If you're stuck at home or your office desk and dream of getting away, the Internet is there for you! With modern technology you can now at least take a mental vacation and explore some beautiful places, historic locations and famous museums while staying in place.
Virtual Museum Tours
If you're an art and antiquities lover, you can visit some of the world's most exquisite and famous museums just by turning on your computer and enjoying a virtual self tour.
One of the most famous museums in the world, the Louvre, has virtual tours of several of its exhibits. You can view some incredible pieces from ancient Egypt, the painted ceilings of the Galerie d'Apollon and remains of the moat around the Louvre from its Medieval days. Flash is required to run the virtual tours on your computer.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a beloved institution in New York City with collections that span more than 5,000 years of art and design. You can take a virtual visit to learn more about some of their current exhibits, as well as permanent collections of Baroque, Renaissance and art from around the world. Current exhibits can include not only art but couture from fashion designers like Coco Chanel and Christian Dior.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
You can not only look at the modern art exhibits in this iconic New York City museum, you can also tour the unique architecture as well. The tour is made possible using Google technology to scroll and pan around the insides and outsides of the building.
The Museum of Modern Art
Known as MoMa by New Yorkers, the Museum of Modern Art has one of the greatest collections of famous works by modern artists. This includes works by Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. You can view an image of the painting or sculpture and then view the actual "street view" of the work in the museum using Google technology.
Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi
Located in Florence, Italy, the Uffizi Gallery is a favorite destination to view great works for art from the Renaissance period. There are over 150 items available on the virtual tour. You can view an image of the work with a detailed description as well as an actual view of the item on display at the museum.
The British Museum
The British Museum has an interactive exhibit online which presents a timeline starting from AD 2000 through 5000 BC along with a chart representing Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. You can click along the timeline in each continent to see works of art and antiquities and see information on each item. There's also audio you can play that describes each item in detail.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
This classic museum located in the nation's capital has a variety of exhibits covering both ancient and modern times. The virtual tours cover both permanent exhibits such as their collection of dinosaur bones and fossils as well as current rotating shows. You can also view tours of some of their popular past exhibits and a "behind the scenes" view of their research and support center.
Van Gogh Museum
Fans of the Dutch Impressionist painter will love this tour of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. By clicking on the screen you can move through the museum, starting from the outside walking in. The tour also includes information about the painter and his life and facts about some of his most famous works.
This Amsterdam-based museum is the home of famous works of art from the Dutch Golden Age. Painters such as Vermeer and Rembrant are on display virtually with information on the works and the artists. You can also view the inside of the museum, which is an impressive architectural feat in and of itself.
J. Paul Getty Museum
The Getty Center in Los Angeles is the home of works from as far back as the eight century through current day. The virtual tour allows you to view over 15,000 pieces including Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquities, illuminated manuscripts, and modern photographic works.
The National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is dedicated to the works of famous American artists since the founding of the country. The museum has video tours of current exhibitions as well as audio and video recordings available online discussing the works housed there. The museum's website also has a virtual museum app for iPad designed for children to learn more about American art, and "conversation starters and Zoom tools" to help teachers and parents create learning opportunities.
The Dalí Theatre-Museum
Famous artist Salvador Dalí's works can be found in this virtual tour. The museum is located in Catalonia, Spain and the online tour presents a view of the building "without walls" where you can click on highlighted areas throughout to view his works.
Georgia O'Keefe Museum
The website for the artist known as the "mother of American modernism" allows you to tour virtually several of the exhibits in this New Mexico museum. You can view some of her most famous works along with read detailed information on the paintings and the artist.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in South Korea
This museum includes works of art from all over the world and features many Korean artists and their work as well. It also has beautiful architecture, making the museum a piece of art on its own. You can view virtual tours of the grounds, building and exhibits on the museum's official YouTube channel.
National Museum of the United States Air Force
Located by historic Wright Field, the National Museum of the USAF has a virtual tour that allows you to visit the galleries and exhibits with guided hotspots. These hotspots provide audio, video and written resources for you to learn more about the exhibits. There's also a Cockpit 360 app available for smartphones that gives you a 360 view of the inside of many types of aircraft.
National Women's History Museum
Virtual Tours of Historic Places
The world is full of iconic historical sites, whether that's ancient castles or statues or some of the seven wonders of the world. You may never get to visit them in your lifetime, but you can still see them as if you were there.
The Sistine Chapel
The famous paintings by Michelangelo that cover the Sistine Chapel are all available online with a 360 degree viewer, including his masterpiece, "The Last Judgment." It's believed to be the largest art product ever created by a single person in history.
The Eiffel Tower
The Great Wall of China
Located near Beijing, China, the Great Wall was built over 2,000 years ago and is over 3,000 miles long. Using the virtual tour, you can "walk" along the wall, as well as read fascinating facts about the construction and history of the wall on the China Guide website.
National Air and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA has a virtual tour available of their Langley Research Center in Virginia and the Glenn Research Center in Ohio. By clicking on an interactive map, you can view tours as well as videos about the important work done on the nation's space program at these facilities.
The Vatican's virtual tours allow you to have a 360 degree view of several famous sites in this historic and significant religious structure. You can tour Raphael's rooms, the Nicoline Chapel, and the room of the Chiaroscuri. You can also tour their Pio Clementino and Chiaramonti Museums. Vatican Media Live also offers a 24/7 live webcam of the Vatican on YouTube.
There are few places in New York City more well-known than Times Square, the hustling center of activity in the "city that never sleeps." There are several live webcams that show street views and aerial views of Times Square 24 hours a day.
Learn about the days of the American Revolution by watching live webcams of Colonial Williamsburg. There's a webcam focusing on areas of the town including the Raleigh Tavern, courthouse, capitol building and Merchants Square.
Google Street View puts you right in the middle of the mysterious formation in Wiltshire, England. You can pan the camera around to get a full 360 view of this prehistoric stone monument.
Children and adults can learn more about the history of immigration in the U.S. through this virtual field trip of Ellis Island. The tour includes video and information about the historical site.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank Museum has an online 360 degree tour of the house the Frank family hid in during the Holocaust. You can also view an online exhibit on Anne's story, available in 20 languages, and a virtual reality version of their secret annex.
International Space Station
NASA's website provides a virtual tour of the international space station. There are videos featuring guided tours led by the astronauts as they navigate their way through zero gravity.
The White House
You can virtually visit the home of the U.S. president in this 360 view of The White House. Provided by Google Street View technology, you can use the camera to pan around the rooms of the White House, including areas like the library and the kitchens.
There are several virtual tour options to learn about this dark period in world history. A panoramic photo view of the site provides clickable areas to learn more about each part of the camp. The YouVisit website has several point-of-view videos featuring a drive through Auschwitz produced by BBC News. The Discover Cracow YouTube channel also has a 360 degree walkthrough movie in 4K.
The Colosseum of Rome
Using Google Street View, this photo panoramic view of the Colosseum starts with you stand right in the middle of this ancient structure. You can move the camera around and "walk" through the colosseum and wonder what it must have been like back in Roman times.
Virtual Visits to Natural Wonders
If the great outdoors is what you really crave, use your computer, tablet or smartphone to venture forth to see some of the world's most stunning landscapes and parks.
Yosemite National Park
One of the most beautiful parks in the United States, Yosemite National Park is visited by approximately four million people each year. If you can't make it in person, you can still see over 200 areas of the park, including some of the park's most incredible features like the Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. The 360 degree panoramic views online also include nature sounds to make you feel like you're almost actually there.
Yellowstone National Park
The United States' first national park, located in Wyoming, is known for its geysers, including Old Faithful. The park's website allows you to do a virtual tour of several locations in the park that you can choose from a map. This includes Mammoth Hot Springs, the Norris Geyser Basin, and the Grand Canyon area of Yellowstone.
The Great Barrier Reef
The largest coral reef system in the world can be found with Australia's Great Barrier Reef. This photo panoramic tour lets you move the camera around the ocean reefs surrounding Wilson Island.
National Marine Sanctuaries
You can do a "virtual dive" on this site featuring videos of the Channel Islands with some playful sea lions to accompany you. A narrator provides information on the creatures found in this underwater view of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. There are also photo-based 360 degree tours of other marine sanctuaries such as Tafeu Cove in American Samoa, the Florida Keys, and Monterey Bay in California.
The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma
Take a virtual field trip through a 360 degree view of Oklahoma's landscapes. You can see the prairies, plateaus, mountains and coastal plains of this beautiful state. The tour guide provides information on the flora and fauna of the area, too.
Explore.org offers live webcams of the natural world of Africa. You can view several live cams including Tembe Elephant Park in Emangusi, South Africa, a watering hole in Laikipia County in Kenya, and the gorilla forest corridor at GRACE Center in Kasugho, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
If you want a more "out of this world" tour, you can visit the surface of the planet Mars. This virtual tour is provided via NASA and Google and is based on video recorded by NASA's Curiosity rover.
Virtual Zoos and Aquariums
If you're more interested in viewing the flora and fauna of the natural world, there are many zoos and aquariums that provide virtual tours of their facilities.
The San Diego Zoo
One of the largest and most well-known zoos in the United States is the San Diego Zoo. The zoo has live web cams set up so you can watch some of their popular residents. You can watch elephants, koalas, orangutans, siamangs, baboons, condors, penguins, polar bears and tigers. You can also watch archives of their panda exhibit.
The National Aquarium
Baltimore's National Aquarium has an extensive online tour where you can go through each floor of the building to visit exhibits. You can view sharks, dolphins, and jellyfish, as well as habitats set up to emulate the Atlantic and Pacific coral reefs, the Amazon river and a tropical rainforest.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
This zoo has a daily live feed on Facebook at 3:00 pm EDT that showcases a "home safari." You will be able to view one of the zoo's animal inhabitants, and there are also accompanying activities designed for children that parents and teachers can incorporate into a school routine. The zoo posts archives on their website after the live feed is over.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
This aquarium located just off the Pacific Ocean in Monterey, California, is famous for its exhibits of aquatic creatures found in the Pacific. You can watch several live webcams featuring a coral reef, open ocean and kelp forest environment, as well as cams specific to jellyfish, penguins, sea otters, and sharks. There's also a webcam focused on their aviary and one on the Monterey Bay.
The Georgia Aquarium
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, this beautiful aquarium has several webcams featuring their aquatic residents. You can watch beluga whales, jellyfish, penguins, sea otters, piranhas, puffins, sea lions and their Ocean Voyager live cam features their largest tank with an impressive array of fish, sharks and massive whale sharks.
The National Zoo
You have the option of four live webcams of residents of the National Zoo in Washington, DC. View the lions, giant pandas, elephants or for something unusual, the naked mole-rats!
Orcas in the Wild
View these beautiful creatures live and in the wild on 24/7 webcams run by Explore.org. You can not only see them passing by the cam but also hear their whale sounds. The webcams feature several live locations on Hanson Island in British Columbia, Canada, including ones above and under the water.
In addition to daily Facebook Live events highlighting a different species of animal, the Houston view has several webcams for your viewing pleasure. You can view many of the zoo's animals including giraffes, gorillas, elephants, rhinos, chimpanzees and leafcutter ants.
If you love pandas, you'll spend all day staring at the live panda cam from Zoo Atlanta. This cam is available 24/7 and features the charming antics of these black and white bears.
Virtual Theme Parks
If you love amusement parks and themed destinations like Walt Disney World, there are plenty of online tour options for you!
Walt Disney World and Disneyland
While both locations do not have an "official" virtual tour on their websites, you can view detailed 360 degree views of both places using Google Street View. This includes famous locations like Epcot Center, Downtown Disney and Disney Springs. Fun Family Florida is a YouTube channel that has video tours of many Disney locations as well as "virtual" rides on some of their most popular rides like Big Thunder Mountain and the Expedition Everest Rollercoaster. iThemePark is another YouTube channel which has a wide array of point-of-view videos of the Disney properties and rides.
This series of 360 panoramic views of Legoland feature views of some of the park's more incredible installations. See Lego reproductions of the Tower Bridge of London, Buckingham Palace, and a NASA rocket, among many others.
Sea World, Orlando
This online tour of the amusement park and aquarium starts from high above the park and gives you a full 360 degree view. You can then choose which areas of the park to explore further, such as the penguin exhibit, rollercoaster and waterfront.
Take An Online Tour Any Time!
The beauty of online virtual tours is that you don't need to worry about packing your bags or hiring a pet sitter. You can visit many amazing historical and natural places throughout the world from your living room couch. All you need is a laptop and an Internet connection and you're off and running!