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Though COVID-19 vaccines are giving people hope of soon returning to normalcy, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends postponing any long-distance travel plans. Luckily, this doesn’t mean that people cannot still experience the world. One silver lining of travel restrictions is that many tourist attractions are brought directly to you and are completely free. Whether you are looking to learn something new, experience a different culture, or just do something fun, there are plenty of options floating around the internet. So in the meantime, continue to stay safe and enjoy the greatest travel destinations right from your living room, at least until you can visit them in person. 

Appreciate the Arts

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Google’s Arts and Culture Collection contains exhibits from some of the top museums around the world. At the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, visitors can learn about the history and construction of the museum while seeing paintings made by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, and more. The largest collection of Van Gogh’s works can also be accessed online by virtually touring the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Perhaps the most mind-bending is the 360-degree tour of  the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain. Dedicated to the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, this unforgettable tour leads you through the curious mind of Dalí through his paintings, sculptures, mechanical art pieces, and three-dimensional collages. 

If you are looking to expand your horizons past the typical Euro-centric art narrative, The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul is one of Korea’s largest art museums, housing works by Yoo Youngkuk, Park Hyun-ki, and other artists from around the world. Visitors can also tour The Blue House Frida Kahlo’s birthplace, former home, and the place she took her final breath. Preserved in her memory, this museum is filled with the intimacy and vibrant beauty that pervades Kahlo’s work. 

Explore the Natural World

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The United States National Parks perfectly highlight the diverse and magnificent beauty that the nation has to offer. Wildlife photographer and National Parks enthusiast John William Uhler put together a website of every national park live-cam on the internet as of May 2019. Take a moment to explore anything from volcanoes in Hawaii to glaciers in Alaska. 

Nature live-cams are not only available in scenic spots in the United States. YouTube channels, such as Explore Live Nature Cams, have live streams of wild and domesticated animals ranging from bald eagles and manatees to arctic wolves. Many zoos also have 24-hour live streams of animal exhibits for guests to watch for free.

Learn Something New

For museum fans not interested in the arts, Google’s Arts and Culture Collection also has a wide variety of historical museums. At The British Museum, guests can see ancient Egyptian mummies and the famed Rosetta Stone. Viewers can also see exhibits from the  National Museum of African American History and Culture, the only national museum solely dedicated to the history of African Americans, in Washington D.C.

History doesn’t only happen in museums. Several historical sites are offering virtual options such as the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and several American battlegrounds. Virtual travelers can also “walk” along the Great Wall of China, explore the ruins of ancient Greece, and even tour the White House. If you can imagine a place on Earth, there’s likely a virtual tour or live stream of it.

For those into astrology, the Museo Galileo in Florence celebrates the lifetime of scientific contributions of Galileo Galilei. There are also NASA and Air and Space Museum exhibits available for those interested in space travel. To get “meta,” visitors can now visit the National Museum of Computing on their own computers.

For younger audiences and families, the Museum of Science in Boston has virtual exhibits and daily educational live-streams. Boston also hosts the Boston Children’s Museum that offers an interactive tour for children to explore the entire museum. Many children’s museums like Chicago’s Children Museum offer at-home activities for kids of all ages.

Have Some Family Fun

Sometimes you just want to have fun. With many places still closed due to the pandemic, there are only so many times you can have family game night. Luckily there are many different online options to explore. While many amusement parks are open again, that does not mean that they are safe and accessible for everyone. Fortunately, Universal Studios has created virtual experiences with ride simulations, activity ideas, and free shipping on merchandise. Disney also offers virtual experiences of their Walt Disney Museum, along with animation and design workshops and talks hosted by professionals.

Escape rooms have also made the transition to the virtual world, providing both free and paid options for groups to enjoy. Murder Mystery boxes are available to purchase, recreating the experience of an escape room around your dining room table. These boxes contain clues to put together an immersive mystery experience that will have you scratching your head or jumping up and down all night.

Get Planning

With the summer months approaching, young people especially are at risk of the dreadful boredom of lockdown that results without school as a distraction. These online experiences offer exciting remote dates for loved ones, playdates for little ones, ways to hang out with long-distance friends, family fun, or a virtual field trip for students. The possibilities are endless when we have the internet to bring us together while also taking us away on virtual trips.

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