SF Bay Area and Northern California

Location/ Climate/ Population

The northern portion of the U.S. state of California is called Northern California. The area includes the rough borders of Monterey County on the south end, Mendocino County on the north end, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and rolling foothills in the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Northern California includes the San Francisco Bay area (including the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, and Oakland) and Sacramento (the state capital), as well as Yosemite Valley, Mount Shasta (the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range after Washington’s Mount Rainier), part of Lake Tahoe, and the northern half of the Great Central Valley, one of the most prolific agricultural regions in the world. This area contains the Coastal Ridge, which is home to most of California’s great redwood forests. It also includes what is known as Gold Country, a region famous for the gold mines and mineral deposits that attracted early immigrants.

Northern California is not a formal geographic designation; it is merely a term used to refer to the state’s northernmost 48 counties. One of the Unites States’ 11 mega regions lies within Northern California, spanning from Metropolitan Fresno to the San Francisco Bay Area, and Greater Sacramento to the Lake Tahoe-Reno area. Some consider Northern California to be defined as the area north of the Tehachapi Mountains. The area is so large, and so geographically diverse, that it is often subdivided into smaller sections, which include the Central Valley, the Sacramento Valley, and most of the San Joaquin Valley.

The climate in Northern California ranges from warm, Mediterranean temperatures and air conditions along the coast (with the exception of cool marine conditions and fog in the San Francisco Bay area) to Continental Mediterranean weather patterns in the inland valley. You’ll find alpine climate zones in Northern California’s high mountains.

Northern California is a region of relatively low population density, except for the metropolitan area of Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. Over the years, the population of Northern California has steadily increased, however, reporting 86,105 residents in the 1805 Census (which some consider to be substantially undercounted due to a lack of including the Native American population) and 14,573,946 in the 2010 Census. The largest percentage increase, outside of the Gold Rush era’s 51% increase, came in the 1940’s, when Northern California saw an influx of post-War veterans and their families who were drawn to the area’s industrial potential and military bases. The highest absolute increase in Northern California population occurred in the 1980’s, when more than 2.1 million people moved to the region (many seeking jobs in Silicon Valley and the defense industry).

Economy/ Business
Northern California is notable for being the outright leader of the world when it comes to the high technology (software and semiconductor) industry, and it is known as a large generator of clean power, biomedical, finance, and government jobs. Other industries of significance in Northern California include shipping, manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture. The economy in Northern California is diverse. Since the majority of business is in the high-tech sector, the economy is subject to the whims of venture capital, but it enjoys substantial strength in many areas. Many regions of Northern California are agricultural in nature and several others rely on government offices to provide jobs, such as in Sacramento and the city of San Francisco. These areas see a regional economy that often reflects the economy of the entire state, which includes many middle-class homes and families.

There are plenty of ways to get around Northern California, including driving on Interstate highways (including Interstates 80, 5, 280, and 205), U.S. Routes (including Routes 50 and 101), and Principle State Highways (including State Routes 1, 120, and 160). Several international airports service Northern California,including San Francisco International Airport (the largest and business in Northern California and second in the state), Oakland International Airport, San Jose International Airport, Sacramento International Airport, and Fresno Yosemite International Airport. You’ll also find an extensive network of ferry, railroad, subway, and bus services in Northern California.

Arts/ Entertainment/ Social
Northern California houses some of the state’s top museums, including San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, the De Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, the California Academy of Science in San Francisco the Oakland Museum of California, Monterey’s Historic State Park, and Sacramento’s Old Sacrament. Northern California is historically more liberal than Southern California, and its progressive values are seen in its art, culture, and social structures. San Francisco, in particular, has a thriving LGBT community, and the entire San Francisco Bay area is known for supporting theater, opera, sports, music, and ballet. Some of the major sports organizations in Northern California include the San Francisco Giants, The San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Athletics, the San Jose Sharks, the Oakland Raiders, the Golden State Warriors, and the Sacramento Kings. Major cultural venues and organizations include the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville, the Napa Valley Opera House in Napa, the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Symphony.

Northern California Counties