7 differences between Northern and Southern Californians

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IT’S A BIG STATE, so it makes sense that Northern and Southern California have their differences. It’s dangerous to claim that one half is better than the others, but everyone has their opinion. I’ll keep mine to myself (I have lived in both) and instead give some differences I’ve noticed, so you can decide on your own.

1. Reaction to weather.

I’ve had friends come to visit me California in December and they’ve packed only shorts and tee-shirts. This seems like a great idea, until they realize that the July weather in San Francisco is totally different than the weather in Los Angeles. And even if the number on the thermometer is the same, the reaction to weather is MUCH different. 60 degrees in San Francisco means everyone runs out in tee-shirts to Dolores Park. 60 degrees in San Diego means people wear sweatpants, a fleece, a beanie, and stay inside to avoid the cold

2. The slang.

The language in NorCal is “hella” cool, and bumping into anyone on the street in SoCal can be fixed with a “sorry, bro.” Because there are a lot of people that move from north to south, and vice versa, you’ll find this slang statewide, but some words are still more common where they started.

3. The level of “chill.”

When I originally moved to California, I assumed everyone was calm. That’s true, but the vibe of SoCal is definitely more chill than up North. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the yoga, but San Diegans and Los Angeles residents are more down with “whatever brah” than their Northern brethren. Perhaps it’s because their fellow CA residents in NorCal always seem to be working on their startups. However, if you go ever FURTHER north, you’ll hit Humboldt county. That’s where it’s really chill… thanks to being the hub of growth for a certain medicinal plant.

4. Burrito Service.

Some of the best burritos in NorCal are served at holes in the wall. People line up at all hours to get a foil-wrapped meal, but the line is especially long after the bars close. But in SoCal, the best burritos and tacos come on four wheels. The omnipresent taco trucks wait outside bars and concert venues for late night meals, and can also be found during the day outside office buildings for lunch and dinner. SoCal is also home to the California burrito, which stuffs French fries inside the already overflowing tortilla. Which Cali hemisphere has the best burritos? That’s a fight I’m not willing to take on.

5. How the beach is used.

A wetsuit is a must for NorCal beaches. While the north has a large surfing community, other NorCal beach activities mostly include playing with Frisbees, running with dogs, sitting and looking at the water. Sometimes people even sit on the cold, cold sand and watch the sunset. In Southern California people ACTUALLY go swimming, SCUBA diving, and tan… without a wetsuit line.

6. Careers in Tech vs. Television.

People come to Southern California with dreams of making it famous in film. Locals run into movie stars at the supermarket. People come to Northern California with dreams of making it big in tech. You probably won’t recognize the people who created Google or Uber at the supermarket, but you might run into Mark Zuckerburg walking around Palo Alto. One-half of the state finds success on the big screen, the other half seeks success behind the computer screen.

7. The booze scene.

Northern California has always been known for Sonoma and Napa. And despite the up and coming wine scenes in Temecula and Santa Barbara, NorCal still reigns supreme. Not to be outdone in the booze world, Southern California’s San Diego has the stronghold on the beer scene. Yes, there are great breweries throughout the state, but do you really want to compete with a town that has Ballast Point, Stone, Pizza Port, Green Flash, Belching Beaver, and more than 100 others? Didn’t think so.

What Are The California Travel Restrictions?

As coronavirus hospitalizations rise across California, businesses and individuals are adapting to a new round of social distancing measures. There are new California travel restrictions to know about before traveling around the Golden State.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 07: In an aerial view from a drone, vehicles line up to enter a . [+] COVID-19 testing site at Dodger Stadium on the first day of new stay-at-home orders on December 7, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Under state order, 33 million residents of California have entered into regional shutdowns in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus as ICU capacity has dipped below 15 percent in most regions of the state. Barbershops, hair and nail salons, museums, zoos, movies theaters are closed while restaurants are open for takeout or delivery only. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

California Travel Advisory For Non-Essential Travel

Despite the stricter regional restrictions, California has a statewide travel advisory effective November 13, 2020. This order applies to visitors and returning California residents.

The order strongly recommends a 14-day self-quarantine after arriving in California for non-essential travel reasons, including tourism and recreation. People who self-quarantine can only interact with their immediate household.

Also, Californians are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. When travel is necessary, Californians should remain within their region to limit the potential spread.

In highly impacted regions, hotels will only offer stays for non-essential travel that exceed the 14-day quarantine period.

Those traveling for essential reasons, even across state lines, do not have to self-quarantine.

Whether traveling for essential or nonessential reasons, there is a statewide mask mandate. Any person above the age of 2 years must wear a mask in public settings.

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Regional Stay Home Order

The newest travel restriction is the Regional Stay Home Order that first went into effect on December 3, 2020. Instead of statewide restrictions like in the spring, the newest order applies to specific regions of California.

Regions with less than 15% ICU bed capacity have stricter restrictions under the new guidelines. Counties going below the 15% threshold must observe the Regional Stay Home Order guidelines for at least 3 weeks. After the initial 3 weeks, the region will assess the situation weekly. The restriction will lift when the capacity projects to meet or exceed the 15% threshold.

When the order is in effect, private gatherings of any size are prohibited, except for critical infrastructure and retail. Masking and physical distancing require 100% compliance at all times.

Non-essential travel is impermissible in regions with a regional stay home order. If exercising outside, one can only participate with those in the same household.

California's Governor Gavin Newsom describes that regional approach as "pulling the emergency brake" to halt coronavirus spread.

Stay Home Order Business Restrictions

Critical infrastructure including schools and non-urgent medical and dental care remain open. Remote contact is encouraged whenever possible. For businesses that cannot offer remote access, additional restrictions are in place besides the 100% masking and social distancing rules.

Below are some of the select sectors that can operate during a regional stay home order.

  • Retail: Operation at 20% indoor capability (35% for standalone grocery stores)
  • Shopping centers: Up to 20% capacity
  • Restaurants: Delivery and takeout only
  • Outdoor recreational facilities: Outdoor operation only and exclusively for personal health and wellness through exercise. Also, no sale of food, drink or alcohol.
  • Entertainment production: No live audiences

Hotels and lodging are open to out-of-state visitors. However, those traveling for non-essential reasons must have an itinerary for the entire 14-day self-quarantine period to book a stay. Once at the hotel, non-essential travelers must self-quarantine before going into public.

Non-Essential Business Closures

While restaurants, shops and outdoor recreational facilities can operate under a regional stay home order, select locations must close their doors until the regional shutdown ends.

  • Indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • Wineries, bars, breweries and distilleries
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums
  • Movie theaters (except drive-in)
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • Limited services
  • Live audience sports
  • Amusement parks

Certain operations within these business types may still be in operation if they provide a "critical infrastructure."

California Regions

Each California county falls into one of five regions. One can also browse restrictions by county to quickly see the current county risk level and business closures.

Each county has one of several risk levels: widespread, substantial, moderate and minimal. Regions that implement a Regional Stay Home Order have a "widespread" risk rating that closes most non-essential indoor business operations.

Northern California

  • Del Norte
  • Glenn
  • Humboldt
  • Lake
  • Lessen
  • Mendocino
  • Modoc
  • Shasta
  • Siskiyou
  • Tehama
  • Trinity

  • Alameda
  • Contra Costa
  • Marin
  • Monterey
  • Napa
  • San Francisco
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Solano
  • Sonoma

Greater Sacramento

  • Alpine
  • Amador
  • Butte
  • Colusa
  • El Dorado
  • Nevada
  • Placer
  • Plumas
  • Sacramento
  • Sierra
  • Sutter
  • Yolo
  • Yuba

San Joaquin Valley

  • Calaveras
  • Fresno
  • Kern
  • Kings
  • Madera
  • Mariposa
  • Merced
  • San Bonito
  • San Joaquin
  • Stanislaus
  • Tulare
  • Tuolumne

*The San Joaquin Valley is under a region stay home order (as of December 7, 2020)

Southern California

  • Imperial
  • Inyo
  • Los Angeles
  • Mono
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • San Bernadino
  • San Diego
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Ventura

As of December 7, 2020, two of the five regions have active regional stay at home orders. Those regions are San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Twenty-three counties are in these two regions with 27.9 million people.

The Bay Area, Greater Sacramento and Northern California regions only have the statewide non-essential travel advisory and county-specific restrictions.

Limited Stay Home Orders

Counties with a "widespread" risk rating also have an evening curfew from 10 pm to 5 am, where one can only be out for essential work and medical reasons. This policy went into effect on November 21, 2020 and applies to counties across any California region. Nearly every county has a "widespread" risk rating at the moment.

A county with a widespread risk rating has more than 7 new daily cases per 100,000 over a 7-day average. Or, the county can have a positivity rate greater than 8% over a 7-day average.

CA Notify App

Californians and out-of-state visitors may soon be using the CA Notify contact tracing app to receive exposure notifications. This app becomes available statewide on December 10, 2020, and works with Android and Apple devices.

No personal information is shared and this app is optional at this time. California is continuing to use its contact tracing program where healthcare workers check in with those who test positive or came into close contact with affected people.

While the California travel restrictions are not the strictest in the United States, they are some of the most extensive for the West Coast. It's best to only visit California for essential reasons due to the 14-day travel quarantine that went into effect on November 13, 2020. The regional stay home orders also limit activities for those not in self-quarantine.

Can Out-Of-State Visitors Come To California?

Out-of-state visitors can come to California by car, plane or train. However, nonessential travel is currently discouraged across the state. Upon arriving in California, a 14-day self-quarantine is highly recommended.

Hotels in counties under a regional stay home order may require non-essential travelers to book a stay of at least 14 days for the quarantine period or may only offer rooms to those traveling for essential reasons. These visitors will need to self-quarantine at the hotel for that entire period. Essential travelers can waive the quarantine period.

Counties under a regional stay home order have most non-essential businesses and outdoor locations closed. It's best to check the county travel restrictions before visiting to decide if it's worth traveling to California.

Does California Require Quarantine?

A quarantine isn't mandatory for incoming visitors or returning residents but is strongly recommended. Since November 21, 2020, the expanded California travel restrictions strongly encourage a 14-day self-quarantine for all out-of-state visitors and returning residents.

Those traveling for essential reasons don't need to quarantine but are expected to practice masking and social distancing at all times.

Californians traveling within the state are expected to remain within their region and avoid non-essential travel whenever possible. A quarantine isn't necessary when traveling between state regions.

Are California Hotels Open?

Most California hotels are open but have operating restrictions. The widest-reaching active restriction are the Regional Stay Home Orders.

According to the California State Government website, hotels and lodging in affected counties "cannot accept or honor out-of-state reservations for non-essential travel, unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required for quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired."

Hotels under a regional travel advisory may only offer lodging for essential workers, COVID-19 mitigation and providing housing solutions including to the homeless population.

Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip

Last updated on April 6, 2019 By Millennial Boss 6 Comments

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This section of the Northern California and Southern Oregon coast is so beautiful, it’s ridiculous.

If you’re thinking about doing a road trip soon – consider this one.


Despite popular impressions, this coast isn’t shuttered against dark, relentless rain all year. Without doubt it is one of the wettest places in the country, but mainly during winter, when the storm-factories of the Pacific Ocean regularly submit the coast to high winds and rain. But conditions are much drier during summer, though morning fog is almost a guarantee. Spring and fall can be unpredictable in the transition between wet and dry seasons, but often feature the best weather of the year: mild temperatures and blazing sunshine.

Ethan Shaw is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written extensively on outdoor recreation, ecology and earth science for outlets such as Backpacker Magazine, the Bureau of Land Management and Atlas Obscura. Shaw holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.

The Ultimate One Week Itinerary for Northern California

Good to know before

  • For a trip like this, a car is definitely needed to explore. I would opt to get the car after visiting San Francisco and continuing on the road trip from there.
  • Weather in Northern California can range from foggy to hot, so pack a variety of clothing.
  • The name of the game is beating traffic and it’s best done by planning around rush hour. Check ahead before hopping on the road.

Where to stay in Northern California

Depending on your itinerary, you could plan to stay in a variety of places. I would opt for two nights in each destination.

San Francisco Hotels: I love the new design at the Proper Hotel, the Fairmont is my favorite for old-world luxury, or you could stay at an Airbnb (here’s a list I love.)

Carmel / Big Sur Hotels: I think the bucket list hotel is always the Post Ranch Inn. I love the design at Ventana, and for in Carmel, the Hotel Carmel is a great choice.

Yosemite National Park Hotels: You have the option of staying in the park at the luxe hotel, or in these cheaper cabins. They reserve fast so if you can’t grab a spot, staying in Mariposa is a budget-friendly option.

One Week Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco

The first day is perfect to settle into your hotel in SF. Pending on where you’ve based yourself, it could be a good day to go for a walk on the Embarcadero and take in the view, or head to the Mission to dive straight into the food scene. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Check out this post on my favorite eats in San Francisco by neighborhood to help guide your foodie cravings.

Day 2: Explore San Francisco

Today you can pack a ton in. Some of my favorite places to explore are the Conservatory of Flowers, Alamo Square + Painted Ladies, Sutro Baths, the De Young Museum, walking in the Marina, and stopping by the Palace of Fine Arts, and exploring the hip neighborhood of Hayes Valley.

Day 3: Make the drive to Carmel

Jump in your car for an early start to beat rush hour, and make the three-hour drive down into Carmel. I’d recommend stopping in Monterey along the way. It’s quirky but fun to see the old town. Afterward, head into Carmel. The downtown is perfect for an afternoon stroll and you can grab dinner right in town.

Day 4: Explore Big Sur

The road down to Big Sur is certainly my favorite drive in California. I love to pack a lunch, stop along the way to look at the views, and soak in the sun. Highlights include Bixby Bridge, grabbing pastries at Big Sur Bakery, seeing McWay Falls, and a hike in the park. There are plenty of places to hike in Big Sur and recommend taking a look at this list.

Day 5: Make the drive to Yosemite

It’s a bit of a jaunt to Yosemite but well worth it. You can spend easily a half-day exploring if you get an early start. I’d recommend doing the valley floor and stopping off at the waterfalls today and save a big hike for a full day in the park. Here’s an ultimate weekend guide to Yosemite to help plan your adventures.

Day 6: Explore Yosemite

Take a full day to enjoy the park. There’s plenty to see and choose from one of the many hikes.

Day 7: Return to San Francisco

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