1. Cali is a city in Colombia.

No self-respecting native Californian will ever refer to home as “Cali.” This is a term used to easily identify tourists and transplants.

2. It’s “San Francisco” or “The City.”

Do not be caught letting “Frisco” or “San Fran” escape your lips. “San Fran” is just lazy, while “Frisco” actually has a story behind it. Herb Caen was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle for more than fifty years (safe to say, a true San Franciscan). “Frisco” was the nickname given to the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway in the late 1900s, and Caen was obstinate that no one refer to his city with “a salty nickname, redolent of the days when we had a bustling waterfront.”

3. We have our own English.

Dank (cool/good), stoked (excited), barge (far away to get to), bomb (cool/good), cutty (sketchy), and gnarly (intense/awesome) are only some of the words you will likely hear if you visit California, especially the northern part of the state. If you don’t understand something, just ask – a lot of the words are so incorporated into our vernacular that we don’t even realize that they are slang.

4. California is not synonymous with Hollywood/Los Angeles.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not all live next to movie stars on streets lined with palm trees. Do not expect to run into celebrities on Hollywood Boulevard, and if you do just keep your cool. The state is not one giant beach full of blondes and surfers, either, and much of the population lives away from the coast.

5. Despite the drought, it does get cold here (it even snows!)

California’s drought began in 2011. We take it very seriously and it has impacted our state by increasing water prices in an economy that is heavily fueled by agriculture. Our reservoirs are dried up, and conservation mandates have been put into effect. However, the entire state still does not see sunshine 365 days a year. Lake Tahoe, Bear Valley, Twain Harte, and Mount Shasta are only a handful of the California’s top destinations for winter sports.

6. We believe in creating safe spaces and individual expression.

People are free to be whoever they want to be and do whatever makes them happy as long as it does not cause harm to others. If you want to wear all pink and walk up and down the central strip downtown carrying a tiny umbrella, no one is going to stop you. We are all about gay, minority, and women’s rights. We do not take closed-minded opinions kindly, so please do not bring them with you.

7. We love food.

You will find everything from sushi to acai bowls to paella. Perhaps our greatest pride is Mexican food: north of the border, California is the best place to find burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and whatever else your heart desires (and I am not talking about Taco Bell). We’ve got over 300 craft breweries to satisfy the beer lovers, while the wine fanatics will feel right at home in Napa or Sonoma. We don’t just make food well, we grow it well, too: the US is the highest exporter of agricultural products in the world, and most of that comes from the Golden State.

8. California is big, and you need a car to see it properly.

One in eight Americans is from California. Depending on your exact starting point, you’re looking at about 1000 miles (1600 kilometers) from top to bottom. San Francisco to San Diego ain’t a quick trip. For a state that cares so much about reducing carbon footprints, one would think we would put more effort into public transportation, but the best way to get from A to B is with a rental.

9. Our nature is incredible.

If you come to California and only visit Los Angeles and San Francisco, you have missed the best of what we have to offer. We have 280 state parks and 27 national parks, ranging from Death Valley in the desert to Sequoia in the redwoods to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. You can climb Half Dome in Yosemite, whale watch in the Channel Islands, and crawl through lava beds in Lassen. Get out of the cities to explore our mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, and more. We promise you won't want to leave.