You’ve made banana bread about 17 times already (or is that just my coworker, Cassy?) and participated in about as many virtual happy hours. As social distancing stretches on, though, you might be itching for some more culturally significant ways to fill your time.
Here are 13 free virtual tours that let you skip the lines (#throwback) at world-class landmarks and add a little learning to your stay-at-home day.
1. Go underground at The Louvre
The Louvre is offering free online tours of its exhibition rooms and galleries. You can even (virtually) walk through the remains of the museum’s moat. (Fun fact: The Louvre was originally a fortress intended to protect Paris from attacks via the Seine). This may be your one shot to see the museum’s wares sans a multi-hour line!
4. Fly over an active volcano at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
This national park protects some of the most unique geological, biological, and cultural landscapes in the world, according to the National Park Service, and is known as one of the most popular parks to visit in Hawai’i. And yes, on the virtual tour, you’ll even be able to “fly” over an active volcano, as well as take in the views from its coastal cliffs.
3. Skip all the lines at Disney World
Virtually experience the attractions and rides at Disney’s parks, including the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom and Disneyland. The sites are accessible via any video streaming device, but if you happen to have a VR headset (as so many of us do, of course), you’re in luck — the Virtual Disney World 360º videos are all streamable on virtual reality devices.
4. See glaciers at Kenai Fjords National Park
Explore fjords and glaciers in Alaska, and learn about the impact climate change is having on Alaska’s wilderness while you’re at it. Snow and ice cover 60 percent of this stunningly untouched park, and its perimeter is lined by a 936-square mile “icefield.”
5. Walk the Great Wall of China
Google’s Heritage on the Edge initiative is making UNESCO World Heritage sites accessible through 3D maps and virtual tours of monuments like the Great Wall of China. The tours are intended to last long after the pandemic is over as a means of helping combat the threat of climate change and preserve these landmarks for future generations, according to InsureMyTrip.
6. See pandas at the Atlanta Zoo
Zoo Atlanta has contributed over $10 million to the conservation of giant pandas in China, making these animals a major focus of their wildlife conservation efforts. And for your daily dose of cuteness, you can catch the zoo’s pandas 24/7 on their PandaCam.
7. Explore caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Located in New Mexico, this famous park features more than 100 well-photographed caves and rock formations, plus some incredible desert views. The virtual tour even lets you get up close and personal with thousands of the caverns’ resident bats. (If that’s your cup of tea!)
8. Visit Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology
This world-class museum is home to the largest collection of ancient Mexican art anywhere and also strives to honor the heritage of Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups. With 23 permanent exhibition halls, it notoriously takes visitors at least a full day to do the museum justice. Luckily for you, with the virtual tour, you can pop in and out as you choose.
9. Climb Machu Picchu
Millions of people visit Machu Picchu each year, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple to get to. Many visitors opt to hike to the UNESCO World Heritage site across multiple days. We’re not saying to not do that, but at least for the time being, you can take in 360-degree views of these stunning Incan ruins online.
10. Give augmented reality a go at NASA
NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia and Glenn Research Center in Ohio are both offering online tours — plus, the Space Center Houston’s app will let you try out an “augmented reality experience” from home.
11. See the world’s foremost Impressionism collection at the Musée d’Orsay
Situated in the center of Paris on the banks of the Seine, this museum is housed in a railway station built for the famous Universal Exhibition of 1900 and is a work of art in and of itself. You’ll get to see that as well as countless works of art from Monet, Degas, Renoir and more on this virtual tour.
12. Catch a sunset from Rio’s most famous peak
Watching over all of Rio is Christ the Redeemer, the world’s largest art deco statue. Walk around the statue’s summit at dusk and soak in views of the city lights, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, and nearby mountain ranges.
13. Create your own Shark Week at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Streaming 24/7 from California, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is keeping people connected to its 80,000 animal and plant residents through a series of live cams. Tune into the aquarium’s shark cam, see what’s happening along its coral reef or check out what the glowing moon jellyfish (!) are up to.