The effects of social distancing have left many feeling, well, a little stir-crazy. Though we all try to stay busy by keeping active and working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s easy to fall into a rut. Luckily, there’s more than one way to stave off boredom while staying indoors. Instead of binging the best of what Netflix has to offer for the second time, it’s time to broaden your horizons with some virtual tours.
“Walk” through some of the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions, like The Met and The American Museum of Natural History, then go for a “ride” on Disney’s new Frozen rollercoaster with the kids. And regardless of your age, we think everyone will enjoy some live footage of pandas playing at the zoo!
- The Louvre: You don’t have to book a ticket to Paris to check out some of the famous pieces in the world’s largest art museum. The Louvre has free online tours of three famous exhibits, including Egyptian Antiquities.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: The works of Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Jeff Koons, and Franz Marc are just some of the 625 artists whose work are a part of the Guggenheim’s Collection Online.
- The National Gallery of Art: Founded in 1937, the National Gallery of Art is free and open to the general public. You can view its current exhibitions and listen to audio and video recordings of past lectures online.
- The Met: Features an online collection and virtual tours of some of its most impressive pieces, including works from Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Giotto di Bondone.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Move at your own pace through the 360-degree room-by-room tour of every exhibit in the museum.
- Van Gogh Museum: You can get up close and personal with the impressionist painter’s most famous work thanks to Google Arts & Culture.
- Dalí Theatre-Museum: Completely dedicated to the artwork of Salvador Dalí, virtual tours.
- Getty Museum: Los Angeles’s premiere gallery has two virtual tours, including “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry,” which is a closer look at food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
- The Vatican Museum: The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Raphael’s Room, are just some of the sites you can see on the Vatican’s virtual tour.
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: Madrid’s must-see art museum has the works of some of the continent’s most celebrated artists like Rembrandt and Dali available online.
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: Six virtual exhibits are available online from this museum named for the “Mother of American modernism.”
- National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City: Dive into the pre-Hispanic history of Mexico with 23 exhibit rooms full of Mayan artifacts.
- British Museum, London: The Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies are just a couple of things that you’re able to see on a virtual tour of the museum.
- NASA: Both Virginia’s Langley Research Center and Ohio’s Glenn Research Center offer online tours for free. Also, you can try some “augmented reality experiences” via The Space Center Houston’s app.
- National Women’s History Museum: Have a late International Women’s Day celebration with online exhibits and oral histories from the Virginia museum.
- National Museum of the United States Air Force: The official museum of the United States Air Force. Centered on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: Though the Met Gala was cancelled this year, you can still have a peak at the The Costume Institute Conversation Lab, which is one of the institution’s 26 online exhibits.
- High Museum of Art, Atlanta: This museum’s popular online exhibits include “Civil Rights Photography” — photos that capture moments of social protest like the Freedom Rides and Rosa Park’s arrest.
- Detroit Institute of Arts: Mexican art icon Frida Kahlo is the focal point of two of the four available online exhibits.
- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: The Golden Age of Dutch art is highlighted in this museum which includes the work of Vermeer and Rembrandt.
- National Museum of the United States Air Force: You can’t take a ride in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential airplane, but you can check it out, in addition to other military weapons and aircraft, online in the Air Force’s official museum.
- MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art): New York’s extensive collection is available for view online.
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: The 16 virtual exhibits include a special section on 21st Century Designer Fashion.
- The Google Art Project features fine art from the White House, the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, and even São Paulo street art from Brazil.
Zoos and Aquariums
- The Cincinnati Zoo: Check in around 3 p.m., because that’s the time the Zoo holds a daily Home Safari on its Facebook Live Feed.
- Atlanta Zoo: The Georgia zoo keeps a “Panda Cam” livestream on its website.
- Georgia Aquarium: Sea-dwellers like African penguins and Beluga Whales are the stars of this aquarium’s live cam.
- Houston Zoo: There are plenty of different animals you can check in on with this zoo’s live cam, but we highly recommend watching the playful elephants.
- The Shedd Aquarium: This Chicago aquarium shares some pretty adorable behind-the-scenes footage of their residents on Facebook.
- San Diego Zoo: With what may be the most live cam options, this zoo lets you switch between koalas, polar bears, and tigers in one sitting.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: It can be Shark Week every week thanks to live online footage of Monterey Bay’s Habitat exhibit.
- National Aquarium: Walk through tropical waters to the icy tundra in this floor-by-floor tour of the famous, Baltimore-based aquarium.
- New England Aquarium to see live feeds of the marine life they take care of.
- Walt Disney World: Set aside some time, because there’s plenty to see here. Virtual tours you can take include Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot, just to name a few. There are also unofficial YouTube videos that feel just like you’re on famous rides like the Frozen Ever After ride, It’s a Small World, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort: The Great Lego Race and Miniland USA are just two of the attractions you can check out in a virtual tour of the park.
- SeaWorld Orlando: The virtual tour of Seaworld includes a tour of Discovery Cove and the option to”ride” the steel roller coaster Mako.
- Broadway: to take advantage of the deal, head to BroadwayHD, which has a library of about 300 productions on hand. It’ll give you a seven-day free trial, so you can stream as many shows, plays, and ballets as your musically deprived heart desires.
- Graffiti Tours: Think of a normal Google Earth tour of a block, only every picture perfectly captures the street art of everywhere from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Malmo, Sweden and an art expert’s audio tour plays in the background as you scroll through all the images. These virtual walking tours are perfect for those who love art but hate the establishment.
- Nature Walks: The National Parks Service partnered with Google (yes, Google again) to follow a handful of park rangers through some of Americ’s most stunning and challenging terrains, from the Alaskan Glaciers to Utah’s Bryce Canyon. At the state level, a handful of conservation efforts have developed virtual tours of some of America’s most emblematic landscapes. Start with the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma’s virtual field trip – you have to see for yourself just how soothing these views can be. Sit by a sunny window and let our eyes feast on clear blue skies, red clay formations, and fields of wildflowers.
- Virtual dives are a trippy affair and thanks to the National Marine Sanctuaries, you can explore the blue depths of the American Samoas, the Florida Keys, Monterey Bay, and many others.