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10 Things SoCal People Will Never Understand About NorCal People

Californians have a lot in common–our love of overpriced lattes, our disdain for the haughtiness of the East Coast, and an enduring passion for tacos.

Yet, anyone familiar with its terrain knows there’s a distinctive divide between its two halves: Southern California (SoCal) and Northern California (NorCal).

Let’s dive into 10 things that always seem to leave our SoCal neighbors scratching their heads about us NorCal folks.

1. The True Love for Fog

Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands and Berkeley Pier visible from across the San Francisco Bay from Berkeley, California on a foggy, hazy day, June 5, 2018.

While SoCal celebrates its perpetual sunshine, NorCal has an endearing relationship with Karl the Fog (yes, San Francisco’s mist has a name, and a Twitter account). Those fog-kissed mornings in the Bay Area have a unique charm of their own.

2. “Hella” Is Hella Important

For those in SoCal, the term “hella” might sound alien or even amusing. But up north, using “hella” to mean “very” or “a lot” is hella standard.

3. The Burrito Debate

NorCal burritos FTW

San Francisco’s Mission District burritos have a cult following. Yes, the SoCal vs. NorCal burrito battle is eternal, but NorCal burrito enthusiasts stand firm by their choice.

4. Why Layers Are Essential

While SoCal’s climate screams consistency, NorCal’s weather is notoriously unpredictable. Hence, layering isn’t just about style; it’s an absolute necessity.

5. Redwood Over Beaches

Redwood Trees in Tilden Regional Park botanical garden
Redwood Trees in Tilden Regional Park botanical garden

SoCal’s beaches might be iconic, but the awe-inspiring redwoods of NorCal offer a different kind of splendor. Walking amidst these towering trees feels like stepping into another world. BTW, here’s some Muir Woods tours we recommend if you want to see these awesome trees.

6. Dungeness Crab vs. Fish Tacos

Dungeness crab is a NorCal obsession

Fish tacos resonate with SoCal’s culinary identity. Meanwhile, in the north, Dungeness crab reigns supreme, embodying the coastal flavors of NorCal.

7. Sourdough Everything

Everwhere you go in NorCal, someone will hand you sourdough

In NorCal, sourdough isn’t just a type of bread; it’s an obsession. Its distinct tangy taste is celebrated in many culinary forms beyond just clam chowder bowls.

8. The Importance of Tech Talk

Two employees of Google Inc, known colloquially as Googlers, ride colorful Google Bikes at the Googleplex, headquarters of Google Inc in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, April 7, 2017.

With Silicon Valley rooted in its heart, tech jargon isn’t just reserved for boardroom discussions in NorCal. Conversations about “unicorns,” “start-ups,” and “VCs” are commonplace.

9. Goat Yoga

Goat Yoga in Half Moon Bay
Goat Yoga in Half Moon Bay

Yes, it’s a think in NorCal! And it’s exactly what it sounds like–you do yoga, but with baby goats. Would SoCal people ever be comfortable looking this ridiculous? We think not.

10. The Real Cold Water

Aerial view of Manhattan Beach in Half Moon Bay, California, May 27, 2022.

A dip in the Pacific on a NorCal beach is an experience of its own. The icy waters in places like Half Moon Bay might be a tad too cold for some, but for NorCal folks, it’s refreshingly invigorating.

Regardless of these differences, it’s the diverse tapestry of cultures and landscapes that makes California truly golden. Celebrating these differences adds to the state’s charm and allure. Whether you’re from SoCal or NorCal, it’s all California love!

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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