One of the most difficult parts of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, for both kids and adults alike, is not being able to travel and explore the world around you. Many of us have been stuck at home for months on end and may be going a bit stir-crazy, especially now that the winter months are here and the ability to enjoy even just the outdoors is more limited.
While it may not involve packing a suitcase or hopping on a plane, traveling to some of the most amazing places around the world is still possible. How? Through virtual field trips! Many organizations and institutions around the world have taken on this unprecedented situation by setting up live cams to stream a wide variety of land and aquatic animals, show famous works of art and other museum favorites, help us learn and see amazing things in space, and so much more!
This list of free virtual field trips covers a wide variety of places that people can visit virtually, including museums, zoos, aquariums, farms, national parks, historical sites and landmarks, and even other planets. There are virtual field trips for kids, teachers, families, and anyone looking to learn something new. You’re one click away from traveling the world, so sit back and enjoy the views of some of the best virtual field trips on the Internet!
You may be stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy the amazing works of art that some of the most famous museums in the world have on exhibit. Many of these virtual museum tours for kids are almost as good as the real thing, as they offer 360-degree views in locations throughout the museums, and the best part is that there are no crowds blocking your view!
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: The #MetKids program offers children the chance to explore the museum through an illustrated map that includes hidden treasures that can be found throughout the museum’s collection of art.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Take a virtual tour of the art museum that is a work of art itself. Located in New York City, the Guggenheim is known for its six floors of incredible architecture along with its amazing collection of art. You can even project the pieces of art into your own room with the mobile app.
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: With every exhibition in the museum offered in a 360-degree virtual format, there’s plenty of natural history to explore.
- Musée du Louvre: These online tours, organized by subject, allow you to get a closer look at some of the most famous pieces of art and the amazing architecture in this world-famous museum.
- Frida Kahlo Museum: With its 360-degree views, you can explore every corner of Frida Kahlo’s home and her artwork throughout the brightly colored “Casa Azul” (Blue House).
- The National Gallery of Art: These children’s video tours allow kids to learn more about the background and composition of 50 select pieces of art.
- National Constitution Center: This virtual museum experience allows you to explore both present and past exhibitions on topics like Alexander Hamilton and the constitutional conflicts of the Civil War.
- Museum of Science: The whole family can learn more about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through #MOSatHome’s fun livestreamed presentations.
- The Vatican Museum: Have you always wondered what the inside of the Vatican looks like? Find out with these 360-degree virtual tours of nine different rooms at the Vatican, include the Sistine Chapel.
- National Baseball Hall of Fame: Fans of all ages will appreciate this Safe at Home virtual content that allows them to learn baseball’s history and explore the museum from afar. You can register for one of their free virtual field trips through their website.
- The National Museum of Computing: Explore the world's largest collection of working historic computers through 3D and virtual curated tours. This online experience strives to be interactive, educational, and engaging for the whole family.
- Boston Children’s Museum: Your children can go on a virtual “walking” tour of all three floors of the museum to see all of their fun exhibits here.
- Google Arts & Culture: This compendium of virtual art galleries, artful activities, and fun with augmented reality is as much a field trip as it is an art class. Children and adults alike will have fun using their imagination to give famous works of art and landmarks their own creative spin and taking a tour of some of the most well-known pieces of art in the world.
Quite a few zoos around the United States have chosen to set up live camera feeds of their animal enclosures so that people from around the world can tune in at any time to see what these amazing animals are up to and how they like to spend their day. There is so much that can be learned just from watching how animals interact with each other, people, and their surroundings! Which animal cam are you most excited to watch?
- San Diego Zoo: Through their live cams you can see what various animals at the zoo are up to at any time of day. This zoo offers an ape cam, elephant cam, hippo cam, koala cam, tiger cam, and a variety of other animal live cams.
- Animal Adventure Park: The zoo’s resident giraffe, April, became famous when her pregnancy and birth were livestreamed and tens of thousands of people around the world tuned in to watch. The zoo now offers a daily livestream of April with her newest calf as well as other giraffes at the zoo.
- Atlanta Zoo: Here, you can access the zoo’s live Panda Cam 24/7 to watch the daily goings-on in the panda enclosure.
- Bronx Zoo: The best of the Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, the Queens Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo, and the New York Aquarium can be found through this Virtual Zoo, which can be accessed daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time.
- Houston Zoo: Through their selection of live cams, you can watch a variety of animals, from big ones like elephants roaming their habitat to tiny ones like leafcutter ants busily working. You can even watch the zookeepers feed the giraffes via the feeding platform cam!
- Reid Park Zoo: The Reid Park Zoo is another that has daily live animal cams set up on select enclosures. They, too, have elephant and giraffe cams, but you’re also able to watch the grizzly bears in their enclosure as well as lions and lemurs.
- Smithsonian National Zoo: Visit a handful of the National Zoo’s animals, such as cheetah cubs, lions, giant pandas, elephants, and naked mole rats via their live animal webcams. Their website includes a variety of educational activities, classes, and webinars that can be done at home.
- Wapusk National Park Polar Bears: These polar bear cams are streaming live 24/7 from the Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada, which is home to one of the largest concentrations of polar bear maternity dens in the world.
How does an aquarium virtual field trip sound? Zoos aren’t the only ones livestreaming their animals for the world to see; many aquariums have also set up live cams in some of their most popular aquatic displays to show off their underwater worlds in a new way.
- The National Aquarium: Take a “self-guided” virtual tour of the National Aquarium as you explore a variety of aquatic animals and habitats.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium: This aquarium offers a variety of live cams; watch the daily goings-on of a variety of animals through their coral reef cam, aviary cam, sea otter cam, shark cam, and more!
- Seattle Aquarium: This aquarium offers a 30-minute-long virtual field trip on their YouTube page, some of which is led by an underwater diver at the aquarium.
- Maritime Aquarium: This aquarium is offering 60-minute livestreamed virtual programs of some of their most popular educational programs each week. All of the programs require registration through their website, and some of the programs are offered entirely in Spanish.
- Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager: Here, you can access a live cam at the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager gallery, which is home to sharks, manta rays, and thousands of other fish. You can also check other webcams to see their beluga whales, piranhas, sea lions, penguins, and more.
- Shedd Aquarium: Discover some truly remarkable and beautiful fish with their Underwater Beauty live cam. The Shedd Aquarium also offers a Virtual Reality Expedition where you can swim with sharks!
- SeaWorld: The SeaWorld@Home program is full of aquatic fun for the whole family, including animal coloring books and crafts, first-person videos of their most popular rides, and live cams for a variety of animal habitats.
Fun on the farm can be had virtually, too! These online field trips to farms around the country will give students a firsthand look at how a variety of different modern-day farms operate and how food gets to the grocery store, and some even encourage them to get into gardening.
- American Egg Board: The AEB partnered with Discovery Education to bring Virtual Egg Farm Field Trips into the classroom for students to explore and learn about egg farms. They offer field trips designed for students in K-5 and 6-8 or anyone who is interested in learning more about how egg farms operate.
- Bonnie Plants: These multi-part virtual field trips to Bonnie Plants, along with a variety of kids’ workshops, are being offered by Home Depot in the hopes of getting more kids interested in gardening.
- Bright Farms: This virtual field trip is great for any students, teachers, or parents who are looking to learn more about indoor farming and the process of how food gets from the farm to the grocery store.
- Farm Food 360: With 11 different farms to choose from, there’s plenty to see and learn about in this collection of virtual tours. Sit back and watch how things are run on animal farms from beef to chicken to pig, how a grain farm or feed mill operates, and even behind the scenes at an apple orchard.
Ignite students’ love of space through these virtual field trips that explore nearby planets, the moon, and even life aboard the International Space Station.
- Mars: Kids and adults alike will be wowed as they explore the surface of Mars with this 360-degree experience recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover.
- Tour of the Moon: NASA also created a virtual tour of the moon, which visits a number of sites that were chosen to show off different lunar terrain features. This virtual tour was filmed in 2011 by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and has been re-created in 4K resolution for a truly amazing visual experience.
- International Space Station: Discover what life is really like living in space on these International Space Station tours, another great virtual field trip option brought to you by NASA. The European Space Agency also offers a narrated 3D tour of the ISS.
- Johnson Space Center: Boeing and Discover Education teamed up to offer this exclusive virtual field trip that goes behind the scenes at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
- Stellarium Web: Learn about stars near and far with this mobile app that allows you to explore thousands of stars, find planets, and watch natural wonders like a solar eclipse. Using your location, it can even show the constellations in the night sky above you.
- Slime in Space: Kids are sure to enjoy this virtual field trip to the space station to see how slime reacts to being in space. The astronauts even play a game of slime ping-pong!
Historical Sites and Landmarks
History is fun with these virtual field trips to some of the most famous landmarks and historical sites across the world. You’ll have the chance to take a virtual walk through iconic buildings you otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to see and get up close and personal with past presidents.
- Buckingham Palace: These virtual tours allow you to explore the history of the most iconic rooms in Buckingham Palace, including the White Drawing Room, the Blue Drawing Room, the Throne Room, and even the Grand Staircase.
- Ellis Island: Take a virtual field trip to Ellis Island to see one of the most recognized symbols of hope, the Statute of Liberty, through the eyes of the many immigrants who arrived here between 1892 and 1954.
- Mount Rushmore: Get up close and personal with the four American presidents who are carved into Mount Rushmore with this virtual tour that offers 360-degree views from various viewpoints around the landmark, including one that puts you directly underneath Teddy Roosevelt’s chin.
- Mount Vernon: With just a few clicks, you’ll be able to explore the home of the first president of the United States. George Washington lived in the home his father built for 45 years, both before and briefly after his presidency.
- Plimoth Plantation: These virtual field trip videos are great for students of all ages and show what life was like for both Pilgrims and indigenous people. You can also explore a replica of the Mayflower, which carried the Pilgrims on their voyage across the ocean.
- The White House: Explore various rooms of the White House at your leisure while former President Obama narrates a virtual tour of “The People’s House.”
- Ancient Egypt: Discover the history of ancient Egypt through a 3D temple reconstruction. Explore pyramids and temples, hear stories of the pharaohs of Egypt, and learn about mummification here.
- The Great Wall of China: Take a virtual tour of one of the wonders of the world and explore the more than 3,000 miles through northern China that make up the Great Wall of China.
- Easter Island: Explore the sights and sounds of the island that these mysterious megaliths are located on, learn about the first inhabitants, and see how people were able to move these stone giants.
- HistoryView Virtual Tours: Bring historical sites and museums from around the world right to your home with this HistoryView VR collection of virtual field trips. A VR headset is not required to use this program; it will also work on a tablet or Chromebook.
Parks and Nature
Parks containing natural wonders like volcanoes and caves may be closed to visitors, but in the virtual world, they’re always ready for visitors. Check out this list of interactive virtual field trips to some of nature’s most amazing sights.
- Hang Son Doong: Visit the world’s largest cave, located in Vietnam, through this 360-degree virtual tour offered by National Geographic. This tour becomes even more immersive as it includes the sounds you would hear if you were actually there.
- Volcano Hazards: Click on and learn about any of the 169 potentially active volcanoes through this interactive map brought to you by the USGS Volcano Hazards Program.
- Nature Lab: Offered by the Nature Conservancy, this program was researched and designed for a young audience and classroom use. Their program has content geared toward those from ages 5 to 18 and has ten virtual field trips to choose from.
- Yellowstone National Park: You’ll get the chance to tour the main attractions in America’s oldest national park on this virtual field trip. You’ll get the chance to virtually explore sites like the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Mud Volcano. The Old Faithful live cam is always a fun part of the park to view.
- The Great Lakes: Choose from three different virtual field trips to learn more about the lakes’ coastal wetlands, algae that grows in them, and the oldest and largest residents of the Great Lakes region, the lake sturgeon.
While these virtual tours didn’t fit in one of the previous categories, they’re too interesting not to share! From music to history to even seeing how candy is made, there’s something for everyone here.
- Discovery Education: These virtual field trips are a great way for educators to share incredible experiences and places with students, from learning more about the history of the White House to a behind-the-scenes look at the Tech for Global Good event and even a Body Positivity virtual field trip.
- 360 Cities: As the world’s largest collection of stock 360-degree images and videos, created by a worldwide community of expert VR photographers, 360 Cities can take you on a virtual field trip to every corner of the world and everywhere in between.
- M&Ms Factory Tour: Kids will love watching how one of their favorite candies is made with this virtual tour of the M&M factory, hosted by the Food Network.
- Recycling Simplified: These virtual field trips are a great way to teach students about the importance of recycling by seeing how a recycling center and a modern landfill operate. There are lessons designed for students from third through 12th grades.
- Turn Back the Clock: Originally a museum display at Chicago’s Museum of Science, Turn Back the Clock is now for anyone across the world to explore. This virtual tour will take you through the past seven decades to the dawn of the nuclear age.
Tips to Turn Virtual Into Reality (At least a little bit!)
Create a fun environment at home. You may be taking a virtual trip to the Aquarium, but you can bring your home to life and have fun with your kids at the same time! You could have an arts and crafts session with them and create fish or other sea animals to stick on the wall behind your computer.
Dress like you're going. Get yourself and your kid out of pajamas and into something like you’re going into the real world! It will make it more fun and realistic if you get dressed up to go outside. If you want a new outfit, lots of stores have cheap and fun clothes. On that note, you can subscribe to The Children's Place email newsletter to instantly get a Children's Place coupon for $10 off your purchase. Whether it's new, borrowed or something you have, your kid will enjoy the experience of getting ready to go!
Take the virtual bus. Now that you're dressed for the occasion, it's time to virtually get there. Prior to the virtual tour or field trip, set up a Zoom call with some of your kids with his or her friends. Talk about what they're going to see for a few minutes and build up the excitement, just like you're taking the bus there!
More Activities for Kids and Adults on a Budget
We hope you enjoyed our list of free virtual tours and experiences around the web! We figured we’d also mention that there’s also plenty of other cheap and fun activities to do. While Groupon is primarily for discount in-person experiences, they also now have many virtual offerings at great prices. You can find various virtual activities at steep discounts (example below).
These include live online Escape Rooms, virtual paint nights or painting lessons, virtual private music lessons (like piano, guitar and more), virtual cooking classes, virtual game nights, and many other activities that have become more common due to the pandemic. You can often score anywhere from 15% off up to an extra 50% off when using a Groupon promo code while checking out.
As Idowu Koyenikan once said, “The mind is just like a muscle — the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.” Keep working that muscle through learning about the world around you and through activities that are meant to stimulate the brain. What part of the world will you choose to learn about first?