For starters, the uniform. In California, people gravitate toward flowy, bohemian looks, as is often the local trend. The clothes show more skin. Personal style also seems to differ more substantially from person to person. In certain areas of New England, however - Hyannisport, Nantucket, not so much the larger cities but more the quiet beach towns - one look rules out the rest. The khakis; the Ralph Lauren polos; the unfathomably white, freshly-pressed dress shirts; the apparent lack of denim - all the stereotypes run true. In the land of high-profile politicians such as the Kennedy clan (whose famed compound is located in Hyannisport) and John Kerry (whom I sighted in Nantucket), everything is clean and crisp and, I have to say, pretty good-looking. It is strange, however, to see such a universal style of dress.*
*[As for Nantucket at least, the physical isolation of the island may contribute to its striking uniformity in style.]
The homes, too. Once again, way more uniformity than on the West. The houses are overwhelmingly Colonial: white with green doors and windows, white with navy doors and windows, and variations thereof. While homes in California, Arizona, and Nevada often seem predominantly mission-style, you also see more traditional models.
Lastly, the East Coast seemed to have a significantly less whiny attitude to the weather - at least compared to me and my clan. After arriving in Hingham, Massachusetts to around 99% humidity and 110-degree heat (yes, I'm from the Bay Area, this is a complete exaggeration), I was shocked at how curly my hair was, how slick my skin was, and how eager I was to locate water fountains and air-conditioning. In seasonless San Francisco, the weather - or lack thereof - is rarely a consideration. But in Hingham, there are about a million fans in each room, and plenty of snow shovels come winter. They're tougher there; they adapt better. I found myself full of admiration for their adept handling of the circumstances.
All this, I'm sure, sounds familiar. It's exactly what you've heard before: the East is the land of the prepsters, and the West is the land of the hipsters; when Californians are wakeboarding and stand-up paddling, New Englanders are sailing; etc., etc. But what are the more subtle differences you've noticed from coast to coast? I'd love to hear. In the meantime, keep reading.