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Why is CA the ‘ultimate’ vacation destination? Visit California plays with new branding

From booze and burritos on the beach at Pacifica’s Taco Bell Cantina to foraging for fungi in the foothills during a guided walk, California is the “Ultimate Playground,” Visit California says.

The state tourism commission, whose mission it is to market California as a premier vacation destination to people around the world, has refreshed its branding for the first time in more than a decade to emphasize the Golden State as the perfect place to play.

“California’s playful lifestyle, paired with our abundance of experiences, create something no other destination can claim – California is the Ultimate Playground,” Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, said in a news release.

Visit California’s previous strategy, dubbed “Dream Big,” marketed California as a place full of possibilities, a place that inspires people to try new things and where abundance provides endless experiences.

While those ideals aren’t lost, the commission used health and wellness research to find additional ways to “inspire visitors to realize a fun and free-spirited vacation in California,” the agency said in the release.

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. Visit California also used research from the National Institute for Play to form their brand evolution.

The institute says play isn’t just for kids, but an “urgent public health necessity.”

“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,” Beteta said.

The global campaign launched Monday with a new commercial and a website update, where visitors can take a quiz to identify their “play style.” The quiz then connects visitors to regions of California and activities that align with each style.

The three-month, $32.8 million integrated campaign will air across the United States, Canada, Mexico, U.K., Australia and China.

What are ways to play in California?

Visit California gives 58 reasons why California is the “Ultimate Playground” in an opinionated guide that offers advice on how to have fun around the state.

The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz shows visitors that gravity is optional. Also in Santa Cruz — or Marin County, the Sonoma coast and the Sierra Nevada foothills — ForageSF gives classes on how to forage for mushrooms, wild plants and seaweed.

Food is a reason to party, according to Visit California, and the state has plenty of ways to celebrate the consumption of calories. “See the world’s largest vat of guacamole at Carpinteria’s California Avocado Festival, marvel at a 40-foot-long tamale at the Indio International Tamale Festival or swoon over garlic ice cream at Stockton’s California Garlic Festival,” the guide says.

California spearheaded the craft beer movement and has more craft breweries than any other state, according to Visit California. The state also has vineyards from the north to the south, where wine tasting options are abundant.

When playtime turns to nap time, you can sleep with the lions, tigers and bears during sleepover experiences at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Safari West in Sonoma County, Sacramento Zoo, Fresno Chaffee Zoo, Oakland Zoo and Santa Barbara Zoo.