visitors.
7. California is notorious for its many droughts. One of the worst droughts was from December 2011 until March 2017. It was the driest in California in documented history. 164 million trees died in total during this time.
8. In order to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you have to pay a $30,000 nomination fee and you are required to appear at the star’s unveiling.
9. The Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in United States history.
10. Movie makers relocated to Hollywood because they were trying to get away from Thomas Edison who was based in New Jersey. His patents made it difficult to make movies, but in California, the courts were known to rule against patent claims.
11. More movies have been filmed in California than in any other state.
12. California is the only state that has hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932 and 1984. Squaw Valley hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960. The Summer Olympics will be held there once again in 2028.
13. California is the world’s fifth-largest supplier of food.
14. California contains the most diverse environment in the world – it varies from hot desert to subarctic depending on latitude and elevation.
15. In Sunol, California, a dog was elected honorary mayor. He “served” from 1981 to 1994.
16. California was an independent country for one month in 1846. It became the 31st state in 1850.
17. California was the first state in the USA to reach $1 trillion in GDP.
18. Blue jeans were invented in San Francisco by Levis Strauss and his business partner Jacob Davis in 1873. They were initially worn by workers in factories, mines and farms but went on to become a wardrobe staple across the United States.
19. The Hollywood Bowl is the largest amphitheater in the United States. It opened in 1922 and also has a public park and picnic area.
20. The avocado is the official state fruit of California. Fallbrook in San Diego holds an avocado festival every year.
21. In San Franciso it is legal to walk on guns. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the streets of San Francisco had become very dirty. Settlers paved the streets with guns to try to remedy the problem.
22. It is illegal to store anything but automobiles in a garage in San Francisco.
23. San Francisco has a very large dog population. In 2016 San Franciso had more dogs than children.
24. The world’s largest geothermal field is in Sonoma County. Native tribes used these fields for healing and steam baths for over 12,000 years.
25. The fortune cookie was created in California. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles take credit for their invention. San Francisco claims that the fortune cookie was first served by Makoto Hagiwara at the Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden in the 1890s or early 1900s.
26. California was known as the Grizzly bear State. However, as the human population of California grew troubles with bears grew and they began to be hunted for sport. The bears eventually became extinct and California was renamed the Golden State.
27. The official motto of California is Eureka. Eureka is the Greek word for “I have found it” and is normally a cry of happiness. In honor of the California Gold Rush this word became the state’s motto.
28. On an average year California will experience over 100,000 earthquakes. The majority are very small. The state is located on the San Andreas fault and this means it often experiences platonic shifts and the resulting earthquakes.
29. California’s top export is Almonds. Most of the state’s almonds are grown in the Central Valley which is considered to be the world’s almond capital.
30. One of every four Californians wasn’t born in the United States.
31. California has a population of 40 million. This makes it 1/8 of the population of the USA and more than the entire population of Canada.
32. More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States.
33. The highest and lowest points in the continental United States are within 100 miles of each other. Bad Water in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level and Mount Whitney measures approx 14,500 feet.
34. Fresno is the Raisin Capital of the World.
35. Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Sausalito in the bay area when he had an engagement at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. This is where he wrote his last song and biggest hit “The Dock of the Bay”.
36. If California was measured as a country, it would have the 7th largest economy in the world.
37. San Francisco Bay is considered to be the world’s largest landlocked harbor.
38. The first motion picture theatre opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
39. The Country Store in Baker has sold more winning California State Lottery tickets than any other outlet in the state.
40. The Castle Air Museum in Atwater has the largest display of military aircraft in the state.
41. Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge contains the largest winter population of bald eagles in the continental United States.
42. The largest three-day rodeo in the United States is held at the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff.
43. In Pacific Grove there is a law anyone caught molesting butterflies will be charged with a $500 fine.
44. 85% of the water that people in San Francisco drink is pure snow-melt from Yosemite National Park. Their tap water is piped in directly from Yosemite so they have some of the best tasting water in the United States.
45. California suffered a devastating flood from December 24, 1861, through to January 1862. It left the state devastated as close to a quarter of the state’s land property was destroyed. The state became bankrupt and the Central Valley was transformed into a sea.
46. The only California native to become a US President was Richard Nixon.
47. Castroville, California is known as the Artichoke Centre of the World. In 1948 they began an Artichoke Queen event at the Artichoke Festival. The first queen was Marilyn Monroe.
48. California is home to one of the most mysterious unsolved murders in the United States. The torso of Elizabeth Short was discovered over 70 years and her killer came to be known as the Black Dahlia. He or she has never been found.
49. The Hollywood sign was originally built as an advertisement for a real estate company called Hollywoodland. The original sign spelled out the company’s full name. It wasn’t until 1949 that the “land” part of the sign was removed.
50. The Golden Gate bridge also serves as a thermometer. As the bridge is metallic it is good at indicating the temperature.
The metal contracts and expands in response to changes in temperature. The deck level can change by up to 16 feet depending on the weather.
51. In the depression of the 1830s the state of California prohibited the opening of any bank. When the gold rush hit there were no banks to deposit the funds earned.
Some individuals decided to operate as private bankers. Many of these private bankers went on to become some of the most powerful bankers in the United States.
52. The oldest tree in the world is said to be located in the White Mountains of California. Estimate to be over 5,000 years old it is a bristlecone pine tree. The location has not been shared in order to protect the tree but it is said to be near Methuselah.
53. The name California comes from a mythical island paradise that was written about in an early 16th-century Spanish novel.
54. California is the third-largest US state by landmass after Alaska and Texas. It is 1,040 miles long and 560 miles wide. This makes it about the same size as France, Spain and Sweden.
55. Death Valley is officially a desert and one of the hottest places in the world. It recorded the highest temperature ever on the globe on July 10, 1913. It was 134 degrees Fahrenheit.
Death Valley is located on the northern end of the Mojave Desert and is close to the Great Basin Desert.
56. California was founded by Spanish navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. There were approximately 130,000 Native American inhabitants at that time.
Over the next two centuries this newly discovered territory was mostly ignored by Spain.
57. In 1602 a merchant named Sebastian Vizcaino sailed from Mexico to the southern California coast. He named various areas including San Diego, Santa Catalina Island, Santa Barbra and Monterey.
He and his fellow explorers were shocked to discover that California was not an island.
58. The San Francisco 49ers football team was named after the gold seekers who flocked to the state in 1849.
59. Inventions from California include the hula hoop, Barbie dolls, WD-40, the Egg McMuffin, California rolls, cobb salad, the Shirley temple non-alcoholic drink, and the nicotine patch.