Activities

Can't leave the house? Take the kids on a virtual vacation

These destinations are offering virtual travel experiences you can enjoy from your couch.

Hands up if your kids have cabin fever? Being stuck at home on a normal day can be tough, but pair that with self-isolation and adventure-seeking kids and everyone’s likely craving a little escape. Thankfully, some of the most exciting destinations across the globe have your family covered.

These virtual “field trips” are a great way to take a break from the day-to-day grind, and may even inspire you to start planning your next family vacation (once it’s safe, of course).

Arizona

Overlook the desert on a virtual hike through the Grand Canyon or take in the Montezuma Castle National Monument built and used by the Sinagua people, a pre-Colombian culture closely related to the Hohokam and other indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, between approximately 1100 and 1425 AD.

Bermuda

Take the kids on the historic Railway Trail overlooking the beach to explore the entire island.

Calgary

Paging all animal lovers! Toggle between three cameras (two inside the panda habitat, and one outside) to see what the giant pandas, Er Shun and Da Mao, are up to today at the Calgary Zoo.

Chicago

The Windy City is one of our favourite family destinations. While you can’t currently enjoy a slice of Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza, you can visit some of the top attractions. The Adler Planetarium is offering a Let’s Do Science video series to help parents design at-home experiments. Dino-enthusiasts can ask Máximo the Field Museum’s titanosaur what life was like during the Cretaceous Period, how he came to be at the museum, and even his favourite colour or what he likes to eat.

For more animal experiences, the Brookfield Zoo is bringing the zoo to you with Facebook broadcasts, while the Lincoln Park Zoo is offering keeper chats, virtual habitat tours and Q&As with Zoo Director Megan Ross on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With the Shedd Aquarium’s Underwater Beauty live cam, kids can watch jellies pulse, eels ribbon and a rainbow of reef fish.

Cincinnati

Welcome back to our Home Safari as we check in our with giraffe herd! We can’t wait to introduce you to 4-month-old Theo, 9-month-old Fennessy, Tessa, Cece & Zoey! After the video check out this page on our website for a fun activity you do at home – http://cincinnatizoo.org/home-safari-resources/. We love to see your completed projects so share them with us when you’re done. If you’re enjoying these Home Safaris, please consider making a small donation. We rely on ticket revenue, so being closed has an giraffe-sized impact on Zoo operations. Your support makes a difference now more than ever. Thank you!

Posted by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on Thursday, March 26, 2020

Every day at 3 p.m. EST, the famous zoo and botanical garden takes you into their world through Facebook Live, where kids can meet residents, like Isla, the southern tamandua, or Sir Francis the red river hog.

Colorado Springs

Blast off with virtual tours, dynamic multimedia content and other inspirational educational programs and activities from the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center. If you have an older kid who’s very space-keen, the Space4U podcast features live interviews with space experts.

Make friends with the giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo with the live giraffe cams or head to their Facebook page for keeper talks, animal demonstrations and at-home activities like guided animal sketching.

Costa Rica

Is your kid obsessed with doing volcano experiments? Give them a taste of the real thing with these virtual experiences from Costa Rica. Using Google Earth, kids can explore the Arenal VolcanoRincón de la Vieja (the OVISCORI from the National University of Costa Rica provides real-time photos), which features nine craters and 32 rivers flowing down its sides, the country’s largest volcano, Poás (see OVISCORI real-time photos), the country’s tallest volcano, Irazú, and lesser known Miravalles Volcano.

Or give your family a taste of the pura vida—and get them involved in cooking—with these easy to follow cooking demos. We’re partial to arroz con leche, but there are lots to choose from!

Denver

Virtually Denver offers visitors a broad range of easily accessible online experiences. The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre link features live recorded music concerts of top performing artists, while the Denver Zoo’s “Zoo to You: Virtual Safari” offers recorded video tours guided by zoo experts introducing many of the zoo’s full-time animal residents. Online offerings from Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum and many others add to the ever-growing collection.

Florida

Virtually visit your favourite beach in the State through a variety of webcam feeds or zoom, zoom, zoom to the moon by signing up for one of the rocket launches from the Space Coast. The next launch will take place on April 29th.

Fort Myers & Sanibel

3/31: Star Wars

Where are our Star Wars fans at? We are making lightsabers, droids, and sorting you into team light side or team dark side today. Stay tuned all week for Star Wars themed videos!

Posted by IMAG History & Science Center on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The IMAG History & Science Center in downtown Fort Myers is offering daily digital lessons, live interactive demos, DIY activities, STEM at home classes, live animal encounters and more on their website.

For animal adventures, head to the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Facebook page where kids can do wildlife yoga, go on scavenger hunts or get crafts ideas for at home.

Hawaii

More volcano fun can be found at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Here, kids can go on a guided virtual tour with a park ranger who grew up in the area.

Ireland

Dromoland Castle, a 16th century castle in the Irish countryside of County Clare, invites little ones to be the king or queen of their own castle. The Castle’s own Una Heaton—a watercolor artist and former museum curator—will lead virtual arts and crafts projects for families to join while homeschooling, including a step-by-step tutorial on how to craft a castle from materials available around the house. Kids will learn how to construct big castle doors, stone towers and tiny Irish flags.

Build Your Own Dromoland Castle

If you need a break from home-schooling, take some time out and make your own Dromoland Castle. 🏰We have teamed up with local Limerick artist, Una Heaton to bring you a step-by-step arts and crafts lesson using every day household items. Enter our competition! 📢We would love to see your completed castle, share a picture in the comments for your chance to win a Dromoland Castle Teddy Bear.

Posted by Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Club on Monday, March 23, 2020

Israel

Give little ones a taste of Israeli culture with a virtual tour of The Israel Museum. You will also find interactive videos and activities on the museum’s site. 

Jamaica

This tropical island wants to give everyone a taste of the Caribbean from their couch. On April 6th, they’ll launch a weekly series called “Escape to Jamaica” on their Instagram account featuring virtual dance parties, live cooking demos and pre-recorded wellness sessions.

Japan

If you’ve ever been curious about visiting Japan, you’ll want to check out this 360-degree VR movie from the Japan National Tourism Organization, which takes you on a wide-ranging tour of the country that features everything from bamboo forests to sushi making.

Or if you just need a kitty fix, this live feed of a Kyoto cat cafe should do the trick.

Kissimmee

Orlando’s sister city doesn’t want self isolation to mean your kids have to miss out on all things fun. Experience a leisurely bike ride, stroll through the nearby theme parks (virtually, that is), and perhaps enjoy a few high-flying thrills through their selection of VR experiences.

Want to take a break from screens? Experience Kissimmee has put together a Spotify playlist featuring the sounds of Disney parks to give you a virtual trip until you can visit again.

Long Beach

The Aquarium of the Pacific is offering a ton of online programming for mini marine biologists, including livestreams of exhibits where you can spot penguins, sharks, and jellyfish. Listen to some whalesong at the online Whales: Voices in the Sea exhibit, and keep those brain cells from turning into oatmeal with the Online Learning Center.

Manitoba

Have you ever wanted to see the Northern Lights? Thanks to the folks at Polar Bears International and Explore.org, you can stream the spectacular natural fireworks show without trudging through the snow.

Massachusetts

Did you take your tween to see the latest rendition of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women? The entire 2019 film was shot in Massachusetts, and fans can now take a virtual tour of Alcott’s house. For more Massachusetts history, the Salem Witch Museum is offering curious kids a virtual tour to learn about all aspects of the Salem Witch Trials. 

Craving an aquatic adventure? Check out the daily Facebook tours of the USS Constitution or take a virtual visit to the New England Aquarium, where you can meet the divers that swim in the big tanks or watch a harbour seal get his teeth brushed.

And if a visit to the Boston Children’s Museum has been on your bucket list, you can take a virtual tour of the museum—a useful tool for planning your physical trip there in the future!

Mexico

This stunning VR video takes little ones on an adventure-filled dive, where they can see giant manta rays, dolphins and more.

New Hampshire

Get a healthy does of nature with a 360° hike, the live view from the Summit overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and views from the summit of Mount Washington.

New York City

Looking for a slice of the Big Apple? The Broadway Dreams foundation is hosting free daily Broadway Dreams Live Lessons for aspiring student actors, singers and dancers with some accomplished Broadway-caliber talent.

While The Amazing Max is on hiatus from Off-Broadway performances, the Amazing Max himself will offer online magic lessons for kids. Note: this is a paid service.

At the Children’s Museum of Art, parents can watch how-to art projects online to try out at home.

But a trip to New York City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Central Park. Check out Strawberry Fields, Alice in Wonderland and more on a guided virtual stroll.

New York (state)

Weekly children’s programming including artful afternoons and tours for tots available on Hyde Collection’s YouTube channel. Craving a taste of the outdoors? Nicandri Nature Center hosts daily virtual nature program on the centre’s Facebook page or just relax with virtual story time and activities at the Children’s Museum at Saratoga.

For some animal fun, peek the baby goat cam at Beekman 1802, visit April the giraffe at Animal Adventure park, the red pandas, herons, and more on the Trevor Zoo live webcams or check out webcams of “Ambassador” wolves Atka, Alawa, Zephyr and Nikai, and seven elusive packs of critically endangered wolves via unobtrusive cameras in and around anticipated den sites.

North Carolina

Explore more than 20 iconic mountain hikes in the Asheville Area or take flight with kitty Hawk Kites in a tandem hang glider for a 360 view of Currituck, in the Outer Banks.

Missing Carowind’s world-class rides? Get a POV playlist of some of your favourite roller coasters, ride and water park thrills.

Oregon

Got 20 minutes to kill? The Beaver State has you covered with their Oregon Moment of Zen video series, which feature clips of a musical performance at The Painted Hills, painting autumn colours en plein air at Lithia Park, watching waves lap the shore in Samuel H. Boardman State Park, fly fishing on the Deschutes River, chasing waterfalls at Salt Creek Falls, touring the Portland Japanese Garden and a relaxing fireside overlooking Mt. Hood and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl.

Orlando

It’s no secret that Orlando is one of the most popular destinations for families. Thankfully, you don’t have to miss out on the action, thanks to Visit Orlando’s cool interactive experiences. Kids can try riding the tallest roller coaster, ziplining over alligators, or standing on Main Street in front of Cinderella Castle. There are more than 85 experiences on The Orlando Virtual Tour.

For a taste of the theme parks,  the Disney Parks YouTube channel offers a sneak peek of new rides like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or virtually visit Universal Orlando Resort to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley or take a virtual ride on The Dragon at Legoland Florida Resort.

a virtual look at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The VR experience at Universal Orlando Resort.

No trip to Florida would be complete without alligators! Gatorland’s School of Croc hosts a Facebook live every day at 10 a.m. and shares live-action encounters with animals including Burmese pythons, crocodiles, alligators and monitor lizards on their YouTube channel.

Puerto Rico

For rich history and culture, exceptional food, pristine beaches, majestic mountains, relaxation, adventure, you can explore San Juan by drone.

Rocky Mountaineer Train

This one’s for the train fanatic in your life. Take a virtual ride on the famous, glass-domed train winding through the mountains. The 360 views let you experience the cars inside and out.

San Diego

This world-famous San Diego zoo has a dozen live cams, letting kids drop in on several exotic species, including tigers, elephants, baboons and koalas.

Sea Lion Beach

Peep sea lions barking, playing but mostly lazily cuddling together at Orca Lab, a whale research station in British Columbia.

Seattle

Take them on a virtual field trip to the Woodland Park Zoo, where in addition to watching the critters on the Zoo Webcam live stream you’ll find a hub of educational activities that’s being updated weekly.

The Seattle Art Museum is featuring exhibits on its Stay Home with SAM blog, and the Museum of Flight has a virtual 3D self-guided tour that even takes you inside the cockpits of various aircraft.

South Africa

An African safari isn’t in the budget for most families, but now, thanks to Africam and Explore.org, kids can visit Tembe Elephant Park (here and here), Cat-Eye Game Lodge, the birds at Naledi Dam, leopards and lions at Nkorho and Nkorho Bush Lodge, the lions, hippos and monkeys at Olifants River (here and here), Kwa MaritaneTau Waterhole and Rosie’s Pan.

Texas

The Lone Star state has lots on offer for kids stuck at home. At Thinkery (Austin Children’s Museum), little ones can enjoy digital storytime. Feel like going for a walk outside? Take a virtual walk through the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum from the comfort of your home.

For science experiments that can be done at home, head to The Children’s Museum of Houston.

Bring some San Antonio vibes into your home with a virtual tour of the world famous Alamo.

Run out of puzzles at home? In Dallas, kids can piece together virtual puzzles of the city’s top attractions and neighbourhoods.

Toronto

Get a live view from the iconic CN Tower looking either east over the city or west over the water.

Thanks to Google Street View you can tour large swaths of the Royal Ontario Museum‘s collections. Note that some of the areas most popular with little kids, like the dinosaur gallery, are not available.

Most visit’s to Toronto include a trip to nearby Niagara Falls. You don’t need to miss out on the view, thanks to a camera pointed at the stunning 170-foot Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Zoom in and pan for a closer look.

Utah

Head to Hogle Zoo Facebook page for live streams with the elephants and red pandas or tune in to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium on Facebook at 3 p.m. every day for an insider aquarium experience.

It’s Facebook field trip time – we need your help picking elephant enrichment!

Posted by Utah's Hogle Zoo on Sunday, April 5, 2020

For some at-home learning experiences, head to the Natural History Museum of Utah, The Utah State Library Division or The Utah STEM Action Center (be sure to check out the Wednesday challenge!)

Vancouver

Ever wanted to see a grizzly bear up close? Little adventure-seekers can take a peek at Grouse’s cozy Bear Den cam to catch Grinder and Coola enjoying their winter snooze. Grizzly bears don’t technically hibernate, so unlike true hibernators, they do occasionally get up, move around, and leave the den! TIP: Hit the timelapse button to see them moving about.

At the Vancouver Aquarium, kids can see what the otters, jellyfish and penguins are up to with three live webcams.

If your mini chef is tiring of all that mac’ n cheese, Glowbal Restaurant Group has rolled out a series of cooking tutorials on their Instagram stories (also saved in their highlights) called Glowbal Chef Series. This daily dose of food entertainment will be cooking up new recipes that you can easily make from the comforts of your own home. Follow along as the chefs guide you through some of their favourite dishes and give you a few tips and tricks along the way.

For a little STEM, the Science World at Home exhibit has easy, fun home activities. For updated activities, the museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages are alive with easy experiments to try at home, while their Instagram account has launched a lego building competition.

Every year, Cirque du Soleil sets up camp in Vancouver, so why should this year be any different? Families can now stream two 60-minute performances from the comfort of their living rooms.

World Heritage sites

Bookmark Google Street View to access dozens of the world’s coolest spots at street level, from Banksy murals, to Machu Picchu, to Anne Frank’s family home. You can also explore dozens of iconic vistas in US National Parks, from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon—these cams let you wander as long as you like. Other heritage sites, like the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge and Great Sphinx of Giza can be experienced through Google Earth.