50 Interesting & Fun Facts About California State to Discover

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Waves crashing against the base of rocky cliffs with a clear sky in the background
Bixby Bridge is a famous landmark, on the coastline of Big Sur, California

California is a big, beautiful place, and it is unique in that it has everything from national parks to big cities. With so much to explore, there is a lot of history and fun facts you probably don't know about the state. So what is California known for?

California, also known as the Golden State, became the 31st US state after the United States acquired the land from Mexico. Most of California's population growth is attributed to the Gold Rush and the migration from the Dust Bowl.

California also produces a large number of raisins and avocados. But, it still has some massive cities where hundreds of thousands and even millions of people live. Today, you can visit the first Disney theme park, catch one of the 21 professional sports teams, or visit a ghost town.

Read on for even more interesting and fun facts about California state and the places and people who live here. These 50 facts cover the state's history and agriculture, and there are even some facts that are just weird!

  • 50 California facts

50 California State Facts

  1. Fun Facts for California
    1. The name California comes from a novel
    2. The state capital of Sacramento is only the sixth largest city
    3. When measuring land area, California is the third largest state
    4. California has the most major league sports team of any state
    5. California has more US National Parks than any other state
    6. San Bernardino County is the largest in the country
    7. California has hosted the winter and summer Olympics
    8. Disneyland was the first Disney Park to open in the world
    9. The largest tree by volume in the world is in California
    10. A 380-foot-tall Redwood tree in California is the tallest in the world
  2. Interesting Facts About California
    1. There are cable cars in San Francisco dating back to the 1870s
    2. The grizzly bear is the official animal of California
    3. Kings Canyon National Park has the largest grove of sequoia trees in the world
    4. The Mojave Desert in California is the smallest desert in North America
    5. California is over 170 years old
    6. California's State Water Project runs for more than 705 miles through the state
    7. Silicon Valley is the world's technology headquarters
    8. The population of California is over 39 million people
    9. California has a diverse population
    10. California has some of the highest costs of living
  3. Funny Facts About California
    1. The state slogan of California is "Eureka"
    2. California has "watermelon snow" in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
    3. Many inventions come from California
    4. Many famous foods were created in California
  4. Facts About California Agriculture
    1. Fresno is often called the "Raisin Capital of the World"
    2. California is called the avocado capital of the world
    3. California produces the most almonds in the United States
    4. The largest economy of any state in the US is California's
  5. Weird Facts About California
    1. For less than one month in 1846, California was the Independent California Republic
    2. The Golden Gate Bridge was not supposed to be red
    3. The highest point in the lower 48 states is in California at Mount Whitney
    4. Death Valley is the lowest point in the continental US
    5. The highest and lowest points are within 100 miles of each other
  6. History Facts About California
    1. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo went on the first European expedition to the west coast
    2. The Bear Flag Revolt is how California came under the control of American settlers
    3. More than 300,000 people came to the Sacramento area during the California Gold Rush
    4. California was divided during the Civil War
    5. The largest mass migration in the US brought 200,000 people to California
  7. Cool Facts About California
    1. California's nickname is the "Golden State"
    2. Redwood National Park has the tallest trees on Earth
    3. Sequoia National Park is the second oldest US national park
    4. Yosemite National Park has one of the tallest waterfalls in the world
  8. Scary Facts About California
    1. Bodie is the official ghost town of California
    2. Death Valley National Park is one of the hottest places on Earth
    3. California experiences over 175,000 earthquakes every year
    4. California's biggest earthquake had a magnitude of 7.2
  9. Random Facts About California
    1. There are animals that only live in California
    2. The largest natural outdoor amphitheater is The Hollywood Bowl
    3. Clear Lake is California's largest natural lake
    4. The California state flag has a grizzly bear on it that symbolizes strength

Show all

Fun Facts for California

Snow-covered mountain and trees at its foot reflected over a lake on a clear day
Lassen Peak reflected over Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

First up, some fun facts of California!

The name California comes from a novel

The 1510 book "Las Sergas de Esplandián" by Garci Rodriguez is about warriors living on the island of California. The book was popular among the Spanish explorers, so they named the land they explored after the one in the book.

City skyline with various buildings and trees on a clear day
Sacramento, the 6th biggest city in California, has a population of 525,000

The state capital of Sacramento is only the sixth largest city

Sacramento has a population of 525,000 people, which is much less than the biggest cities in the state. The five cities larger by population than the state capital, Sacramento, are Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno.

When measuring land area, California is the third largest state

California covers a total area of 163,695 square miles. It covers 155,779 square miles of land. It is significantly smaller than the largest state, which is Alaska, with 665,384 square miles. The second largest is the 268,596 square mile state of Texas.

California has the most major league sports team of any state

There are 21 professional sports teams in the state. There are five MLB teams, four NBA teams, three NFL teams, three NHL teams, three MLS teams, two NWSL teams, and one WNBA team.

California has more US National Parks than any other state

California is home to nine national parks, which is one more than Alaska, which has the second most parks.

The national parks in California are Channel Islands National Park, Death Valley National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Pinnacles National Park, Redwood National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Yosemite National Park.

The most famous park, Yosemite, is a globally recognized landmark. The park stands out for its lush valley surrounded by mountains and the well know Yosemite Falls that stand at over 2,425 feet.

San Bernardino County is the largest in the country

It is not the most populated, but it is the biggest, covering 20,160 square miles. The county is larger than Switzerland, and more than two million people live here.

California has hosted the winter and summer Olympics

It is the only US state to have held both games. The 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles. Then they hosted the games again in 1984. The 1960 Winter Olympics were also in California in Squaw Valley. Los Angeles is also set to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

Disneyland was the first Disney Park to open in the world

Disneyland in Anaheim opened on July 17, 1955, and Walt Disney supervised the design and construction of the park. The Anaheim park is the only Disneyland park Walt Disney helped create. Walt Disney was inspired to build it when Disney lovers wanted to visit the movie studios.

Looking up a massive tree among other trees in a forest
General Sherman Tree is a giant sequoia tree in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

The largest tree by volume in the world is in California

There is a giant sequoia tree in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. It's called the General Sherman Tree, and it is 274 feet tall and has a circumference of 102 feet. While this is not the tallest, it is the widest. And if you calculate the volume of the tree, it is the largest known tree in the world.

A 380-foot-tall Redwood tree in California is the tallest in the world

Even taller than General Sherman is the Hyperion which is a 380-foot-tall Redwood tree. The tree is in Redwood National Park, and it is the tallest in the world.

The Hyperion is a famous landmark in California. The national park that it resides within, Redwood National Park, is equally renowned for its hikes and trails through lush forest. Unfortunately, Hyperion's life is at risk due to all the tourism in the forest surrounding it.

Interesting Facts About California

Colorful buildings in front of skyscrapers and on a partly cloudy day
One of the interesting facts about California state is that it is 170 years old

Now it's time for interesting California facts.

raagoon@gmail.com/Depositphotos.com
Two cable cars in the middle of a street with trees and parked cars
Cable cars are famous and historic attractions in San Francisco, California

There are cable cars in San Francisco dating back to the 1870s

The cars were one of the biggest inventions in transportation history. The cars were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and they still run today as one of the most popular attractions in the hilly city of San Francisco.

The grizzly bear is the official animal of California

However, there are actually no wild grizzly bears living in California. They used to be a prominent part of the state's wildlife, with more bears than anywhere else in the US. But, they were all hunted down and killed off following the Gold Rush, and the last one was killed in 1922.

Kings Canyon National Park has the largest grove of sequoia trees in the world

The grove is in the Redwood Canyon section of the park. The other part of the park is Grant Grove which is where General Grant, the largest tree in the world, is.

A tumbleweed on a cracked dry lake bed and rocky mountains in the background
A dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert, North America's smallest desert

The Mojave Desert in California is the smallest desert in North America

The desert covers 25,000 square miles in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. It is the largest desert in California despite being the smallest on the continent.

California is over 170 years old

It became the 31st state in the United States in 1850. However, the United States acquired the land from Mexico in 1848, so it is sometimes considered to be two years older.

California's State Water Project runs for more than 705 miles through the state

It covers over two-thirds of the state, running from Oroville in the Central Valley south to Southern California near Los Angeles. It brings clean water to people, businesses, and farms in the state.

Silicon Valley is the world's technology headquarters

The area is in San Jose and the surrounding area south of San Francisco Bay. It is home to many of the biggest tech companies in the world, like Apple, Google, Netflix, Intel, Oracle, and Meta. The name, given to the area in the 1970s, comes from the silicon chips used in a lot of technology.

The population of California is over 39 million people

Two cities in the state have millions of people living in them. Los Angeles has 3.8 million people, and San Diego has 1.3 million people. Los Angeles county has 9.9 million people. San Diego county has 3.3 million people, making them the largest county. Orange County is the third largest, with 3.1 million people.

California has a diverse population

The state does not have a majority ethnic group. The most prominent group is Latinos, who make up 39% of the state's population. Whites are a close second at 35%, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the third largest ethnic group making up 15% of California's population.

California has some of the highest costs of living

It is one of the top three highest costs of living states after Hawaii and Washington, DC. The average cost of living in California is $46,636 per year. That number includes housing, health care, food, gas, energy, and other personal expenses.

Funny Facts About California

Clouds looming over snow-covered mountains and cows eating grass on the valley below
Cows grazing on Owens Valley at the foot of Sierra Nevada Mountains in California

California is big, so there are even some funny and amazing facts about California.

The state slogan of California is "Eureka"

The Greek word meaning "I found it" was used often during the Gold Rush by miners. The term was coined by Archimedes, who figured out how to determine the purity of gold, so it was fitting to use it during the Gold Rush. The word was added to the state seal in 1849. Then it became the official motto of the state in 1963.

California has "watermelon snow" in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

When the snow builds up on the mountains, usually in the summer, it looks pink and reddish. If you step in the snow or get it on your clothes, it might stain them. Some people even report smelling watermelon when they are in the snow.

Many inventions come from California

Some of the most popular items include Barbie, Nicotine Patches, and the Hula Hoop. Others include the Shirley Temple drink, the Orange Julius, and the WD-40 spray.

Many famous foods were created in California

Some of the delicious foods made in California include the Egg McMuffin, California Rolls, and Cobb Salad. The French Dip Sandwich was made in Los Angeles.

Facts About California Agriculture

Rows and rows of almond trees with white flowers in a plantation
An orchard of almonds, one of the state's crops, in Fresno California

Farming is a big part of the state, so here are some agriculture in California facts.

Fresno is often called the "Raisin Capital of the World"

All the raisins produced within the United States are within a 60-mile radius of Fresco. The value of the raisin industry here is valued at 232 million dollars. Fresno is perfect for producing raisins because the climate here grows good grapes for drying.

California is called the avocado capital of the world

California grows 90% of the avocados grown in the United States. The state produced 135,500 tons of avocados in 2021. The only other two states that grow avocados are Hawaii and Florida.

California produces the most almonds in the United States

California produces many types of nuts, including walnuts, pistachios, and pecans, but the most popular is the almond. Eight out of ten almonds eaten around the world are grown in California. A close second is walnuts, of which California produces 99% of the US's commercial walnuts and 75% of the world's.

The largest economy of any state in the US is California's

The high economic production comes from various industries and places, including technology, entertainment, and agriculture. In 2019, California had a gross domestic product of $3.137 billion, which made up 15% of the United States GDP.

Weird Facts About California

A red steel suspension bridge with one end connected to mountains
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in California

Ready for some weird California facts and history?

For less than one month in 1846, California was the Independent California Republic

After the Bear Flag Revolt, the American settlers in California created the Independent California Republic, which lasted for 25 days starting on June 14, 1846. The United States took over the territory and ended the republic.

The Golden Gate Bridge was not supposed to be red

It was supposed to be painted with bright blue and yellow stripes, so it was visible. But, the red primer caught the architect's eye, and he decided to keep it as the final color. The color is not called golden, as the name suggests, but International Orange. The Golden Gate bridge is also one of the most famous landmarks in North America.

View of pine trees at the foot of a rocky mountain against a clear blue sky
Mount Whitney, California's highest point, was named after Dwight Whitney

The highest point in the lower 48 states is in California at Mount Whitney

The peak of the mountain is 14,494 feet high. It was named after Josiah Dwight Whitney, who was a geologist. The first successful attempt to climb the mountain was in 1873 by three men who discovered the mountain's tablelike slope.

Death Valley is the lowest point in the continental US

The Badwater Basin, which is part of the valley, is the lowest point in the park at 282 feet below sea level. The ground at this point in the valley is covered in a layer of salt that looks like snow. The salt build-up comes from rainwater which leaves behind the salt when it evaporates.

The highest and lowest points are within 100 miles of each other

Mount Whitney and Death Valley are just 85 miles from each other in Inyo County, California. The 85 miles is the crows' distance, meaning straight between the two points. But, the actual distance to walk between them is 135 miles. Some of the world's best athletes and hikers race the route called the Badwater 135.

History Facts About California

A red wooden wagon and wooden houses surrounded by trees on a sunny day
An old Western Gold Rush Town in California Columbia at the Sierra Nevada foothills

With such a detailed past, there are a lot of historical facts about California listed below!

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo went on the first European expedition to the west coast

Cabrillo left Mexico and landed in what is now San Diego. He continued exploring up the coast to present-day Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and so on until he died along the expedition. His crew made it as far as Oregon. A National Monument, which is a famous landmark in San Diego, honors Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and his crew.

The Bear Flag Revolt is how California came under the control of American settlers

The revolt started when American settlers and the Mexican people who originally controlled the territory started fighting over the land. In June 1846, the American settlers made their own flag with a bear on it, and their side of the revolt became known as the Bears.

More than 300,000 people came to the Sacramento area during the California Gold Rush

Although digging for gold was difficult, the people here found more than two billion dollars worth of gold during the Rush. When the period ended, the territory's population had tripled, and settlers outnumbered the Native Americans by 2:1.

California was divided during the Civil War

It was divided similarly to how the US was divided, with the north and south on opposite sides. Northern California was pro-Union and wanted to abolish slavery. The south of the state was pro-secession and wanted to leave the US.

The largest mass migration in the US brought 200,000 people to California

The Dust Bowl in the 1930s caused millions of people to migrate out of the middle of the United States. Around 200,000 of these people moved to California by 1940. The native Californians were not welcoming of these people, and the migrants had difficulty settling in their new homes.

Cool Facts About California

Waterfall on a rocky cliff and the greenery below reflected over a river
Yosemite Falls reflected over Merced Lake in Yosemite National Park

There are also a lot of cool California facts that I have listed below.

California's nickname is the "Golden State"

It was designated the official nickname in 1968. Part of the name comes from the Gold Rush and the Golden Gate, which is the nickname for the Gold Gate Bridge, which marks the entrance of San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. It is also the nickname because of all the opportunities that California has to offer, which is why many people live and move here.

Redwood National Park has the tallest trees on Earth

The Redwood trees grow to be more than 350 feet tall and have lived in California for millions of years. They are as old as the dinosaurs, but humans are putting them at risk by developing the land they grow on.

A wooden sign for Sequoia National Park decorated with an Indian head
The entrance sign of Sequoia National Park, the second oldest national park in the US

Sequoia National Park is the second oldest US national park

The park opened on September 25, 1890. The state created the park to protect the area's trees, some of the biggest in the world. The park is home to the General Grant Tree, the Nation's official Christmas Tree, established in 1926.

Yosemite National Park has one of the tallest waterfalls in the world

Yosemite Falls is 2,425 feet tall, putting it in the top 20 tallest waterfalls in the world. Three smaller waterfalls make up the bigger falls. It is broken up into Upper Yosemite Fall, Lower Yosemite Fall, and the middle cascades.

Scary Facts About California

One of the scary facts about California state involves Bodie Ghost Town
Bodie Ghost Town has been abandoned since the end of the 19th century

Next up are some scary fun facts on California.

Bodie is the official ghost town of California

The town thrived during the Gold Rush, but it was abandoned once all the gold was gone at the end of the 19th century. It was named a National Historic Site in 1962. Then, in 2002 it was designated as the official state Gold Rush ghost town.

Ripples on the sand in a desert valley with mountains in the background
Flat Sand Dunes on one of the hottest places on Earth, Death Valley

Death Valley National Park is one of the hottest places on Earth

The hottest temperature recorded at the park was 134 degrees Fahrenheit in July 1913. There have been other hotter record temperatures since then, but Death Valley continues to have some of the hottest temperatures ever experienced on Earth.

California experiences over 175,000 earthquakes every year

There is an earthquake in California every three minutes. But nearly all of them are so weak that we do not even notice them. Only a few each year are big enough to be seen, and the rest are too small but still occurring.

California's biggest earthquake had a magnitude of 7.2

The earthquake happened on January 9, 1857, in Fort Tejon. It left two dead and left a 220-mile surface scar behind.

Random Facts About California

A white and red flag with a grizzly bear walking on the grass
California flag with a Grizzly bear, alongside the United States of America flag

Finally, let's end this with random but mind-blowing facts about California.

There are animals that only live in California

The animals include the tule elk, the California clapper rail bird, the San Francisco garter snake, the California newt, and the golden trout. These animals live in the state because they found a good environment to survive in and have not expanded elsewhere. We as humans have also not transported them elsewhere.

Aerial shot of an amphitheater surrounded by greenery, buildings and houses
The Hollywood Bowl has been hosting outdoor shows since 1922

The largest natural outdoor amphitheater is The Hollywood Bowl

The amphitheater holds 18,000 people, and it opened more than a century ago on July 11, 1922. It hosts many outdoor shows, including ballet, classical music, jazz, opera, fireworks, and salsa dancing. There is also a museum, kids' festivals, and many concessions. The amphitheater is one of the many famous landmarks in California.

Clear Lake is California's largest natural lake

It is a freshwater lake, and it covers 68 square miles. Native Americans settled in the lake area an estimated 12,000 years ago. Many animals live around the lake, with a vast population of bass, bluegill, carp, catfish, and crappie fish. Two-thirds of the fish caught in the lake are bass, and many fishing tournaments are held at Clear Lake.

The California state flag has a grizzly bear on it that symbolizes strength

It was first flown in 1846 when the state declared itself as the California Republic, which is also typed on the flag. It was flown for less than a month, and it wasn't until 1911 that it became the official state flag.

Conclusion

California has a lot of history, which lives on in its state flag and nickname. The land and the massive Redwood trees that live in the state date all the way back to the dinosaurs. And, you can't forget how cool it is that the highest and lowest points in the lower 48 states are just 85 miles away from each other.

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Sarah Hartness

Sarah_Hartness WRITER I am a Chicago-based travel writer who loves to explore the Midwest and beyond. I have traveled all over the US and Europe. I look forward to going to Latin America and Asia next!


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