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29 Facts About California That'll Blow Your Mind

29 Facts About California That'll Blow Your Mind

No matter how much you think you know the Golden State, there’s still so much to learn and see.

Roubina Al Abashian


5 min read

August 08, 2021

How well do you know California? No matter how much you think you know the Golden State, there’s still so much to learn and see. Behind all the entertainment, beauty, and culture is a hidden rich history at every corner. Here are the weird, funny, and unexpected facts about California that’ll blow your mind—you’re definitely winning at the next virtual trivia game night.

California is known variously as The Land of Milk and Honey, The El Dorado State, The Golden State, and The Grape State.

Fun Facts About California

  1. The state of California has 36 area codes—the highest number in all of the United States. Texas comes in second place with 27 area codes.
  2. A weird fact about California is that scientists have estimated that in a few million years, Los Angeles and San Francisco will be neighboring cities. The Pacific Plate, on which L.A. is situated, and the North American Plate, where S.F. is located, are slowly gliding towards each other at the rate of 2.5 inches a year.
  3. California’s San Bernardino is the birthplace of McDonald’s. Richard and Maurice McDonald opened the first restaurant in 1940 and used to sell 15-cent hamburgers.
  4. Another interesting fact about California is that it’s the only state in the country to have a chemical element named after it. Californium (Cf) is a rare earth metal and a biological hazard first discovered in the Golden State.
The state motto is Eureka!, a Greek word translated “I have found it!” The motto was adopted in 1849 and alludes to the discovery of gold.

California Gold Rush Facts

  1. The California Dream is the inspiration to gain wealth or fame quickly. This term was created during the Gold Rush when California became the land of richness. The idea of the California Dream spread across the U.S., which in turn became the American Dream.
  2. Mining gold comes with a price. During the heat of the Gold Rush, prospectors had to deal with greedy suppliers who increased the prices of basic needs. A single egg cost what would be the equivalent of $25 today.
  3. Thought you know all the California Gold Rush facts? Did you know that dozens of ships are buried underneath San Francisco’s Financial District today? The district, which was once the city’s original shoreline, witnessed the sinking of almost 40 ships during the Gold Rush. These were submerged because entire crews abandoned them and rushed into the towns and cities to seek their fortune.
  4. Some of the women who lived in the West during the Gold Rush earned higher wages than the miners. Their main responsibilities included doing house chores, which the men were not familiar with. Rumor has it that one woman made over $18,000 just by baking pies.
  5. The California Gold Rush stressed out many, leading people to suffer from mental disorders and emotional breakdowns. Stockton State Hospital was constructed in 1851—then called the Insane Asylum of California at Stockton—specifically to tend the needs of those who suffered from mental and emotional conditions as a result of the California Gold Rush.
Pacific Park, on the venerable Santa Monica Pier, re-creates the amusement parks once dotting the ocean areas along the Pacific Coast.

Los Angeles Facts

  1. The Pacific Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier is the first and only solar-powered one in the world, featuring more than 174,000 LED lights.
  2. Thomas Lincoln Tally opened Tally’s Electric Theatre in Los Angeles on April 16, 1902. It was the first permanent movie theater in the United States that was built for the sole purpose of exhibiting movies.
  3. In 1984, L.A. became the only North American city to have hosted the Summer Olympic games twice, after hosting it for the first time in 1932. Come summer 2028, and the City of Angels will be hosting the event for the third time.
  4. One of the weirdest Los Angeles facts is that the city’s famous for having a number of obscure laws. One of them is that it's illegal to cry on the witness stand.
  5. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner used to have a gift shop, which ran for 19 years—it was called “Skeleton in the Closet.” People would purchase accessories, office supplies, fake tattoos, but not skeletons.
California holds two of the top ten most populous cities: Los Angeles and San Diego.

San Diego Facts 

  1. America’s Finest City has only witnessed snow a handful of times. While the mountains get snow almost every winter, the last time it snowed in San Diego was on December 13, 1967.
  2. One San Diego fact states that the city has almost run out of natural lakes. What you see today is mostly artificial.
  3. The famous San Diego Zoo was home to the famous koalas, Snuggles and Cuddles. Visitors loved the pair so much that the koalas became celebrities in San Diego, and thus, the koala breeding colony was conceived in the zoo. In 1960, the first koala conceived and born outside of Australia, Vicki, was born in America’s Finest City. 
  4. Of all dog-friendly cities in the country, San Diego has the most dog-friendly restaurants per capita, in addition to the best parks and beaches.
  5. The first official Comic-Con International was held in San Diego in 1970. Only 100 people attended the event back then. Today, over 130,000 people gather for Comic-Con.
Located in Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum is the largest museum of its kind in North America.

Sacramento Fun Facts

  1. Sacramento was the Golden State’s capital starting 1852, but it briefly lost the title to San Francisco in 1862. The same year, the Sacramento River had overflowed and due to the chaos, the capital had to be briefly changed.
  2. The battle over the title for “City with Most Trees in the U.S.” is still ongoing between San Diego and Tampa, Florida. Thanks to all the shade created by the trees, the city feels cooler on hot summer days.
  3. The reconstructions of Sacramento that took place after the 1862 flood left portions of the city nine feet underground. The Sacramento History Museum takes visitors underground to learn about the unseen side of the city.
  4. Sacramento was host to the world’s oldest triathlon, Eppie’s Great Race, in 1974. Also known as the “No Swim Triathlon,” this event consists of running, biking, and kayaking (instead of swimming).
  5. Sacramento is also one of those cities with weird laws. Selling or distributing a comic book that shows crime to underage kids is illegal in the State Capital.
During his engagement at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Sausalito.

Interesting Facts About San Francisco

  1. One of the most interesting facts about San Francisco is that the grizzly bear on the state flag once lived in Golden Gate Park. Monarch was one of the last of its kind to live in California.
  2. The size of S.F. varies depending on the inclusion of Alcatraz and Treasure Island. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Francisco is 46.78 square miles, while the San Francisco Department of Public Works estimates the city’s size to be 47.355 square miles.
  3. During the Great Depression, not a single S.F. bank failed. On the contrary, the economy thrived so much that the city managed to build the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.
  4. Walking down the streets of Fog City, you’ll notice that street names are stamped into the sidewalks. That’s because the city wants you to know where you’re going. But the funny part is that some of the names are misspelled, and that’s mainly due to the difficulty of arranging the metal letters and flipping them over.
  5. San Francisco is home to two of the most crooked streets in the world—Lombard and Vermont Streets. While Vermont Street is technically the curviest, Lombard wins fame-wise.

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