Explore the World from Home
By Sydni Ellis
Every great world traveler encounters problems along the way. Lewis and Clark, Amelia Earhart, millennial travel bloggers, your boss, your next-door neighbor and pretty much everyone else who’s ever set out on an adventure, ever, has a story to tell. But the difference between an explorer and a person who just wants to get from A to B is this: he or she doesn’t let anything get in the way of seeing the world!
Right now, we all have some pretty substantial things getting in the way of our next journey. Maybe you don’t have enough money. Maybe you don’t have the physical ability. Or maybe you w still stuck at home sheltering-in-place as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic! Don’t despair: you can still appreciate beauty, culture and life outside the walls of your home by taking a virtual vacation this month. Tour a museum, visit a national park, watch a Broadway musical—all from the comfort of your own couch.
Begin by meditating on beautiful landscape scenes. Thanks to state-of-the-art cameras and interactive technology, the National Park Foundationoffers opportunities for people to visit some of its most famous locations digitally. Dive underwater at the beautiful Channel Islands National Park, located near California’s southern coast. This park preserves five different islands and their surrounding ocean environment, including unique animals, plants and archeological resources. Tune in to its live ocean webcam, streaming from the landing cove on Anacapa Island. Underwater, you can admire the diverse marine life—there are nearly one thousand different species to spot!
Another way to embrace nature is by watching the nine webcams set up at Yellowstone National Park.You can see many of the 500 active geysers in the park, watch wildlife, admire the unique landscapes and more. This iconic park was America’s first national park, and it still draws millions of visitors each year. Although we can’t hike its trails in person this month, you can still enjoy the wonder of this park through live streams. Now is your chance to see the iconic Old Faithful, soaring birds, sunny skies, snow-capped peaks and grizzly bears.
If you prefer to learn a little history while at home, take a digital tour of the Hamilton Grange National Memorial. This is the last home of founding father Alexander Hamilton located in New York. In case you haven’t seen the Tony-winning musical about him, here is a quick recap: Hamilton came to the U.S. from West Indies, where he fought in the American Revolution, co-wrote most of the Federalist Papers, became first Secretary of Treasury and organized the federal bank. In the last two years of his life, he lived in this Federal-style country home in Manhattan. The National Park Foundation and National Park Service produced a video tour of the house with singer Jordan Fisher, where you can see his private writing room, dining room and other areas. View all of these national parks, memorials, landmarks and more at prks.org/ParksAtHome.
History buffs will be happy to know that you can tour online museums while stuck at home. See exhibits from the world-famous Louvre in France, including the Egyptian antiquities from the Pharaonic period, the remains of the Louvre moat, the Advent of the Artist featuring Delacroix, Rembrandt and Tintoretto, and the iconic Mona Lisa. Visit louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne. Also, the Tate Britain in London has the largest collection of British art in the world, from 1500 to present day. Guests can virtually tour the sculptures of Henry Moore, the art of Turner and more timeless British art. See it all at tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain.
Peek in on wildlife by catching a livestream of your favorite aquarium or zoo online. The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has multiple live web cams set up. Explore the beautiful coral reef, watch glowing moon jelly fish drift gracefully through water, admire leopard sharks glide through kelp, see penguins waddle and so much more by visiting montereybayaquarium.org. Other types of animals can be viewed in their natural habitats at the San Diego Zoo in California. Giraffes, elephants, owls, koalas, apes, baboons, panda, tigers and more are all featured at sandiegozoo.org. There’s something about seeing animals wandering freely that is so relaxing!
Another way to immerse yourself in faraway place is to tune into a live webcam. The internet is full of options, from the enchanting Times Square in New York to the calming Eagle Beach in Aruba. You can also pop in on famous landmarks, from the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco to the Eiffel tower in Paris to Wrigley Field in Chicago. Tune into all of these places and more at earthcam.com. Additionally, you can see popular cities and tourist destinations in an entirely new way using Google Arts & Culture at artsandculture.google.com. Explore museums, galleries, shows, cities, space shuttles and more with their 360-degree virtual reality technology or incredible Google Street View digital experiences. You can see everything from the Taj Mahal in India to street art in Melbourne, Australia—without ever leaving the couch!
Missing the entertainment aspect of a vacation? Don’t worry, there are plenty of options for you. The Metropolitan Opera House in New York is offering daily live shows for free as part of its Live in HD series at metopera.org. Each show will be complete performances pulled from the last 14 years of productions starring the opera’s greatest singers, which will be available for 23 hours. You can also watch these on your TV by downloading the Met Opera on Demand app. Past shows have including at Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” Verdi’s “La Traviata,” and an at-home gala featuring over 40 artists performing from their homes.
Broadway fans can visit broadwayhd.com to watch many musicals recorded live throughout the years (right now they are offering a 7-day free trial, and it is $8.99/month for a subscription). Hundreds of high-quality productions are available to be streamed, including “The King and I,” “Cats,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Oklahoma!” “Sound of Music” and so many more. It’s the next best thing to sitting front-row!
Finally, there are plenty of local businesses you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home as well. Like the beautiful gardens at the Dallas Arboretum.Go to dallasarboretum.org to seeDave Forehand, VP of Gardens, take viewers on virtual tours of various blooms, showing off the gorgeous tulips, cherry blossoms, waterfalls, a koi pond, Japanese Maples and more spring nature scenes for which the Arboretum is famous. Another option is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which is currently offering an immersive digital tour of the exhibition Origins: Fossils from the Cradle of Humankind, and a series called Amaze Your Brain at Home, which explores nature and science using common things found around your home. Visit perotmuseum.org for more.
No matter which digital destination you decide on, make the most out of it by making your environment as comfortable as possible. Wear cozy clothes, munch on buttery popcorn, sip on a glass of sweet tea (or wine) and settle into the sofa. Turn on some relaxing music, dim the lights and you’re ready to go. It’ll be one of the most unique, inexpensive vacations ever!