Tour Buckingham Palace, swim through the Great Barrier Reef, take in a Broadway show and so much more with the click of a mouse

By Hannah Chubb
March 20, 2020 12:11 PM

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread and “social distancing” becomes a household term, more and more Americans are halting their travel plans and staying home in an effort to flatten the curve.

For those sitting on the couch with a travel itch they can’t scratch, here’s some good news: There are tons of tourist attractions across the globe — from palaces and art museums to aquariums and zoos — that you can visit virtually, from the comfort of home for free!

Skim through the list below, broken down by category and alphabetized, and come out of isolation more worldly than ever!

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Museums

American Museum of Natural History: Explore three virtual exhibits at this New York City institution (yes, the one featured in Night At the Museum!). The exhibit “Highlights from the American Museum of Natural History,” shows off many of the museum’s most famous features.

Armory Art Center: Explore a virtual gallery tour of this Florida art center’s 2020 All Artists Show, an annual exhibition held at the institution.

The Art Institute of Chicago: A large catalog of pieces are available for virtual viewing at this world-renowned art museum, hosted by Google Arts and Culture, which has grouped the works by style of art.

The British Museum: Check out ancient mummies, the Rosetta Stone and so much more with this virtual tour of the world’s oldest national public museum.

Detroit Institute of Arts: This art museum has four different online exhibits, including two focused on feminist icon Frida Kahlo.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: Explore six virtual exhibits at this Santa Fe-based museum, which preserves Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy.

High Museum of Art: Explore four exhibits — including an awe-inspiring Civil Rights Photography show — at this Atlanta museum.

Hockey Hall of Fame: Learn about hockey’s finest players, moments and artifacts with a 3-D tour of this Toronto museum. Don’t stop until you find the Stanley Cup!

Getty Museum: Travel through two different virtual exhibits from this Los Angeles landmark with Google Arts and Culture.

The Guggenheim: The entire contemporary art collection is available for online viewing from this New York City art museum. Enjoy walking (virtually) through its famous spiraling halls!

The Louvre: Take a quick trip to Paris with virtual tours of three stunning exhibits at this world-renowned museum.

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Explore 26 online exhibits at this famous New York City icon. A 360 degree peek behind the scenes of The Costume Institute Conversation Lab (the world’s largest costume collection) is a must-see.

Michigan Science Center: Curious minds of all ages can enjoy a virtual tour of this science center, including their planetarium, health and wellness gallery, science stage and more.

MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art): Viewers can go on a virtual tour of the New York City-based museum’s exhibit of Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Embrace your artistic side with 16 virtual exhibits. Fashionistas in particular will fall head over high heels for their 21st Century Designer Fashion and 20th and 21st Century Fashion Accessories exhibits.

National Historic Museum of Chile: Learn about the history and culture of the South American country of Chile with a 360 degree tour of this Santiago museum, located in a 19th-century royal palace.

National Portrait Gallery: Take an audio-guided virtual tour through this historic art gallery with Smartify, an app that has partnered with many museums worldwide. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Smartify has made all of their museum audio tours free to the public, including the Louvre, the Met and the Royal Academy.

Smithsonian: Explore a self-guided tour of the D.C. museum’s National Museum of Natural History.

Van Gogh Museum: The largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh pieces is located at this museum in Amsterdam, and you can explore it with a 360 degree virtual tour. Don’t forget to stop and smell the “Sunflowers!”

The Vatican Museum: Explore the New Wing, Sistine Chapel and more with 360 degree virtual tours.

Animals, Aquariums, Zoos and Gardens

Atlanta Zoo: This Georgia institution has a dedicated panda cam sure to put a smile on kids’ — and grown-ups’ — faces.

Cincinnati Zoo: Every day, this zoo is hosting “Home Safari Facebook Lives” showcasing one of their animals and offering a fun, educational activity you can do at home. Pull up the zoo’s Facebook page every day at 3 p.m. EST. All of the safaris will also be posted to the zoo’s website and on their YouTube page for later viewing.

Daniel Botelho IGTV: See what it’s like going no-cage diving with a school of Great White Sharks on this National Geographic wildlife photographer’s IGTV channel.

Georgia Aquarium: Have a soothing look under the sea with live cams of beluga whales, African penguins, jellyfish and more.

Georgia Aquarium

Houston Zoo: This Texas zoo has webcams focused on gorillas, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, leafcutter ants and more for your viewing pleasure.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center: While the Florida marine center is closed to the public, they’re continuing to take care of their sea turtle patients behind the scenes. Monday through Friday they will be streaming live from the sea turtle hospital and teaching viewers about ocean conservation.

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Dive under water with livestreams of sharks, sea otters, jellyfish, and turtles. A live cam of the crashing waves in the Monterey Bay itself is particularly calming.

National Aquarium: Explore winding, sea life-filled floors with this virtual tour of the Baltimore-based aquarium.

New England Aquarium: This Boston-based aquarium is serving up a schedule of animal feedings, tours and behind-the-scenes content on their Facebook Live.

Ocean Ramsey IGTV: Often described as a “sharfluencer,” this diving expert swam with one of the largest Great Whites ever recorded. Now, she’s sharing her adventures on her IGTV channel.

Oregon Zoo: This zoo is sharing daily video updates on their Facebook page of different animals during their temporary closure.

Paul Nicklen IGTV: Got heart eyes for humpbacks? This wildlife photographer and National Geographic contributor is taking to his IGTV channel to stream all the whale content you could dream of.

San Diego Zoo: This zoo has a number of different live cams monitoring their furry and feathered friends, including penguins, pandas, koalas and elephants.

Volunteer Park Conservatory: This Seattle greenhouse is taking to Instagram to livestream their lush gardens in the midst of their closure to the public. Though the streaming schedule depends on their gardeners, they plan to livestream seven days a week around 2pm.

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International Landmarks

Buckingham Palace, England: Flights to the U.K. may be canceled, but you can still visit Buckingham Palace thanks to the official Royal website, which offers a virtual tour of the Queen’s official residence.

Doge’s Palace, Italy: Google Arts and Culture offers a virtual tour of one of Venice’s most iconic landmarks — a 14th century palace — complete with views of the canals that surround it.

Easter Island: Explore this Chilean territory — chock full of artistic and architectural treasures — with Chile 360, a free app that can be used on your phone or paired with VR glasses.

Galapagos Islands: Embark on a guided video tour of the incredible wildlife and culture of the Galapagos with National Geographic Expeditions.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Swim through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with the help of several David Attenborough-narrated videos and an educational, interactive map.

Great Wall of China: Take a virtual tour of one of the Seven Wonders of the World with The China Guide and explore its most visited sections.

Guang Niu/Getty Images

Hang Son Doong, Vietnam: Take a 360 degree adventure through the world’s largest cave, located in Vietnam, with National Geographic.

Johnson Space Center, USA: Boeing and Discovery Education take viewers on a virtual field trip through this innovative, Houston-based space center.

National Parks, USA: 113 virtual tours of National Park Service locations are available on Google Arts and Culture. Some favorites include Yellowstone National Park (for miles and miles of beautiful views), Kenai Fjords National Park (for an icy adventure) and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (for lots of lava).

NYC Street Art Murals, USA: Explore nine of the most vibrant and unique street art murals across New York City — from Banksy to Keith Haring — with this virtual tour.

Tower Bridge, England: This famous London bridge isn’t going down anytime soon — and you can explore it virtually (by boat!).

White House, USA: No need to look your best for this trip to the White House in Washington, D.C.! Google Arts and Culture has virtual tours of several of the presidential spaces.

The Gardens of Versailles, France: Choose your own adventure and virtually explore the famously over-the-top royal gardens of King Louis XIV.

Theater, Film, Symphonies and Operas

Ann Arbor Film Festival: This popular Michigan film festival is going virtual this year, livestreaming both films and discussions for free from March 24-29. Check out the schedule here.

BroadwayHD: This site has streamed favorite Broadway shows — like Cats, Kinky Boots and Phantom of the Opera — straight from New York and London for years, but they’re currently offering a one week free trial before their $8.99 monthly subscription fee kicks in.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: This New York-based chamber music ensemble is currently streaming several recorded performances.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: This Australian symphony is livestreaming their performances on Youtube while they are closed to the public through April 13. The shows will then be saved to the Youtube channel for later viewing.

Metropolitan Opera: Every night at 7:30 EST, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera will be streaming a Live in HD viewing of an opera performance, which will then be viewable for 20 hours.

Linda Vartoogian/Getty

OperaVision: This website offers free streaming of a number of recorded opera performances from famous opera houses across Europe and beyond, including the Royal Swedish Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and National Theatre Prague.

Philadelphia Orchestra: Conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, this orchestra will be livestreaming performances on their Facebook page, which will then save for later viewing.

The Philharmonie Berlin: With plans to be closed until April 19, this symphony opened its library of digital performances to the public. More than 600 shows will be available for free for 30 days if you use the code BERLINPHIL by March 31.

The Rossini Opera Festival: This yearly festival, based in Pesaro, Italy, celebrates opera composer Gioachino Rossini, who called Pesaro home. They are currently streaming one previously-recorded opera a day for free.

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