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2012/366/15 It's Cool Here Ι © Alan Levine/Flickr
2012/366/15 It's Cool Here Ι © Alan Levine/Flickr
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17 Reasons to Visit Northern California Over Southern California

Picture of Deanna Morgado
Updated: 4 November 2017
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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Saul’s Jewish Restaurant & Delicatessen Berkeley, California, USA | © takasphoto.com/Flickr

Public Transportation

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 [1983] filmed the scenes for the planet Endor in Muir Woods in the Redwood Forest. Northern Californians take immense pride in that.

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Finding Endor | © jason jenkins/Flickr

Scenic Roads

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.

Refined Culture

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.

Baseball

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.

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San Francisco Giants | © HarmonyRae/Flickr

Nature

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.

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Mt. Shasta – Mt. Shastina, CA 8-28-13b Ι | © Don Graham/Flickr

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.

Wine

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.

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Wine with a friend | © Jason Dean/Flickr

Balanced Weather

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.

Snow

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.

Traffic

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.

Less Smog

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.

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Cool, California Ι | © Alan Levine/Flickr

“Hella”

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.