The coronavirus pandemic has many people stuck at home for the foreseeable future, but that does not mean that our social lives have to end. Thanks to the internet, many people have access to a world of information, media and interactive exhibits. The virus is even forcing many of these online attractions to adapt for more remote viewings.
With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the U.S., people are advised not to leave home except for absolutely essential reasons. Some states and localities even have legal mandates in place to enforce shelter-in-place orders, and it will be weeks at least before these measures can be lifted. In the meantime, some people are looking for ways to wile away their hours inside. Thankfully, there are ways to feel like you are getting out without risking your health.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention itself has recommended the cancellation or postponement of events with more than 50 people until at least May, and most places have taken that to heart. Experts say social distancing remains the most important measure to slow the spread of the virus and mitigate its impact on the healthcare infrastructure of the country.
This means that technologies like virtual tours, Google Street View and other VR experiences are more important than ever for getting out of the house. In some cases, those with VR headsets are at an advantage, though even a TV can offer a breathtaking sensory experience. With self-isolation expected to go on for some time, it may be important to give yourself a reprieve with these kinds of services.
For the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the CDC's website. While you are home, here are some virtual experiences to help stave off cabin fever.
Virtual Disney Tour
With the help of Google Street View, Disney fans can explore the closed theme parks as if they are right there, without waiting in lines or paying through the nose. Disney teamed up with Google to create virtual tours of both Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
National Parks Tour
Some may want to use their time inside to see more of the natural world, such as the National Parks Service's online tour of some of America's greatest wonders. "The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks" online program was made in collaboration with Google's Arts & Culture activation, and includes five national parks — Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida.
Virtual Roller Coasters
If you're more in the market for good old fashioned thrill rides, you can hop on a roller coaster without leaving your home as well. There are actually lots of rollercoaster recordings available on YouTube. Even before social distancing took over, some parents went viral for making "virtual roller coasters" for their children at home.
Aquarium and Zoo Livestreams
Aquariums and zoos are closed, but several of the biggest are offering free virtual tours or livestreams of what is going on inside. Animal lovers can tour the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, or tune in and watch the animals at the San Diego Zoo live. Seeing the pandas snoozing the day away might mitigate some of the guilt for lying around the house, too.
Museum Virtual Tours
Many, many museums are offering free virtual tours of their exhibits while the physical galleries are closed. This includes some of New York's biggest attractions, such as the Guggenheim Museum, where you can see one of the world's most coveted collections of contemporary art.
Likewise, a similar virtual tour is available for The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA in midtown Manhattan. If neither of those attract you, consider the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), which holds timeless works from ancient Greece, as well as some breathtaking architecture to house it all.
Museum Virtual Tours (Cont.)
For something even more informative, you might consider checking out the dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The virtual tour is perfect for school kids who are struggling to stick to a lesson plan outside of the classroom.
Similarly, the British Museum in London's virtual tour allows online visitors to view its collection in an interactive timeline, exploring civilizations from around the world through both time and space.
World Landmark Tours
One of the nice things about virtual daytrips is that you do not even need to confine yourself to one museum, one town or even one continent. With Google's Arts & Culture section, you can visit world landmarks like the Taj Mahal in New Dehli, India and the Sydney Opera House in Australia both in the same day.
Royal Botanic Gardens
In the virtual world, you can even live like royalty for a time with a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. This particular tour began as a set of panoramic pictures taken by visitors and soon became full-blown experiences with Google's Street View feature.
Virtual NASA Flight
Finally, if none of the above earthly attractions call out to you, you can take a trip out of this world with NASA's free Space Center Houston app. It allows users to experience outer space, space travel technology and learn about the latest science in the field along the way.