With travel stalled around the world, those of us with acute wanderlust continue to look for ways to keep the rewards of globetrotting in our lives. While we wait for flights to take off again, road trips to resume, and museums to re-open their doors, virtual travel brings a little piece of the world into our homes. 

Thanks to technology, museums, national parks, and performance venues have joined the virtual travel movement. If you’re looking for entertainment beyond Netflix, these experiences will help. They’re available at your fingertips—and yes, you can wear your pajamas.

Music: The Universal Language

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow knew nothing of the COVID-19 pandemic when he said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” But those wise words ring truer than ever today. As the global community reels from this unprecedented era in history, music speaks to all of us. We watched and listened when the news showed us quarantined Italians singing from their terraces. Impromptu concerts from a member of the Chicago Symphony continue to brighten the lives of neighbors in my brother’s apartment building in Chicago. And in Riverside Park near my New York apartment, a trumpeter practices his tunes to the delight of passing walkers and joggers.

If no one is singing or entertaining in your neighborhood, tune into the Facebook and YouTube channels for the Royal Opera House in London. This iconic venue streams opera and ballet performances. Upcoming performances include Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and ballet The Metamorphosis, with more to be announced.

Although the lights of Broadway are darkened for now, favorite musicals are available online through BroadwayHD. For a monthly membership fee of $8.99, you can stream favorites at the curtain time of your choice. That’s less expensive than any Broadway ticket I’ve ever bought, and the first 7-days are free. From Kinky Boots to Swan Lake to Macbeth and even Cats, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. 

Times Square photo taken by Terri Marshall
Times Square photo taken by Terri Marshall

Explore Cultural Treasures

Partnering with Google’s Arts & Culture program, some of the world’s most treasured museums and galleries provide virtual tours. From the masterpieces of the Louvre in Paris to the inspiring architecture of the Guggenheim in New York, the world’s greatest collections are just a click away. Whether you prefer the works of Van Gough, Rembrandt, the Golden Age, or Impressionists, you’ll find something to explore.

History buffs will enjoy the Chicago History Museum. Discover the stories behind the Great Chicago Fire, the 1933 World’s Fair and even the evolution of Chicago’s culinary scene through virtual exhibits. 

Lovers of architecture can take a peek inside the renowned works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Virtual tours of 14 of his legendary properties are being offered during the COVID-19 lockdown. Among the tours are several UNESCO World Heritage sites including Fallingwater, Oak Park’s Unity Temple, and the Frederick C. Robin House in Hyde Park, Illinois.

Cooking Lessons with Personality

Native Louisianan, Maitland ‘Spuddy’ John Faucheux III elevates the cooking experience into a party with his virtual Cajun cooking experiences. From crawfish to jambalaya, Spuddy spices up the cooking experience. Follow his Facebook page for upcoming events during the COVID-19 lockdown. With all these delicious dishes, don’t be surprised if you gain your #Coronavirus15.

Cajun Cooking Experience. Photo: Terri Marshall
Cajun Cooking Experience. Photo: Terri Marshall

Opt Outside with Virtual Tours of National Parks 

If you’re craving nature beyond your backyard, connect with five of the USA’s national parks virtually. A virtual tour of Hawaii’s Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park explores the Nahuku Lava Tube formed by flowing lava. The tour also provides remarkable views from the volcanic coastal cliffs along with a virtual flight over an active volcano.

The virtual tour of Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska explores icebergs, glaciers, and fjords in the Alaskan wilderness. The tour includes a peek into Exit Glacier, one of the only accessible glaciers by road within the park. Check out the intriguing rock formations and bats of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Take in the star-filled night sky of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Swim through the third largest coral reef in the world at Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. 

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A Daily Dose of Animal Love

When spring arrives at the 219-year-old Beekman farm in Sharon Springs, New York, it brings more than flowers. It’s kidding season and baby goats are the superstars. The purveyors of goat-milk beauty products, including the famed Schitt’s Creek beauty line, have more than 100 goats. Keep an eye on the youngsters on the live webcam in the nursery. From a bouncy ball to a decal that reads “BAABY” these entertaining little ones are sure to bring a smile to your face. When things return to normal, you can meet the goats on a farm tour. 

More animal spying awaits on the Explore live cams portal. I spent hours watching elephants bathing and drinking at Tau Waterhole on the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa. Afterward, I switched to the polar bear cam in Manitoba, Canada’s Wapusk National Park where cubs were playfully wrestling. Warning: it’s addictive, you can easily spend an entire day on these incredible creatures! 

Baby Goat Courtesy of Beekman 1802
Baby Goat Courtesy of Beekman 1802

Most Important: Stay at Home

Whether you choose to pass the time exploring culture, cooking, pretending to hike, or hanging out with adorable creatures, please stay home. We all really want to resume our travel-fueled lifestyles so let’s work together to flatten the curve and get back to wandering. 

Stay at Home, Save Lives photo

Cover photo: Elephant Cam taken by Terri Marshall