15 Fun Facts About California

California is well known for its sunny beaches, sprawling suburbs, exciting cities and amazing mountains. Have you ever wondered where we got the nickname Golden State? Or what kind of incredible inventions were made here? Discover something you may not have known before about beautiful California! 

1. How California got its name

Spanish explorers named it California, specifically after it was discovered by Hernan Cortes. Some stories go that California got its name from the Catalan. Others say the name comes from the mythical land of Queen Califia. 

2. It has its own economy

California is the only state to have a trillion-dollar economy, making it the sixth largest economy in the world. 

3. Home of the world’s first McDonald’s

California is home to the world’s very first McDonald’s. The San Bernardino restaurant was opened in 1940 by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. It was a small, octagonal shaped building that some called “The Airdrome.” 

4. Land of inventions

Many inventions were first created in California include blue jeans, Barbie dolls, Frisbee, theme park (Disneyland), Apple computers and many others.

5. Home of the oldest non-clonal continuously standing tree in the world

Known as Methuselah, the tree is a white pine found in the White Mountains and thought to be 4,650 years-old.

6. Highest peak in the lower 48 states

Mount Whitney’s highest peak is accessed via the famous Mount Whitney Trail and the summit is at 14,495 feet.

7. Nicknamed the Golden State

This nickname derives from the discovery of gold in California in 1848, and because of the vast fields of yellow poppies that decorate the state in spring. 

8. Major fruit producer

California produces more grapes (and wine), as well as almonds, and dates than any other state in the union.

9. Hottest temperature on Earth

In Death Valley on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek, temperatures reached a record-breaking 134 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the hottest air temperature ever recorded on the planet. 

10. Only state to host both summer and winter Olympics

Los Angeles played host to the Summer Olympics in 1932 and 1984 and Squaw Valley, near Lake Tahoe, hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960.

11. Talks a lot of turkey

California raises more turkeys than other states. According to the numbers, over 15 million turkeys are grown each year in California, making nearly $200 million in total business. 

12. Highest and lowest points

California is home to the highest and lowest points in the continental United States, with the points being within 100 miles of each other. Mount Whitney measures 14,495 feet and Bad Water in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level.

13. The Grizzly Bear State

Before it was the Golden State, California was known as The Grizzly Bear State. A grizzly bear is still on the state flag, but unfortunately has been largely wiped out.

14. Official statehood

California became an official state in 1850, as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848.

15. Original flag

California’s original flag was designed by William Todd, a nephew of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Select a California town to find the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you
Best Things To Do Near You
Enter City / State or Zip code below
Best Places To Go Near You
Enter City / State or Zip code below
Select your town to find the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you:

Alameda County

Alpine County

Amador County

Butte County

Calaveras County

Colusa County

Contra Costa County

Del Norte County

El Dorado County

Fresno County

Glenn County

Humboldt County

Imperial County

Inyo County

Kern County

Kings County

Lake County

Lassen County

Los Angeles County

Madera County

Marin County

Mariposa County

Mendocino County

Merced County

Modoc County

Mono County

Monterey County

Napa County

Nevada County

Orange County

Placer County

Plumas County

Riverside County

Sacramento County

San Benito County

San Bernardino County

San Diego County

San Francisco County

San Joaquin County

San Luis Obispo County

San Mateo County

Santa Barbara County

Santa Clara County

Santa Cruz County

Shasta County

Sierra County

Siskiyou County

Solano County

Sonoma County

Stanislaus County

Sutter County

Tehama County

Trinity County

Tulare County

Tuolumne County

Ventura County

Yolo County

Yuba County