Go Virtual

Explore these attractions while you’re social distancing

While parks, restaurants, zoos, music venues, museums and more are closed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many people are beginning to feel a little cooped up at home.

Stimulating activities and entertainment around the house may be limited, but you can still visit many of your favorite places with the click of a mouse button.

To spark your creativity and imagination, here are a few suggestions for live streams and virtual tours to help you and your family discover some new places from the comfort and safety of your home.

GO WILD

You can’t visit the animals in person, but you can still see what they’re up to with dozens of live webcams.

Every weekday at 3 p.m. EDT, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden hosts a Home Safari Facebook Live that features a different animal each day. For those who don’t have social media, the zoo will post the safaris on both their website and YouTube. Past safaris are available at http://cincinnatizoo.org/home-safari-resources/.

Viewers can also tune into California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium shark tank, watch sea otters and African penguins frolic, check out birds in the aviary and even see the 1-million-gallon Open Sea exhibit.

For an up-close look at variety of animal habitats, the Houston Zoo and Georgia Aquarium allow you to take control of the webcam positions to see different areas of the exhibits.

While people are away, the penguins will play at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Follow the adventures of Wellington, Edward and Annie on Shedd’s Facebook page.

GET SOME CULTURE

Keep your brain engaged and get a close look at some of the world’s best art.

Take tours of The Smithsonian Museum‘s current and permanent exhibits, as well as a few past exhibits. Users can navigate between adjoining rooms of the museum and click on the camera icons for a closer look.

Google Arts & Culture is packed with museums that allow you to virtually explore halls and online exhibits, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, South Korea, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and even The Louvre.

If you’re looking to bring music and theater into your home, not only are there dozens of live concerts (many of which are being broadcast from the musicians’ homes) all over the internet and social media, but New York City’s Metropolitan Opera is also putting on nightly opera streams that are available until 3:30 p.m. ET the next day. In addition, Universal just launched a YouTube channel called the Shows Must Go On that will stream a full-length musical every Friday at 7 p.m. GMT. The musicals will be available for 48 hours.

TAKE A VIRTUAL VACATION

Dreaming of a day at the beach? Live Beaches is a one-stop shop for live beach cams from coast to coast.

Or let Google Earth be your tour guide as you explore national parks across North America and the U.S. Virgin Islands, from Acadia National Park in Maine to Zion National Park in Utah. In addition, Google Arts & Culture is serving up incredible virtual, interactive tours of Alaska’s Kenai Fjords, Hawaii’s volcanoes, New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns, Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Florida’s Dry Tortugas national parks.

But why stop at national parks? Using Google Maps’ Street View, pick nearly any place in the world, click and drag the person icon in the bottom right corner of the screen and drop it on the place you want to view to zoom in to check out the area, all without having to pack a suitcase or board a plane.

MORE TO DISCOVER

Now more than ever, public attractions are finding ways to engage with people online, and the places included on this list only skim the surface. A simple internet search is sure to reveal some place that piques your curiosity.

For an even more immersive experience, turn on your smart TV and try accessing these sites with those features to make the images really come alive.

And who knows? Perhaps when all the quarantines, travel restrictions and shelter-in-place orders are lifted, you will have seen just enough to entice you to visit these places in person.

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