Earlier this year, many of us made plans to pack up our suitcases and hop in a plane, train, bus, or car to take a vacation this spring. Or maybe you were planning time off to relax locally, spend time with friends, and perhaps explore a museum or a new restaurant. Whatever your plans entailed, things are quite different now; and we’re not doing what we had originally expected.
Though this change of plans is disappointing, there are still ways we can “travel” while we stay safe at home. Many cultural institutions have opened their virtual doors; we can take “tours” of national parks and faraway cities; outer space is even available for us to explore! Check out our list of online resources where kids (and adults!) can “travel.” Then, see where your curiosity takes you offline with our recommended follow-up activities.
Here are 10 of our Favorite Digital Destinations:
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
This site offers virtual tours of past, current, and permanent exhibits. Check out Fossil Hall (under past exhibits) for your fill of dinosaurs!
Boston Children’s Museum Virtual Tour & Activities
Zoom past the line for a virtual tour—then check out their daily activities, including projects like making your own butter, homemade tangrams, and easy at-home jewelry.
Google Arts & Culture
Browse several international museum collections (including local favorites like the MFA and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) on this site, as well as virtual tours of cities and world wonders. “Fly” anywhere from the rooftops of Paris to Machu Picchu!
Zoos & Aquariums
New England Aquarium
The site offers live presentations, videos, and at-home activity ideas. Watch aquarium staff feed the penguins, dive into the ocean tank, and train sea lions!
Georgia Aquarium Live Cams
Get an inside look at the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. From sea otters to beluga whales to jellyfish, this place has it all!
San Diego Zoo Live Cams
Watch penguins waddling, apes climbing, and koalas snoozing at the zoo. They even have a live cam for owls—our favorite!
Parks & Nature
National Parks Virtual Visits (also tours through Google Arts & Culture)
Tour an array of destinations including nearby New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and faraway Crater Lake National Park. Google Arts and Culture also provides a deeper dive into sites like the Hawai'i Volcanoes and Carlsbad Caverns.
Study the night sky according to your specific location and connect the dots of the constellations!
Access Mars Virtual Tour
Roam Mars to experience its geography and learn about the Curiosity rover mission and exploration.
Virtual Field Trips by the Nature Conservancy
These lessons, designed for grades 5–8, include a video, teacher guide, and student activities on topics ranging from coral reefs to rainforests!
(This list scratches the surface of virtual tours and activities—feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below!)
Offline Follow-up Activities:
Try out a yummy recipe from a country that you “visited”! Crêpes? Pad Thai? Arepas? Don’t worry if you can’t find all the ingredients—get creative and find substitutions in your own kitchen.
Star gaze! Can you find any of the constellations you learned about in the night sky?
Draw or paint a picture of something you saw—an underwater animal, a famous sculpture, a city's monument, a volcano.
Become a tourist in your own neighborhood! Put on your walking shoes, find a new trail nearby, follow a map, and bring a camera!
Of course, digital experiences cannot compare to the real thing—but they can offer a glimpse into the wonder that awaits us when we can visit these places once again. That time will come. And when it does, we’ll be ready and eager to embark on new adventures.