What should I absolutely not do when visiting your state?
- Not everyone is a surfer or actor or lives in LA or San Francisco. Don't assume just because people are from California, they know famous people, or live on the beach 24 hours a day.
- Also LA does not equal Southern California and San Francisco does not equal Northern California. Don't make this assumption with people. e.g. "Oh, you are from Northern California, you must live in San Francisco. In fact, only 750,000 people live in San Francisco proper. 8 million people in Northern California don't live in San Francisco. The same goes for LA. Of the 28 Million people that live in Southern California, 4 M live in Los Angeles. The rest live in different area that are not considered Los Angeles. Many people will just say I am from LA if they perceive that you wouldn't understand where they live, but you will impress them and delight them if you say, "Which specific city do you live in in the Southern California Area." Many times, they will say, "Oh, I live in Culver City, or Venice, or Riverside, or Moreno Valley, or Santa Clarita, or Thousand Oaks, etc.."
- Keep in mind that there are nearly 40 million people in the State of California. It is the 3rd largest State in the Union by Size, and probably the most diverse in terms of geography and geology. It has five major cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento. Each city has it's own special culture and uniqueness about them.
- #2 #3 and #4 are related - California has one of the largest economies in the World and a global workforce. People from literally every country in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa are likely represented in this state. Jokes or comments about people and their culture in the general public are considered in poor taste.
- No jokes about Asians, Mexicans, immigrants in general, or LGBT communities: Such jokes or comments aren't taken as funny with the majority of Californians. It is a very diverse and tolerant state.
- Asians not Orientals: People from Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc.) are Asians. They are not orientals. I hear this all the time in SF and LA with tourists from other parts of the US and the world, referring to Asians as Orientals.. This is incorrect and can be construed as offensive.
- Don't complain about the food: If you are eating food outside of the major cities, then you are likely eating a lot of sugar, fast food, etc. There aren't a lot of choices. If you are in LA on the West Side or in downtown San Francisco, there are much more choices for healthy, quality foods. Much of the food in the US contains corn syrup, or high fructose syrup. Try not to complain about it. There are places where you can find decent food. It is not like Europe where you can get an amazing Espresso, and baguette with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. We just don't have that across the country. So try not to complain about it. We are learning that quality is better than quantity but it will take a while. If you want to eat healthy on the road, you can go to the grocery stores and purchase fresh produce, bread and meats.
- Respect the community, park or site you are visiting: This goes for any highly visited site. I live in a community that gets nearly 50M visitors a year. That means that at any given time, there are 4–5M per month visiting the Bay and our city. We see a lot of rude people, doing things they would never do in their city or home town.
- Don't talk about Politics. It is easy to get too comfortable. Most of the cities are are blue (liberal) and most of the rest of the state is red (conservative). You can be in a liberal area one minute, and drive 10 miles and be in a conservative area. It's best to just not discuss political ideology, or make fun of politicians.
- Don't make fun of or imitate the stereotypical Minnesota accent. Let us do it first.
- Minnesotans are typically self-deprecating, but questions like "How can you live in such a cold place?" or "How do you deal with so much snow?" probably won't win you many fast friends. We just do, and some of us even like it. Questions like "Do you like the winter?" are fine, and you'll likely get a predictable "Not really."
- "Fargo" is a movie, and a 20-year-old one at that. Most Minnesotans are tired of hearing about it, even those who secretly like it. It's not so much that it's offensive to assume people are fictional hicks circa 1996, it's more that the depiction has so little bearing on anything, esp. in the Twin Cities.
- No, almost none of us knew Prince personally.
- Asking how much money someone makes and (usually) how much someone's house cost are verboten topics in the US overall, but they are extra-big no-nos in modest Minnesota. Asking someone you're not about to hire for their salary is about the least appropriate question you could ever ask. Spouses don't usually even share this info until the third year of marriage (joking, maybe).
- Don't make us brag. It's not in our nature.
Here are some things not to do when visiting (Eastern) Massachusetts:
Call Boston "beantown"
Pronounce Worcester, Gloucester, Quincy, or Leominster like they're spelled. Probably better to hear most places a few times before saying them.
The accent. Don't "pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd".
Take upskirt pictures. Sadly this wasn't true a few years back and some creep avoided punishment because the law wasn't specific enough. That loophole has been fixed.
Go straight quickly on a red light going green. People like to "bang" a left immediately as the light changes so watch out for them.
Try to meet someone at the Dunkin' Donuts. There will be more than one. Often across the street from each other.
Move any furniture so you can park. Saving spaces is officially discouraged but no need to risk it.
I would have added "talk to strangers", but my aunt and uncle visited from Texas and managed to spark conversations with lots of people. Mostly people keep to themselves though.
Run out of alcohol on a Sunday morning.
Some rules from my childhood in Ohio, maybe the same goes in other states:
- Don't bogart the bowl. Puff and pass.
- Don't hoard all your weed to yourself. If you would like someone to share with you it's only fair you share yourself.
- Don't run from the cops.
- DO. NOT. RUN. FROM. THE. COPS. Melt quietly into the shadows but never ever run.
- Don't ask Snuffy to buy you beer. He'll get caught 'cause he's dumb as hell, the beer joint will get closed down and then no one has beer.
- Don't call anyone the "N" word unless you intend to get into a fight.
- Don't ride mopeds at night. :(
for South Florida (Northern Florida is a bit different..)
Don't assume everywhere is like South Beach(Miami). Only South Beach is like South Beach. Everywhere else is different. We don't all look like Miami Vice cast members.
Don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen. Seriously. The sun is amazingly intense and you will burn very quickly. Don't be afraid to go for the SPF50. It will barely be enough I promise. And you will be miserable without sunglasses.
Don't plan outdoor activities for the afternoon. It rains in the afternoon during rainy season (May-Sept). Having said that, don't let the rain put a damper on everything you do- it's often raining on one side of the street and not the other, and usually the thunderstorms and intense rain pass very quickly.
Don't visit during the summer unless you like it hot. Good news: Air conditioning is everywhere.
Don't bother packing a coat. A light jacket or sweater at most will do just fine.
Don't forget to learn a little Spanish, especially if you are going to Miami. Don't worry, everyone speaks English but in some places Spanish will be first. Donde esta el bano?
Don't get involved in road rage situations, a live and let live attitude is best. We have legal concealed carry (firearms) here and Stand Your Ground laws. Don't assume you can tell off a bad driver and get away with it.
Don't miss a chance to get on the water in some way. This is the boating capital of the world and water is everywhere.
Don't miss a trip to the Everglades. Someday you won't be able to see it anymore. Take an airboat ride, it's well worth it.
Don't try to do everything in a few days. Orlando - Miami is over 3 hours drive. Miami - Fort Lauderdale is 30–45 minutes. Fort Lauderdale - West Palm Beach is 40 minutes. Things are spread out.
Don't depend on Taxi's, Uber, or public transportation. You really need a car to get around here.
Don't miss a trip to the Keys. You need to plan a couple days if you're going all the way to Key West. Traffic is worst going south Friday evening and north Sunday evening. During the week it's no problem. It's amazing people even live here.
Don't sweat the local fauna, the only things that will bother you are fire ants and mosquitoes. Windy areas will have less mosquitoes (it's windier closer to the beach). Fire ants build nests in sandy spots, usually next to the sidewalk or driveway. Keep an eye out for ‘em. Alligators will not bother you unless you bother them. I've never seen a python. There are lizards of all sizes here from tiny skinks to huge iguanas, but they will not bother you. Supposedly we have rattlesnakes here but i've never seen one.
If you come to Idaho don't ask me or nearly anyone else about potatoes. I only vaguely know how they're grown & harvested. I've driven past a potato shed, but I honestly don't care about the tuber & asking me about them isn't cute.
Just come & enjoy the rugged beauty & meet some nice people.
Edit: I forgot one huge piece of advice: if someone offers you an Idaho Spud, just say no. They're some sort of nasty confection that someone thought would be a kitschy tourist candy. It's chocolate marshmallow, dipped in chocolate, & rolled in coconut. And they're shaped like a potato. The texture is like chewing on styrofoam. I'm fairly certain no new Idaho Spuds have been produced, it's just the same batch from 1985 getting passed around to kids and unsuspecting tourists. Just don't it's not worth the calories, go eat a real candybar or buy some huckleberry pie.