With all the precautions needed for a simple trip to the grocery store, it’s no surprise that many families are choosing to stay home this year. While recent events may be keeping us confined to the couch, there are still many ways to stay connected and adventurous right in our own backyards. So join us as we use our imaginations, technology and the power of the Internet to harness our wanderlust and keep exploring the world and its many wonders.
Escape to Italy
From towering churches to spacious piazzas, Italy boasts a world of options for 3D explorations. Head to the fashion capitol of the world and tour the Milan Cathedral or Duomo. Take in the stained glass, a rooftop view from the spires of the cathedral terraces, or the exhibit rooms inside the Duomo museums among others. Beat the crowds in Rome this summer and take a virtual visit to the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican website also provides 360 degree views of the gardens, Pontifical Villas and the Vatican City museums. Pair this with a hearty slice of Roman style pizza for a truly immersive experience.
Learn the Hula in Hawaii
Experience the magic of the Hawaiian Islands by exploring Oahu’s Polynesian cultural center. Hosting a robust collection of video tours, dance performances, cooking lessons and stories about Hawaiian history, their YouTube channel boasts over 164K subscribers and dozens of informative videos. GoHawaii, sponsored by the national board of tourism, is also a hotbed of resources covering hula, music, luau and cultural traditions. So settle in with a tiki drink, some hulihuli chicken and all makings of an authentic plate lunch to set the tone and whisk you away for an island afternoon.
Go High Altitude in Peru
With its stunning views and steep inclines, Machu Picchu isn’t for the faint of heart. The multi-day trek and low oxygen levels discourage all but the most dedicated travelers. Luckily, a virtual tour of Machu Picchu exists so you can get a glimpse of one of the most incredible landmarks in the world. So walk to the edge, peek into the courtyards and stay on the lookout for friendly alpacas.
Journey to Japan
Even without eager tourists looking on, Japans famed cherry blossoms bloom onward. The National Cherry Blossom festival has gone virtual this year, with streaming views of the foliage, Taiko drumming performances and stunning footage of the trees themselves. If you are looking to take in a bit more of the frantic pace of Tokyo life, check out the videos of Shibuya Crossing, a popular intersection in the city where pedestrians cross from all corners at once. For something totally immersive, Visit Japan has put together a total VR Experience using only your smartphone. Zoom though teahouses, sumo centers and traditional Japanese theatres right from the comfort of your couch.
Return to Nature with National Parks
Not all of us will get the chance to climb El Capitan in Yosemite national park, but everyone can experience the virtual thrill of tagging along with pro climbers Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell as they do the seemingly impossible. In collaboration with Google and the National Parks service, this unique VR experience allows viewers to experience the thrill of this 3,000-foot interactive journey. Heights not your thing? The National Parks foundation has many virtual tour options to suit any interest. For example, visit Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs Arkansas for a gilded age tour of historic spas, check out the historic windmills and plantations on St. John at the Virgin Islands National Park or even dive into the rich marine life as part of the underwater webcam of the Channel Islands National Park in California.