Need to Scratch That Travel Itch? 7 Virtual Vacations for the Whole Family
The pandemic has made travel pretty difficult for the time being. Airports and crowded spaces are havens for the coronavirus, and if you want to keep your loved ones safe, steering clear of big museums, public landmarks, and busy theme parks is probably for the best this summer — no matter how much you might be wanting out of the house.
Fortunately, these aren’t your only options for scratching that travel itch. In fact, thanks to a number of virtual vacations that are out there, you can actually enjoy some pretty cool escapes all from the comfort of your own home.
Are you yearning to travel but don’t want further exposure to COVID-19? Here are seven virtual vacations you may want to take the family on:
1. Head to a world-class museum.
Many of the world’s top museums have virtual tours, offering digital looks at their galleries, exhibits, artwork, and historical artifacts. You’ll find many of these in the Google Arts & Culture collection — including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Getty Museum, The Acropolis Museum, and The Guggenheim.
Some museums are also offering their own digital tours, including:
- The Louvre
- The National Gallery of Art
- The Vatican Museum
- National Galleries Scotland
- Picasso Museum
- Tate Modern
2. Visit Disney World or Universal Studios.
Have little ones who are begging for a classic summer theme park adventure?
Then head to virtual Disney World. Just log onto Google Street View to walk the park’s streets in 3D, and click over to YouTube to experience your favorite ride. There’s even a 360-degree Space Mountain video.
Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter also offer a variety of virtual tours and immersive video experiences.
3. Hit the zoo or aquarium.
Many of the nation’s best zoos are offering virtual tours and content right now. On the San Diego Zoo’s website, you can live-stream the animals in real-time, and the Houston Zoo also offers similar webcam options. Other zoos with online perks include The Atlanta Zoo and the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Aquariums are also offering virtual tours and live streams. Here are just a few to get you started:
- The Georgia Aquarium
- The New England Aquarium
- The Dallas World Aquarium
- The Monterey Aquarium
- Moody Gardens
- The Maritime Aquarium
The National Marine Sanctuaries is also doing virtual underwater dives with sea lions and throughout various reefs and banks across the world.
4. See a virtual landmark or historic site.
Google Arts & Culture also offers up-close-and-personal tours of historical landmarks across the globe. Check out the Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, NASA, the Paris Opera, and the Anne Frank House.
The Great Wall of China is also available in virtual form. Walk the wall and explore the views in 360 degrees here. Grand Canyon virtual tours are available, too, through Arizona State University.
Some other landmarks and historic spots you may want to check out virtually include:
- Old Faithful and Yellowstone Park
- Colonial Williamsburg
- Ellis Island
- Easter Island
- The Pyramids of Giza
- Machu Picchu
- The Taj Mahal
- The White House
5. Spend a day at the farm.
See how a real-life farm works with Farm Food 360. The site offers behind-the-scenes looks at various animal farms (sheep, mink, dairy cow, etc.), as well as how grain, milk, cheese, and eggs are farmed. If you’re looking for more farm-related educational content for the kiddos, the American Egg Board has some grade-specific virtual field trips, too.
6. Rocket into space.
Forget virtual tours here on Earth. Why not try some out-of-this-world options, too? Head to Access Mars to tour the surface of the red planet, check out Stellarium Web to see the stars, constellations, and planets, or view your live skymap at this online planetarium.
NASA also has an entire “NASA at Home” series that offers e-books, virtual tours, apps, videos, and podcasts that are updated daily.
7. Walk the beach.
Wish your toes were in the sand, and you were soaking up the sun on a beach somewhere? It’s not exactly the same, but a number of virtual tours can transport you to some of the world’s best and sunniest beaches. Here’s Curacao, Aruba, Florida’s St. Pete Beach, The Hamptons, and Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach.
You can even hop in the water and swim with the sharks, dive into the Great Barrier Reef, or join the Dolphin Swim Club.
Don’t let travel restrictions get you down
Travel might be more difficult right now, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck at home all summer. With these virtual vacation options, you and your loved ones can have fun, see the sights, and maybe even learn a little while you’re at it.
And the best part?
You’ll save serious cash on travel fees, too. (And that means an even better vacation is in the cards once the current health crisis clears up).