9 Ways for East Coasters to Sound Legit Talking About California

First, I’m from the west coast. Born and raised. SoCal, even. But now that I live on the east coast, it drives me up the wall to hear everyday people talk about places and things on the west coast that we just don’t do or say.

Let us begin.

It’s not Cali, it’s California.

Callie is a name. California is a place. The two shall not be confused. We don’t call it Cali any more than anyone else calls New York…”New” or Florida “Flor.”

I know we live in an age where everyone wants to either abbreviate everything or make it an acronym, but let’s just go ahead and skip that part.

It’s not Frisco. It’s not San Fran. It’s San Francisco or it’s The City.

SF

I’ve never lived in San Francisco, and don’t plan on it any time soon (NorCal vs. SoCal is actually a thing) – but I’ve spent far too many weeks there for work trips to know what people call it. Just avoid the temptation to call it anything less than its full name.

‘San Fran’ rhymes – and that’s cute – but you’ll instantly be labeled as out of touch or from out of town. You pick which.

Journalists, I’m looking at you:

Also, locals will often call it The City (I know New Yorkers think of NYC as “the city”, but that’s another story).

SoCal in June is not always the paradise you think.

This is often San Diego in June. Not the paradise you were looking for.

This is often San Diego in June. Not the paradise you were looking for. Flickr / susan_w

There, I said it again: SoCal. It’s appropriate.

Southern California during the summer can be awesome, but when you step off the airplane expecting sunny at 75°, you might be surprised to find out it’s overcast and 62° until the late afternoon. LA can sometimes escape this, but the marine layer rules everything from May Gray through June Gloom, and even beyond. If you were to watch the local weather, they could usually record it once in May and hit repeat until June or July:

“Early night and morning low clouds and fog, followed by sunny and 75 along the coast and in the 80s inland. Back to you!” (“early” can mean a lot of different things).

LA is huge. And requires a car.

This is helLA traffic

This is helLA traffic / google

I hear a lot of people ask if you need a car in LA, and if public transportation exists. Well, technically, you can. It’s possible. It’s even better than it used to be, especially with things like Uber which makes getting from those places to other places suck less. But it’s still not ideal, and it’s still full of traffic – making your 10-mile drive last three hours.

You can’t take the train to LAX without a bus and a trip and another cost, and you can’t really effectively take local transit anywhere from the airport. Seriously, you’re better off with a car.

Which brings us to the next point.

San Diego and LA aren’t far away from each other, except they’re worlds apart.

Driving from SD to LA is about an hour and a half minimum – roughly 100 miles – but can also take hours (plural) longer. Even though it’s not really that far away (and you can take the beautiful scenic train from San Diego to LA’s scary-at-night Union Station), the two are completely different worlds. And San Diegans and Los Angelenos don’t always see eye-to-eye about whose city is better.

San Diego and San Francisco aren’t nearby, for that matter either. It’s an 7-hour drive or an hour in the air.

Mexican food is our pizza

Carne Asada burritos are a gift to humankind. Flickr / dongkwan

Carne Asada burritos are a gift to humankind. Flickr / dongkwan

The best Mexican food comes from a hole-in-the-wall at 2:15am, not from an overpriced upscale restaurant at dinner. The best time, of course is right around the same time post-bar that you would be ordering a big slice of pizza.

And as much as pizza is delicious, nothing quite hits the spot like Mexican food.

You say two slices of pepperoni pizza and a coke? I say a carne asada burrito with a large horchata! Or carne asada nachos. Or…or…I’m hungry.

Not everyone surfs. But some of us do.

Surfers in San Diego / Flickr

Surfers in San Diego / Flickr

I took my first surfing lessons when I was a kid. Never really got into it at the time, but I started again a few years back thanks to someone who reminded me how awesome it was. The next year, I tore my shoulder on the first day out, so that put a damper on that summer.

But contrary to what everyone believes, not all us Californians surf. Sure, you’ll see plenty of surfers out on the water when the waves are good, but when the waves are good, it’s not like D.C. over Memorial Day where suddenly the city is empty.

That said, everyone loves the beach.

Just because we say “dude” doesn’t mean we’re surfers, either.

It’s just a word. “Brah” on the other hand…

Most importantly: there is no comparison of California to the east coast.

(In the event you want out of the city for a while, our snowboarding is top-notch) | Mammoth Lakes, CA / Flickr / dualdflipflop

There just isn’t.

Our beaches are pretty awesome, our coastline is way different, we actually have waves, and we can wear shorts and flip-flops in July as much as we sometimes can in December.

Humidity isn’t really a thing, and winter isn’t awful. Come to think about it, neither are the summers.

Our public transportation in southern California is practically nonexistent (but is pretty good in San Francisco), and that’s not weird to us. Not driving for months at a time might seem normal on the east coast, but just plain weird on this coast.

But at the end of the day, SoCal winters and summers (in SoCal) aren’t much different, and it doesn’t snow in San Francisco. And if you want to see some snow, you’re never more than a couple hours away from shredding some awesome pow.