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Incredible things you can do virtually (for free!) right now

Spring break just turned into a staycation and in is the new out as the COVID-19 pandemic is transforming life as we know it. It’s particularly hard-hitting for our extracurriculars and cultural experiences. As we all do our best to #flattenthecurve by staying home as much as possible, if you’re like us, you’re missing… places. The good news? They miss you too and hallelujah, they are doing something about it. 

As a silver lining, some of the world’s top attractions and museums have risen to the occasion and gone digital, opening their virtual doors and inviting visitors to come in and explore right from the comfort of their homes. And boy have they brought their A-Game — some of these are seriously cool. Tour some of the world’s most beloved museums (ahem, hello Louvre!), hop on Disneyland’s rides, watch a Broadway or London show (for free!), and even take an underwater dive, hike in Nepal or rove on Mars. 

First, some tips for how to properly enjoy:

  1. Make an event of it: you’d plan a day or night out right? So put these events on your calendar and put your phone and distractions away.
  2. Set the mood: get out the snacks and drinks (why not have fun with a related theme?) and cozy up with our Staycation Collection.
  3. Involve others: make it a family affair, share what you’ve enjoyed on social like any cool experience, take virtual tours with your friends online, make a virtual travel club and discuss with others!
  4. Check out our Staycation Collection for the gear to bring home

Here are just some of the virtual experiences we’ve been checking out: 

Google’s got it going on:

Google Arts & Culture has compiled this huge list of virtual tours + online exhibits of over 2,500 museums and exhibits around the world like the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City and so many more.

Street Art graffiti tours around the world from the Google Cultural Institute or view 12 Banksy murals on Street View.

Discover the great wonders in our own backyard with incredible interactive, narrated explorations of our US National Parks.

Understand the impacts of climate change on iconic sites around the with Heritage on the Edge.

Explore the Surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover 325 million miles away.

Bring the world’s great talents to your home screens:

The neon lights are still bright on Broadway when you live stream your favorites with a one-week free trial from BroadwayHD.com.

London’s West End shows are coming to your living room with the National Theater at Home screening a live production free every Thursday at 3p.m. EST/12p.m. PST also available on-demand for seven days. Discover great classics from the city of love.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is offering free nightly live streams at least through April 5th, starting at 7:30 p.m. EST and available for 20 hours.

Stars, they’re just like us… and stuck in the house, but joining The Actors Fund’s mini-broadway shows every day at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET via its YouTube page.

The Paris Opera is now streaming the most beautiful ballets and operas from its website for free.

World explorations are endless with 360° tours:

Check out the many Google videos that explore world travel destinations, historic sites and a closer look at culture from Coco Chanel’s iconic little black dress to the bathroom on a space shuttle.

Take a 360° tour of the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama via Facebook with the virtual-reality experience Felix & Paul Studios have shared.

The 360° Collection from National Geographic—need we say more?!

Work your way through major world cities and destinations with incredible virtual AirPano tours.

The world is your oyster on YouTube: tour the Sydney Opera House in 360 set to sounds of its orchestra, Parachute in a wingsuit over Dubai, surround yourself with wild elephants in South Africa.

Take a ‘walk’ on the wild side:

Explore the underwater depths of the American Samoas, the Florida Keys, Monterey Bay, and many others with cool virtual dives from the National Marine Sanctuaries.

The Cincinnati Zoo will be hosting a Home Safari on their Facebook Live Feed at 3 p.m. ET with up-close animal experiences, plus activities to do at home. The San Diego Zoo live cams and Houston Zoo live cams let you see what’s happening now.

Check in on the live aquarium webcams for the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, the Georgia Aquariums and the New England Aquarium to see live feeds of the marine life they take care of.

Spring break comes to you with theme parks & front-seat roller coaster rides:

Take a virtual tour of Lego Land in Florida,

Walk the wonders of Disney Parks with 360-panoramas on Google Street view.

The YouTube page Virtual Disney World (not Disney-affiliated) has compiled a free video playlist of virtual, interactive 360° rides. (Just search “Disney ride” on YouTube for lots more!)

Watch videos from other Disney parks around the world too, including Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor and Disneyland Paris’s Ratatouille ride.

Get the thrills and chills from your couch and virtually ride the roller coasters on the YouTube pages of Kings Islands, Cedar Point, Knoebels Amusement Park, Top 5 Scariest Roller Coasters. Go global and ride the Sky Scream Roller Coaster in Germany, the Steel Dragon in Japan, Ultra Twister Coaster in Japan and Ferrari World Roller Coaster in Dubai.

Check out the YouTube videos of Top 10 Ten Tallest Roller Coasters in the World and 10 CRAZIEST Roller Coasters in the World and 10 MOST INSANE Roller Coasters YOU WON’T BELIEVE EXIST!

Just in case you still need a more few ideas:

Hours of fun facts and history lessons await when you cruise the Smithsonian online exhibits.

Space nerd?  Virginia’s Langley Research Center and Ohio’s Glenn Research Center have free online tours. Try a little “augmented reality ” on The Space Center Houston’s app.

The Airbus Foundation Discovery Space online portal helps young people understand science through the world of aerospace. It’s also a science education partner for teachers and parents to engage students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Go on a virtual walking tour of cities in the U.S and around the world with Wind Walk Travel Videos on YouTube.

Join Kraig Adams on his hiking videos across Chile, Nepal, Hong Kong and more, with tailed with explanations of how he planned them.

Why not get an actual VR cardboard viewer and use your cell phone to even better immerse yourself in the many incredible Google Earth VR (stroll the streets of Tokyo, soar over Yosemite, or teleport across the globe) and other videos available online? Check out this round-up we found here, including instructions to make your own if you were so inclined!

Nikon is streaming their 15-minute to one-hour-plus photography classes for free in April too! Point, click and shoot like a pro when we’re ready to travel again.

Stay safe… and keep exploring all the treasures out there wanderlust warriors!

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