Virtual field trips you can take from home

Explore zoos, parks and museums without leaving the house.
San Diego Zoo
By Kerry Breen

Kids and parents might be spending more time inside these days — but thanks to the miracles of technology, they can still take fun field trips and learn from the world around them.

Dozens of groups have created online field trips and educational resources that allow people to explore zoos, museums and other exciting places while still staying safe from the coronavirus, which has led to extended school closures across the country.

We've gathered some of our favorite virtual activities below.

Earth Day virtual field trips

Celebrate Earth Day on April 15 with these eco-friendly virtual field trips.

1. Visit a Finnish forest

Wander through dense trees, explore hidden pathways, and learn about the different species that call this forest their home. This virtual trip changes based on your own interests and offers an up-close look at an amazing habitat.

2. Explore the Arctic

Stream this video, featuring top scientists from Discovery Education and Polar Bears International, to get some of your biggest questions about the Arctic answered while polar bears roam in the background. The site also has educational information and lesson resources for those who want to learn more.

3. Learn about eco-friendly cars

Get some virtual driving lessons in and learn how technological advancements are helping scientists create the environmentally friendly cars of the future!

Theme Parks

1. Disney World and Disney Land

Even though these world-famous parks are closed for the foreseeable future, you can get the Disney experience without leaving your home. Experience rides in the Magic Kingdom, explore the Animal Kingdom, watch shows in Epcot or stroll through Hollywood Studios. For a real blast from the past, you can even virtually experience rides and shows that no longer operate. To complete the experience, click onto their playlist of hotel and transportation videos. If you're more interested in the California park, there's a playlist for that too.

2. Universal Parks

Check out Universal Orlando's YouTube channel for 360-degree ride experience videos, walk-throughs of popular attractions and even videos from Halloween Horror Nights, in case real life isn't scary enough for you these days. (Disclosure: Universal Parks are owned by the same parent company as TODAY.)

3. Seaworld Orlando

Take a virtual tour of Seaworld with this interactive map shared by the city of Orlando. Explore attractions and gathering places, take in gorgeous views, and even swim along with sea life. If you have a VR headset, you can use that for a completely immersive experience. Seaworld's YouTube site also has plenty of videos showing off food, animals and the gorgeous park itself.

Zoos and national parks

1. Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari

While the Cincinnati Zoo is closed, they'll be live-streaming from the zoo each weekday at 3 p.m. EDT. Each stream will highlight one of the zoo's amazing animals, and include an activity that can be done from home.

2.San Diego Zoo

Take a peek into various zoo exhibits with these live cameras from the San Diego Zoo! There's also an archive of old footage, if you're looking for more animal fun.

3. National Parks Service

Get some virtual fresh air and explore some of the country's most famous national parks with the National Park Service's YouTube channel. Full of information and gorgeous footage, dozens of parks are featured.

4. Reid Park Zoo

This zoo in Tucson, Arizona is offering an up-close view at elephants, grizzly bears, lions, and more with live zoo cams! You can also check out the zoo's social media accounts for downloadable activity pages, behind the scenes information, and fun animal facts.

5. The Tucson Botanical Garden and Butterfly Garden

Another Arizona attraction, the Tucson Botanical Gardens are streaming a live webcam of their butterfly exhibit, allowing people all over the country to enjoy some tropical beauty.

Museums and art galleries

1. Google Arts and Culture

Thanks to this partnership with 500 museums around the world, kids can get a glimpse of some of the most incredible collections available. Take a look at internationally renowned sites like the British Museum in London or the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence, Italy. If you're looking for something a little more niche, try taking a look at the National Quilt Museum in Kentucky.

There's also the Google Art Project, which gives you access to more than 1,000 works of art featured in 17 of the world's greatest museums.

2. MetKids

This site from New York City's Museum of Metropolitan Art lets kids explore the famous museum with an interactive map. Behind-the-scenes videos feature kids just like them, and a "time machine" allows them to explore thousands of years of art. Fun facts and creative projects abound.

3. ArtThink

This site, created by the San Francisco Museum of Modern art, offers activities in visual arts, language arts, history and social studies. Keep your kid thinking hard while exposing them to some amazing modern artwork.

Travel

1. “Reefs Go Live” with The Central Caribbean Marine Institute

Take a break from the boredom of social distancing by taking a virtual deep dive into one of the most beautiful sites on the planet. The Central Caribbean Marine Institute has opened up its free interactive learning modules, giving parents and students alike a chance to look at stunning underwater visuals in the Cayman Islands, ask questions about the environment and access additional educational materials. Live Q&A sessions on Friday mornings allow people to connect with renowned scientists.

2. Pier House Resort & Spa

Sure, vacations might have been cancelled, but you can still unwind in the soothing environment of the Florida Keys with this webcam. A live stream from the Pier House Resort and Spa offers gorgeous views of sunsets, palm trees, sailboats and glorious ocean views across the Gulf of Mexico.

For parents and adults

Kids aren't the only ones who need extracurriculars. As workout classes cancel and restaurants shut down across the nation, adults and parents might be getting antsy as well.

1. Workout classes

Don't skip the gym just because social distancing is keeping you inside! Orangetheory is posting new 30-minute workouts daily, Barry's Bootcamp is offering free at-home workouts on IGTV twice a day and popular NYC cardio dance studio 305 Fitness is sharing fun daily dance sessions on their YouTube channel.

2. Cooking classes

Gordon Ramsay offers classes teaching basic cooking skills on his YouTube channel. It's just like learning from the chef himself, although if you mess up you'll have to call yourself an "idiot sandwich."

3. The Metropolitan Opera

Get your culture fix with free concerts from the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera! Planned performances at the venue have been cancelled, but the show will go on with pre-recorded concerts and shows. Each night, a different show will begin streaming at 7 p.m. EDT and remain available until 3:30 p.m. EDT the following day.