For years now, California has been the nation’s most popular state, and there are many reasons for it. While the Golden State has its pros and cons like so many other states in the nation, it’s still the land of dreamers. It’s also very popular for people looking to raise a family or believe it or not, retire. Both San Jose and San Francisco rank among the top places to live in the U.S.
And yes, almost everyone wants to vacation in California during at least one time in their life. And true, California is also known as a stylish state. It’s no wonder that so many parents look to Cali for inspiration when it comes to picking out baby names. From Holly to Sonoma and even Laguna, there are just so many great names to choose from.
With that being said, here are 10 girl names and 10 boy names that every parent will want to steal. In all honesty, each name does make parents think about sunshine, great weather, the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, and so much more. Check out our list, and let us know your thoughts in our comments section below. Trust us, you’ll love the ones you see.
Holly is a classic name that can easily be a nod to California’s most famous neighborhood: Hollywood. If you are someone who admires all of the glitz, the glamour, and the lights, then Holly is a cute (but subtle) name that you can give to your baby girl. The origin of the name is from Old English. It means “cleaning by the hollow” or “hollow-eyed.” But in our opinion, Holly can also have stars in her eyes, because she’s destined for big things in the future. Now, whether she becomes a small screen star of a big screen star remains to be seen!
Cali is a cute, short name that can double up as a perfect nickname for your bundle of joy. The baby name Cali is actually a Greek name, even though it sounds like it’s from the West Coast. It means “most beautiful,” which makes sense since every Cali we’ve seen is stunningly gorgeous. If you want to make things a little different, you can go with the spelling Kali. Or if you truly want to show how unique you are, there’s always Kalifornia. Either way, no one will ever doubt your love for the state with the name. Plus, Baby Cali has a cute ring to it, right?
Sonoma is one of the Golden State’s best-kept secrets. Situated next door to Napa Valley, Sonoma County is one of California’s best-kept secrets. Sonoma Valley is one place that parents love to watch the sunset go down while enjoying a glass of California Wines. It’s normally used as a girl’s name and loosely translates to "valley of the moon" or "many moons." It’s also a name that has risen in popularity over the years. And yes, it’s a name that many Kindergarten teachers have been hearing on both coasts, too. Sonoma is whimsically beautiful and a perfect name for your new bundle of joy.
Alameda is a Spanish baby name for boys that is also growing in popularity in the United States. The true meaning of Alameda is actually ‘Promenade’ but it also has origins that loosely translate it to Poplar Tree. And while the name is popular among boys in Spanish-speaking countries (mostly in Spain, Argentina, and Chile), many other places in the Western world have also chosen the name for their baby girls. As many moms and dads can imagine, it’s a name that has become prevalent in the state of California, too. A cute nickname for Alameda would be Ali or Ala.
If you have a daughter named Holly, you might as well give your son a name like Oscar to show just how much you really do love the movie industry to everyone. Even though a lot of people associate Oscar with the Academy Awards (especially if you live in Los Angeles), it’s an Old Norse name that means gentle friend. It’s also hugely popular in places like England and Ireland. Some nicknames and variations of Oscar include Ossie, Ossy, Ozzie, and Ozzy. It can also be spelled as Oskar. The name is both strong and masculine, but also cute and charming.
Historically speaking, Pomona is the name of a Roman goddess that symbolizes the beginning of the autumn season. During mythical times, Pomona was known for locking herself in a closet to ward off potential lovers. Hopefully, your child doesn’t get the same idea! But with that said, we have a feeling that Pomona can be a handful (but a charming handful, that is!). Pomona is also a name that is as unique as it sounds. We can almost guarantee you that every person that hears your child’s name will comment on how beautiful and special the name sounds. Because, quite frankly, it is.
Don’t worry if people look at your child’s name and can’t figure how to pronounce it at first. Orinda is a beautiful name with a beautiful history that everyone will learn to love almost instantly. Orinda translates as “Pine Trees” but it’s a name that parents have picked up in recent years. Plus, there are several cute nicknames and variations to Orinda, including Ori. When someone named Orinda walks into a room, you can almost bet that everyone will turn their heads to pay attention to who it is. Plus, you never forget a person with a name like this.
When you hear a name like Laguna, it’s without a doubt that your first thought is Laguna Beach. While a lot of people distinguish Laguna with California, it’s actually a name of Italian origin and means either pond or lake. It can also loosely translate to water. So yes, if you do end up using Laguna as a name (for either your baby boy or your baby girl) we have a feeling that the little tot is going to love being close to the ocean one day. As a matter of fact, you might even have a competitive swimmer in the making!
When you think of the name Mojave, we are certain that the next word that pops in your mind is desert. Right? Well, even though the Mojave Desert can sometimes be associated with a ghost town (or a mining town in China), it’s a name that has become very trendy in recent years. It’s also a popular native name for young boys. If you choose a name like Mojave for your child, we can almost guarantee you that he is going to grow up to be an adventurer, a free spirit, and a person who loves to travel and explore new cultures.
Diego is a name that has been around for a very long time. And yes, Diego is considered a great California-inspired name, considering that one of the state’s best places to live is San Diego. After all, who wouldn’t want to live in a place where the weather is great all year round, right? Diego is the Spanish form of James and can also possibly be a short form of Santiago (which can also be a nickname for the English Jaime). It translates from Spanish as “supplanter” and has been in the top 100 baby boy names for the last decade.
Francisco. As in, San Francisco. It’s got a nice James Bond ring to it, doesn’t it? Okay, while naming your child San Francisco might be a bit too extreme (unless you really are that much in love with the city), Francisco is a completely legitimate name for a boy. As a matter of fact, it’s even a very popular name among many parents, both in the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking worlds. Francisco is a Spanish name. In means Frenchman or “free one.” A lot of people like to use Fran, Frank, or even Cisco as pet or nicknames. Francisco also sounds like he’s going to be a very romantic boyfriend by the time he hits preschool, too.
It doesn’t matter what your child’s first name is, everyone believes their child is an Angel, right? Actually, everyone wants to believe that their child is an angel until they whip out a can of spaghetti sauce and create their own art piece installation in the middle of the kitchen. When that happens, there’s a good chance that you will be thinking of a name that is the exact opposite of Angel. All jokes aside, Angel is a great name, especially if you happen to live in the Greater Los Angeles area. If you are looking to mix things up, Angelo is a great option, too.
Angela is a classic name that has managed to carry over from generation to generation. It doesn’t matter if she’s your grandmother, mother, aunt, cousin, or baby sister, everyone knows an Angela. And better yet, everyone loves an Angela, too. Angela means “a divine messenger” or a “messenger from God,” which makes sense. Because every Angel (or Angela) out there has an important task to carry out, right? A cute pet name for your Angela would be Angie. You can also go with Angelina, which has a good Hollywood vibe to it, too (as in Angelina Jolie, which we are sure that you were thinking of, too).
Avalon is a name that is actually making a comeback. There were quite a few kids named Avalon back in the 1980s, and it looks like the name is enjoying a rebirth of sorts. Avalon is a cute, whimsical and feminine name that pre-school teachers are seeing more and more. And yes, it’s a perfect name for anyone looking to add a California vibe-moniker for their new baby girl. Avalon translates as “island of apples” or “afal” which is Welsh for Apple. And if you are thinking what we are thinking, the answer is yes: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin should have gone with Avalon rather than Apple for their first born child.
If you like Brandon but think it’s a little too common, you can try Brannon. It’s a name that also has a great California vibe. As a matter of fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if there were plenty of Brannon's hitting the surf and sand in Malibu as we speak. Brannon is also a historic name. It dates back to the 8th century from an Irish legend called The Voyage of Bran. The name means “son of Bran” and “raven” and possibly has Gaelic or Celtic roots. You could also give your little Brannon ‘Bran’ as a cute nickname. Either way, we have a feeling that this kid is going to have the cutest dimples ever seen on both coasts.
Doran is a name that has Irish roots, but one that belongs under the California sun. Yes, Doran translates as “stranger” or someone who is in exile, but don’t think of it as that way (unless, of course, you will be grounding your child for bad behavior in the future). Doran is a name of a kid who loves to hang out with his buddies at the hippest shake shacks (actually, make that an In-N-Out) in Orange County. He’s stylish, he’s fun, and he also always has a skateboard in one of his hands. If that weren’t enough, Doran also has endless love for his mother.
There’s no way that we can make a list of the trendiest names to come out of the Golden State without adding Topanga, right? We are pretty sure that every girl you’ve ever met named Topanga (which is probably one or fewer) was born or hails from California. Historically speaking, Topanga is a name that comes from the Tongva tribe and it means “a place above.” It can also translate as “where the mountain meets the sea.” But when we think of Topanga, we can’t help but think of a beautiful toddler girl with perfect ringlets in her hair and the cutest freckles we will ever see.
When a lot of people think of the name Zuma, yes, they think of chart-topper Gwen Stefani. That’s because the singer’s second son with her ex Gavin Rossdale is named Zuma. The name means “peace.” And because of Gwen, the name has spiked in popularity in recent years. Not only does the name carry a great California vibe, but it’s also a name that sounds like it’s perfect for a future jazz musician. And by the way, there’s also Zuma Beach near Malibu, California, which would be a perfect place for future play dates with friends. You heard it here first.
Before you say “Casa what?!” hear us out. Casmalia is a name that many people will remember, mostly because it’s such a mystery. Apparently, the name is said to be derived from a Chumash word that means “flower field.” One of the best things about this name is that it’s so unique and unheard of that there’s a good chance you’ll never meet another Casmalia out there. That makes your child and her name even more special, in our opinion. As far as nicknames, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. Everything from Casi to Mali and even Malia sticks and fits.
Florence is a classic name that will always be at the top of the baby name charts. If you don’t believe us, just look back at the last several decades. In Latin, Florence means “blossoming” or “to flower,” and yes, we can’t help but think of the beautiful flower fields all across California when we hear the name Florence. And yes, we know that when you hear ‘Florence’ you think of ‘Florence and the Machine’ because you are a parent with exceptional taste in music. That’s something that you can certainly pass down to your little Flo, right? To be frank, Little Flo sounds like a great California garage band name, too!