88 Fun & Interesting Facts About California

Are you ready to dive into some fun facts about California, one of the most exciting and diverse states in the USA? From sunny beaches to towering mountains and world-famous cities, California is a place where adventure is always just around the corner. So, grab your sunglasses and let’s explore the Golden State!

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First off, did you know that California is known as the “Golden State”? This nickname comes from the famous Gold Rush that happened back in 1849 when thousands of people rushed to California hoping to find gold and become rich. This event helped shape California into a bustling state full of dreams and opportunities.

California is also famous for its amazing beaches along the Pacific Coast. Places like Santa Monica and San Diego have beautiful sandy shores where you can build sandcastles, surf on the waves, or just enjoy a sunny day with your family. The state’s coastline stretches for nearly 840 miles, so you can imagine how many beaches there are to explore!

But there’s more to California than just beaches. It’s also home to the tallest trees in the world – the giant redwoods. These trees are so tall that they can reach heights of over 300 feet; that’s as tall as a 30-story building! You can find these magnificent trees in places like Redwood National Park.

And let’s not forget about Hollywood, located in Los Angeles, where many of your favorite movies and TV shows are made. It’s known as the entertainment capital of the world. Maybe you’ll even spot a celebrity during your visit!

Are you excited to learn more facts about California? From its gold-filled history and beautiful beaches to its giant redwoods and movie stars, California is full of surprises and fun facts. Let’s keep exploring and discover all the amazing things that make California a wonderful place to learn about and visit!

Check out these other cool places with our Facts about Arkansas and our Facts about Indiana.

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Facts About California

  1. Pauline Potter from Sacramento, California is the world’s heaviest woman alive. She weighed 643 lbs at the time of setting this world record.
  2. In 1981, the people of an unincorporated town of Sunol, California elected a dog as the town’s honorary mayor. Named Bosco Ramos, the black labrador “served” as the town’s mayor until 1994. 
  3. 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 became known as the Black Dahlia. He or she has never been found.
  4. 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.
  5. In Sunol, California, a dog was elected honorary mayor. He “served” from 1981 to 1994.
  6. 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 during this time.
  7. A popular burger chain, In-N-Out, is specific to California. The first one opened in 1948, California’s first drive-through burger stand. No stores were opened outside California until 1992.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. California’s official nickname is The Golden State for the fields of golden poppies that bloom in the spring and the discovery of gold in 1948. However, California also goes by many other nicknames like The Land of Milk and Honey, Grape State, The Sunshine State, El Dorado State, and The Golden West.
  12. Kimberly Anyadike is a pilot from Compton, California. In 2009, at the age of 15, she became the youngest African American woman to complete a transcontinental flight across the United States, from Los Angeles, CA to Newport News, Virginia. 
  13. The largest surfboard measuring 12.83 m in length, 3.37 m in width, and 0.41 m in thickness, was ridden by 66 people on Huntington Beach, California on 20 June 2015.
  14. During WWII, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps.
  15. Al “Scarface” Capone, a notorious gangster, was the most infamous inmate at Alcatraz, serving 4.5 years during the 1930s.
  16. On April 18, 1906, an earthquake hit California which resulted in the death of nearly 3000 people and a loss of over $500 million in property damages.
  17. In California, you can’t hunt game while you’re in a moving vehicle, except for hunting whales. However, the state prohibits hunting whales.
  18.  California has the highest geographical point in the contiguous 48 states with Mount Whitney. Standing around 14,505 feet tall, Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the Sierra Nevada.
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  1. California takes its name from a fictitious island from a Spanish novel. The Spaniards referred to the lands from Alta California to Baja California as Las Californias, derived from a mythical island. A popular 16th-century Spanish romance novel called Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián) describes the island as rich in gold and pearls. 
  2. 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.
  3. With 19 major professional sports leagues, California has the most major sports leagues among all of the states. This includes the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors for the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Los Angeles Rams for the National Football League (NFL), and the Anaheim Ducks for the National Hockey League (NHL). 
  4. The famous Windows XP wallpaper was taken in California.
  5. A palm and a pine tree stand next to each other in the middle of California. On Highway 99, near the midpoint of California, there’s a landmark that people often refer to as “Where the Palm Meets the Pine”.
  6. California’s Death Valley is North America’s hottest desert and driest place. Badwater, an unincorporated community in Inyo County, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.
  7. In 1949, the income from agriculture in the state was around $2.3 million. However, after some forty-five years in 1995, the same income grew to a whopping sum of $2.6 billion. It also produces walnuts, pistachios, and almonds in the largest quantity in the U.S
  8. California produces about 90% of all wine in the US. The state grows over 3.3 million tons of wine grapes on over 540,000 acres of land on an annual basis. 
  9.  In September 1850, California was admitted as a state with its present boundaries, becoming the 31st state of the US.
  10. California has 58 counties, including the largest one in the US. San Bernardino County covers 20,105 square mi2 (52,072 km2), which is even bigger than Maryland, Hawaii, or Massachusetts.
  11. Farmers transport billions of bees to California to pollinate almonds.
  12. 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.
  13. There are no wild grizzly bears in California. Despite formerly being known as “The Bear State”, California’s nickname changed to “The Golden State” following the bears’ extinction.
  14. In 2016, Dominic Devine, 10, was bitten by a venomous snake in Lake Mathews, California. And the treatment cost him $350,000, thanks to the expensive antivenom. 
  15. The Mojave Desert, at more than 25,000 square miles (65,000 square km), occupies one-sixth of the land area of California.
  16. California is considered the world’s artichoke capital, and in 1947, Norma Jean began her journey there. She became the first Artichoke Queen of Castroville, and later, she became a world-famous and award-winning actress known as Marilyn Monroe.
  17. In 2001, the “Dot-Com Bubble” burst, causing thousands to leave Silicon Valley for the first time.
  18. The world’s oldest male bodybuilder Jim Arrington is from Venice, California. He was born in 1932 and has been bodybuilding for the past 70 years.
  19. 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 to protect the tree but it is said to be near Methuselah.
  20. The first motion picture theatre opened in Los Angeles on April 2, 1902.
  21. 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 became a wardrobe staple across the United States.
  22. The avocado is the official state fruit of California. Fallbrook in San Diego holds an avocado festival every year.
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  1. The Gold Rush was the largest mass migration in United States history.
  2. It is illegal to store anything but automobiles in a garage in San Francisco.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, known as General Sherman.
  5. California’s top export is Almonds. Most of the state’s almonds are grown in the Central Valley, considered the world’s almond capital.
  6. Living in California can be expensive. Home to big celebrities and companies and an even bigger population, California has the most expensive ZIP codes in America. In 2019, California claimed 91 out of 100 of the most expensive ZIP codes in the United States.
  7. The Grizzly bear is one of the state’s most notable symbols. It is found on both the state flag and seal. It was designated as the official state animal in 1953.
  8. 7.5% of California’s land is protected in state and national parks, the 3rd highest of any state (after Hawaii and Alaska).
  9. Spanish explorers named Alcatraz Island “La Isla de los Alcatraces” in 1775, translating to “Island of the Pelicans.”
  10. California is the most biologically diverse state in the U.S. It has more than 40,000 plant and animal species.
  11. The state highway signs of California have a shovel-like shape.
  12. The internet originated in California. Dating back to the 1960s, the US Department of Defense funded a network called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). ARPANET allowed multiple computers to connect and communicate through a single network with the use of packet switching. 
  13. In Pacific Grove, there is a law: anyone caught molesting butterflies will be charged with a $500 fine.
  14. 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.
  15. The Hollywood Bowl is the largest amphitheater in the United States. It opened in 1922 and also has a public park and picnic area.
  16. 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.
  17. Due to its Mediterranean climate, California can produce over 17 million gallons of wine each year. More than 300,000 tons of grapes are grown in California each year.
  18. San Francisco Bay is considered to be the world’s largest landlocked harbor.
  19. 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.
  20. Clear Lake is the largest natural lake wholly within the state. It has a surface area of 68 square miles.
  21.  In 1821, California became a province of Mexico, after Mexico gained its independence from Spain. This would last until 1848. Besides California, it included all of Utah and Nevada, and parts of Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.
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  1. San Francisco Bay is one of the world’s largest landlocked harbors and the Port of Oakland is one of the largest cargo ports in the United States.
  2. California has the highest agriculture output out of all the US states.
  3. The first-ever supersonic flight was achieved over Lake Muroc, California in a Bell-XS 1 rocket aircraft. The captain of the flight, Charles Elwood Yeager, reached Mach 1.06 at an altitude of 42,000 ft. The flight happened on 14 October 1947.
  4. The first McDonald’s fast-food restaurant was opened in San Bernardino, California in 1940.
  5. California has been inhabited by indigenous peoples for as long as 19,000 years.
  6. The first motion picture theater was opened in Los Angeles on April 02, 1902.
  7. Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge contains the largest winter population of bald eagles in the continental United States.
  8. 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.
  9.  In terms of religious faith, Californians are 63% Christian, 9% non-Christian, and 27% unaffiliated.
  10. California has nine national parks, making it the state with the most number of national parks.
  11. On July 10, 1913, the hottest temperature on Earth was recorded in Death Valley, 134.1 °F (56.7°C). The record remains to this day.
  12.  The state produces a whopping 80% of the world’s almonds. The state is also the nation’s top producer of lemons, apricots, avocados, dates, figs, grapes, kiwi, etc.
  13. California has the lowest high school graduation rate in the US, at 83% (the national average is 89.6%). It also has the lowest literacy rate, 76.9% (national average: 88%).
  14. The only California native to become a US President was Richard Nixon.
  15. San Francisco has a very large dog population. In 2016 San Franciso had more dogs than children.
  16. Californians are young. The average median age is 37, in comparison to the rest of the country, which is 38.5.
  17. California contains the most diverse environment in the world – it varies from hot desert to subarctic depending on latitude and elevation.
  18. 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 attendance and over 709 million visitors. In 2017 alone it had over 13 million visitors.
  19. 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.
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  1. California has the most students in the country (just under 2 million) and hosts the most international students in the country (134,000).
  2. The Castle Air Museum in Atwater has the largest display of military aircraft in the state.
  3. California has some weird laws – in Blythe, California, it is illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you own at least two cows.
  4. As of 2023, California had the highest total COVID-19 case count (just under 12 million) and death count (1.2 million), but not the highest rate in the country.
  5. 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”.
  6. It also has the lowest point in North America. The Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, California, has a depth of 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. 
  7. California is also home to the “giant sequoia” – arguably the largest living organism on earth and the world’s most massive tree. It is also one of the longest-lived of all organisms on earth. 
  8. California declared itself the independent California Republic in 1846. This only lasted for a month.

Do you have more facts about California? Share them in the comments so we can add them to the list!

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