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California Welcomes Travelers

to the Ultimate Playground


California is inviting visitors around the world to escape to the Ultimate Playground, where an abundance of adventures and experiences give travelers permission to play their own way. Grounded in research from the National Institute for Play that traveling is a proven benefit to one’s physical and mental well-being, the new brand asserts that California’s playful lifestyle, paired with its abundance of experiences, create the Ultimate Playground.

The Ultimate Playground represents the first new brand platform for the state in more than a decade to inspire domestic and international travelers to visit California. As people yearn to escape modern-day stressors more than ever, consumers naturally gravitate to California’s fun and free-spiritedness as a vacation destination.



Research from Visit California and decades of scholarly works provide a strong foundation for a playful brand identity. More than 85% of consumers across six global markets agree it is important to incorporate play into their lives, and 43% said that vacation “is the only time I have to really let go and play,” according to Visit California’s consumer research.

Wunderman Thompson Intelligence says consumers are creating a “joyconomy,” based on a recent study of consumers across the United States, United Kingdom and China, The Age of Re-enchantment: Emerging Trends and Opportunities. It found:

  • 89% see fun as a necessity that keeps them going in tough times.
  • 83% are seeking out experiences that bring them joy and happiness.
  • People want more joy (72%), hope (71%) and inspiration (62%) in their lives.

The National Institute for Play (NIFP), founded in 1989 to study the scientific knowledge on play behavior and its implications, has found that play is necessary for a healthy, happy life. Play is as vital to humans as sleep, and embracing play can have a tremendous positive impact on our physical, mental and social well-being.

A NIFP study released in March 2024 – The Power of Play: Losing and Finding Ourselves through Everyday Play – refreshes those findings from decades of research and provides a call to action that play is an urgent public health necessity.

The study, a comprehensive summary of more than 100 sources from scholars in a wide array of fields, describes eight distinct styles of play, the basis of people’s individual pursuits that bring them the most pleasure and fulfillment.


“California’s playful lifestyle, paired with our abundance of experiences, create something no other destination can claim – California is the Ultimate Playground. The power of play is scientifically proven, and majorities of every generation aren’t satisfied with the amount of time they spend playing. It’s time for that to change.”


A new section on VisitCalifornia.com features a quiz for travelers to identify their “play style” and connects visitors to regions of California and activities that align with each style. According to NIFP, the eight play styles – Collector, Competitor, Creator, Director, Comedian, Explorer, Mover and Storyteller – begin emerging at infancy. They are grounded in decades of research, as is the idea that play is an inherent human need within everyone.