It’ll be just like the real thing, without the virus of course.
Most of us are in week two of self-isolation and it’s getting harder and harder to find things to do. I don’t know about y’all, but I spent my Saturday night performing covers of disco songs on Snapchat, that I was less than proud of on Sunday morning.
Amid the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loneliness of isolation, there is also the disappointment of canceled plans. Many of us have had to cancel travel plans set for April that will no longer be an option due to lockdowns and closed borders. So how do we keep from experiencing the travel blues, knowing that 2020 was supposed to be the year that we live our best and most traveled lives?
I may have a solution for us.
Lately there have been articles floating around about famous attractions that have opened up virtual tours for travelers to explore while in isolation. The idea is to give people the opportunity to make the most out of their time indoors and simulate the experience of travel, while encouraging people to stay home. So grab your favourite travel outfit and your passport because today we’re visiting 11 famous attractions around the world right from the comfort of our living rooms!
- San Diego Zoo, California
First stop on our trip is the San Diego Zoo. If you have young children, or you just love animals, this virtual field trip will be sure to put a smile on your face! On their website the San Diego Zoo features live streams of some of our favorite animals, including apes, baboons, elephants, koalas, pandas, penguins, and more! The best part? The animals are very active! Eating, playing, and enjoying the sun, each animal is in full action during the stream. The zoo has also prepared a profile for each animal below the video stream for you to get to know the zoo’s inhabitants personally and become more informed about their species.
- The Great Wall of China
Here is an opportunity to get your steps in. Heading west on our trip, our next stop is the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall is a massive expanse of stone walls meant to fortify the northern borders of China. Overall, the entire structure stretches over 13,000 miles across, but you won’t have to walk that far! On this website you can virtually tour multiple sections of wall, including Jiankou and Jiaoshan and the stairway to heaven, an almost vertical climb to one of the wall’s highest points. With incredible 360 degree HD photos, it truly is a breathtaking experience!
- Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Next we visit the 7th wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal in India. A truly Magnificent Structure, The Taj Mahal has dazzled tourists with its pristine marble walls for over 400 years. To view it, you can choose between a virtual tour and a virtual video, both in ultra HD and offering 360 degree views of the Taj Mahal and surrounding area. This tour even includes enchanting music to match the marvel of this attraction. Pull this link up on your smart tv, or connect your laptop for even better viewing.
- Gombe National Park, Tanzania
If you’re less of a tourist and more of an adventurer then you’re going to love this next stop. Grab your safari hat because we’re headed into the wild, on a virtual tour through the Gombe National Park in Tanzania on the continent of Africa. I chose this destination because of its unique hiking trails. Gombe is home to the world’s most well documented population of Chimpanzees living in the wild, so our tour guide on this virtual hike is a chimp named Glitter and her small daughter, Gossamer. They take us to their favorite play spots, and let me warn you now, it is entirely possible to get separated from your guide. If you find yourself lost, you can either start the tour over, or go hangout with their friends in the forest canopy. The entire tour is sure to keep you interested and busy for a while.
Pro Tip: Google Earth offers free virtual tours of hundreds of national parks all over the world. So if hiking is your thing, then check out some of the highest peaks the world has to offer.
- The Louvre, Paris, France
Heading north from Tanzania, the next stop on our world tour is for art lovers everywhere. The Louvre is one of the largest art museums in the world, and it’s very easy to get lost in the maze of floors. If a trip to the Louvre is on your list, consider this an opportunity to map out all the things you want to see before you actually get there. When I visited Paris back in 2018, I had no idea just how extensive the museum really was. If I had known about the virtual tours it would have saved me hours of wandering around and getting lost. On the Louvre’s website there are three main exhibits that you can tour virtually right now. Egyptian Antiquities, Medieval Louvre, and the Galerie d’Apollon offer just a glimpse into the huge museum. Grab a glass of red wine, a savory pastry, turn on some classical music, and take a stroll through the halls of The Louvre.
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Continuing north, we are now heading to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Outside of being a central hub for the recreational use of cannabis, Amsterdam is also the home of the Vincent Van Gogh Museum. This museum honors one of the most influential and most tragic modern artists in Western history. The Van Gogh Museum pays tribute to the artists’ life and work, displaying the largest number of original paintings by Van Gogh in the world. With over 1,400 original works, and thousands of works by inspired artists, there is plenty to see and appreciate. So sit back, roll a blunt (kidding!), and browse through the works of Vincent Van Gogh.
- British Museum, London, UK
Continuing our tour of museums, we head next to the British Museum in London, England. Here we tour another massive museum that takes you through some of history’s greatest time periods, from the Rosetta stone and the rise of Egypt, to the Parthenon and ancient greek relics. The artifacts found in the British Museum will spark your inner historian and inspire you to make the most out of this time in isolation.
- Museu de Arte de São Paulo
Next our trip takes us to the southwest corner of the world, to São Paulo, Brazil in South America. The Museu De Arte de São Paulo offers a modern take on the traditional museum with seemingly floating paintings that form a maze in the center of each room that you can slowly peruse as you make your way through the works. Be inspired by the vibrant and beautiful works of art, which range from 300 BCE all the way up to 2016, offering a new perspective on the history of Brazil.
- Martinique, Caribbean
I’m sure by now you’re exhausted from all the museums and you probably just want to relax. Well this next virtual tour is the perfect getaway. Sit back and relax on the island of Martinique where you can spend 8 wonderful minutes on a white sand beach listening to waves gently lap the shore with seagulls calling in the background. This beach paradise is guaranteed to help you release the tension that has been building in your shoulders over the last few days. Put on your favorite swimsuit, lay a towel down in front of the tv, and allow yourself to drift away on this beautiful island.
- The Metropolitan Opera, New York
Put on a face and whip out your best dress because we’re going to the opera! If you have always wanted to go to an Opera but couldn’t afford it (like me), then now is your chance to scratch it off your bucket list. Since the Met Opera in New York has suspended its 19-20 season due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, they have allowed their audiences to stream old performances for free each night through the end of March. A vast majority of their previous performances will be available, including Carmen, Tristan and Isolde, and La boheme. Find a full list of each night’s performance and how to watch it here.
- Yosemite National Park, California
Our world tour comes to a satisfying end back in California. On a scenic hike through Yosemite National Park, Virtual Yosemite, you can tour every corner of the park including the community centers, hotels, walking tours, hiking trails, waterfalls, and mountains with accompanying sounds. If you enjoy a scenic walk and the soothing sounds of nature then this virtual tour is the perfect way to spend your time indoors.
I know that self-isolation has put a real damper on the first half of the year, but it is important to stay optimistic and look on the bright side of things. I hope that these virtual tours give you something to look forward to and help you find new corners of the world to explore once this is all over.