The rivalry between Northern and Southern California has been going for generations, and the differences between these two regions are vast. Although Californians truly love their entire state, Northerners can’t help but try to one-up the Southerners, and vice versa. Here are some of the reasons you should visit Northern California instead of Southern California.
It’s a Foodie’s Paradise
Wine country, home to four Michelin-star restaurants (there are only 12 in the United States), and the birthplace of the farm-to-table revolution, Northern California is a prime destination for foodies to get their fix. Northern Californians don’t mess around when it comes to their food. From the beginning, using impeccable ingredients, until the food is presented on its plate, foodies prefer Northern California.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Whoever or whatever is responsible for Northern California’s public transportation system deserves a hug. Unlike many other cities, public transportation in NorCal is typically smooth and easy to use. BART, Muni and the bus system are at your disposal, so you’ll always get where you need to go, when you need to get there.
Part of Star Wars was Filmed Here
The internationally acclaimed Star Wars franchise made a stop to film in Northern California. And not just in some movie studio—the crew took advantage of the magnificent redwoods. Star Wars: Episode IV-Return of the Jedi  filmed the scenes for the planet Endor in Muir Woods in the Redwood Forest. Northern Californians take immense pride in that.
Highways and backroads alike loop and trickle throughout the region. This makes for some of the most gorgeous drives in the entire state. Whether you’re driving, biking, or just walking these roads, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t bring a camera.
Not to say that Southern California is full of dull or unrefined culture (far from it). But, Northern California has a tremendous amount of history, libraries and museums, as well as strong Asian and Latin influences, and street art that highlights and showcases the culture. The large concentration of historical and prestigious colleges and universities, such as Stanford University, University of California San Francisco, and UC Berkeley, create major cultural influences in the region.
The San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics combined have many more championship titles than the SoCal baseball teams. There’s a lot more pride and history on display up north, creating an interesting sports culture you can’t find anywhere else.
The farther north you go, the vaster the California foliage becomes as you get closer the many beautiful National Parks. Make your way to the North coast, and you’ll be met with sweeping ocean views that seem almost unreal.
Home to Big Name Business
Netflix, Adobe, Facebook, Pixar, Intel, eBay, Apple Inc.—these are just a few of the huge names that call Northern California home. Many of these businesses offer amazing tours to the public, too. Silicon Valley alone has more than 20 Fortune 500 businesses.
Northern California is wine country, from Napa Valley to Sonoma and beyond. There’s countless famous and iconic wineries all over the region, and everyone from sommeliers to wine beginners make their way to the region to enjoy them.
Yes, Southern California has sun pretty much every day, but the weather up North is so much more balanced. The humidity is drastically lower, and the rainfall is higher. If you’re tired of the beating sun and miserable SoCal heat, head up north for a breath of misty air.
There’s no need to drive several hours for freshly fallen snow. In Northern California it’s virtually right around the corner from anywhere. In some areas, you can even head to the ski slopes in the morning and make it to the sunny beach by mid-afternoon.
Karl the Fog
Are there any lovingly named weather occurrences in SoCal? No? The infamous San Francisco fog was named Karl the Fog back in 2005. Northern Californians love Karl, even in the dead of winter when it’s coldest. Locals can’t help but give Karl some loving acknowledgment when they see him. Karl even has his own social media accounts for everyone to follow and love, no matter where you live.
Although traffic in the Bay Area is slowly getting worse, even the most miserable high-traffic times don’t come anything close to SoCal. Northern Californians don’t typically need to leave three hours before their dinner reservation to get there on time. That’s something everyone is grateful for up here.
Speaking of the better traffic conditions in Northern California … less traffic means less smog. Less smog means better, prettier air conditions. No, that’s not a layer of smog blanketing San Francisco, that’s just Karl! Even farther north, the smog is virtually undetectable.
Johnny Cash Sang about One of Our Prisons
Folsom State Prison, to be exact. Johnny Cash was one of the coolest, smoothest, and most iconic country singers of all time. The Man in Black’s song about one of Northern California’s most infamous prisons went down in history. How neat is that?
Awesome Town Names
It’s true, somehow Northern California acquired some pretty awesome names for its towns and counties. There’s Yolo County, Weed, Paradise, Happy Camp, Cool … and that’s just the beginning. They never stop being entertaining.
Last, but certainly not least, the most loved and hated slang term in California, possibly the United States, is “hella.” This slang term originated in Oakland, California, and spread like wildfire up and down the state. However, Northern Californians loves the term, and Southern Californians hate it. “Hella” was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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