Educational travel doesn’t always require a passport….just a strong wifi signal! A growing number of world-class attractions offer webcams, 360 degree virtual tours, online exhibits and other ways to interact remotely. So, if you are a parent who is trying to find inventive ways to home school your children, or if you are just a history buff or animal lover, here a few ideas for exploring amazing art, history and wildlife today without packing a suitcase or booking a plane ticket:
The Vatican Museum in Vatican City: It took Michelangelo 4 years to paint the Sistine Chapel, and you can enjoy it in your PJs! The Room of the Chiaroscuri, Niccoline Chapel and Raphael's Room are few of the other points of interest for the 360 virtual tours.
The Louvre and Chateau de Versailles in France: You don't have brush up on your French to glimpse the world's largest art museum. Say oui to The Louvre’s free online tours of several exhibits, including Egyptian antiquities and the remains of the Louvre’s moat. And speaking of France, visit the online exhibits for the ostentatious Palace of Versailles to see the principal royal residence of France from the 1600s until the French Revolution.
San Diego Zoo in California: Lions and tigers and bears…oh yeah! Enjoy live cam options to see Koala Cam, Tiger Cam, Panda Cam, and (my personal fave) Penguin Cam to name a few.
National Women's History Museum in Virginia: Girl power! Especially if you are the parent of little girls, these online exhibits will empower them with the “can do” stories of the most spirited ladies in history. Look for a wide spectrum of topics including Women in the Olympics, First Ladies, military heroes and Women of NASA.
Monterey Bay Aquarium in California: It isn’t Shark Week, but you can pretend like it is as you take a bite of Shark Cam. You can also tune into the Moon Jelly Cam, Coral Reef Cam, Sea Otter Cam and the Aviary Cam for bird watchers. Open Sea Cam lets you scope out sharks, fish schools and other sea life in the open water.
Done globetrotting? How about a closer look at some Lone Star State options?
International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame: Bowling…super popular sport in ancient Egypt. Wait, what? Explore an online exhibit to learn more about bowling's past, from ancient Egypt to today, plus you can celebrate the sport's heroes. Best of all, you don’t even have to rent the weird looking shoes!
River Legacy Science Center: Tune into educational videos that range in content from hands-on activities and story time to P.E. sessions and animal encounters.
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History: Science up! The museum offers a virtual program, Discovery Lab Online, on the Museum's YouTube Channel. You can expect hands-on art and science, artifact-based science and history, and live animal demonstrations.
Space Center Houston: The free interactive mobile tour blasts you off fun and educational options and brings Space Center Houston to your couch via Virtual Visits. You’ll be able to see every gallery in 360 degrees! And of course, you’ll want a souvenir. Strike a pose for a selfie filter that allows you to picture yourself as an astronaut.
The Alamo in San Antonio: Courage. Sacrifice. Valor. These are all ideals that come to mind when we reflect on the events leading up to and during the 13-day siege at the Alamo. See this sacred space for yourself here.
The LBJ Presidential Library in Austin: I have a goal of seeing all the U.S. Presidential libraries, but I have yet to see this one. I’m in luck, and so are you, because they offer online exhibits and permanent exhibits to virtual visitors about President Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, and the rocky time period in which he was elevated to Commander in Chief.