These days, we all have a touch of wanderlust. And while travel is postponed for the time being, with some sleight of hand you can transport yourself to a favorite California destination—or at least swap out your Zoom background to make it look like you’re there.

Zoom, the video conference service, has become the de facto medium for connecting coworkers, friends, and family during this stay-at-home period. If you’d like to attend your next virtual happy hour or work check-in from someplace other than your living room, use the Zoom virtual background feature to replace your actual surroundings with the best of California.

Golden State options abound, such as picturesque Sonoma in springtime, hot-air balloons over Napa, the mountains viewed from Palm Springs, the quiet calm of Muir Woods, sunset over the vineyards in Temecula Valley, a colorful roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm near Anaheim, and Yosemite’s grandeur. Be sure to check out Visit Oceanside's stunning collection of backgrounds, which include multiple shots of the pier and even three videos. 

Visit California has created dozens of backgrounds featuring stunning landscapes from every region of the state, from the towering trees of Redwood National Park to the vibrant Los Angeles skyline.

For animal lovers, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s collection of digital wallpaper offers everything from penguins to octopuses; or, make them laugh with a background video of San Francisco’s famous Pier 39 sea lions.

Sports fans can take themselves out to the ballgame at Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres play, cheer for the San Francisco 49ers from Levi’s Stadium, or hit the links at Pebble Beach.

For classic California vistas, visit the Santa Monica Pier or ride the trolley through the City by the Bay. Art lovers can visit LACMA in Los Angeles (or any of Alaska Airlines’ other favorite California destinations) or take advantage of the more than 100,000 free images that are available from the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In all cases—don’t be a copyright bandit. Generally, using a photo for a personal Zoom call is OK; using one during a work presentation or making money from it certainly isn’t.

How to change your Zoom background

After selecting your image, save it as a .jpg file on your computer. In Zoom, choose “virtual background” from the Preferences menu. Then click the + icon under Choose Virtual Image to upload your image selection. You’ll need either a computer with a speedy processor and the most up-to-date operating system in order to use this feature—see the details at Zoom’s help center—or a green screen or solid color background.

As a bonus, your California-themed background also helpfully masks whatever is actually behind you, so you can reveal a little less to your coworkers about your decorating strategy and/or tidiness levels.