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Travel may be out of the question right now, but companies have found a way to bring people together through digital methods. The emerging trend of virtual travel — through webinars, Zoom calls and webcams — have given people many new ways to be an armchair traveler.
From digital tours of the Vatican to virtual strolls on pristine Florida beaches, these are some of the best interactive content opportunities offered by suppliers and other companies right now.
Virtual Tours of Destinations and Landmarks- The Tour Guy has partnered with live video platform, BigMarker, to create virtual tours at a low cost. Tour iconic sites such as the Colosseum in Rome and the Louvre in Paris, as well as cities such as Florence, Italy, in an hourlong interactive immersion. Games, polls and live Q&As round out the experience. All earnings will go to The Tour Guy’s employees who are unable to work at this time.
- The China Guide is offering a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China on its website complete with facts about the historical site, maps showing its most visited sections and other travel tips. While on the tour, you’ll be able to move around the wall and view key spots with breathtaking views of surrounding scenery.
- Some destinations, such as Buckingham Palace in London, even provide virtual tours on their own websites. Get a 360-degree view by clicking and moving yourself around rooms in Queen Elizabeth II’s palace, from the White Drawing Room to the Throne Room.
- Since suntanning on a crowded beach isn’t permitted, Visit Florida has put together a Florida Beach Finder interactive experience where users can enjoy 360-degree images of 825 miles of Florida’s beaches. Pick your preference of beach — options range from adventurous or family friendly to laid-back or romantic. Users can even use Google’s Street View function to “walk and explore” the beaches themselves.
- Various botanical gardens are offering their beauty to those at home. The United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., is offering a virtual tour of its gardens that changes constantly; no two virtual visits are the same.
Cruises at Home- Crystal Cruises has launched a virtual cruise experience they call [email protected] The line is offering a weekly series of live streaming events, as well as a weekly “virtual voyage” that includes interactive cruise ship destination highlights; live cooking demos hosted by a Crystal chef; home workouts from Crystal’s fitness instructors; and more.
- Lindblad Expeditions now has a dedicated section of its website devoted to a new Virtual Expedition option featuring weekday programming with live concerts and daily activities, such as snorkeling with seahorses in the Galapagos Islands. The company invites travelers to submit photos each week with a different theme.
Best Animal Cams - Several animal and wildlife streaming services are offering live-streamed footage of some of the cutest animals around the world in zoos, shelters and in the wild. Stream footage of South African animals on Africam (Kwa Maritane) and Explore.org (Tembe Elephant Park, Nkorho Bush Lodge), and join interactive virtual safaris on WildEarth TV during every sunrise and sunset.
- Zoos around the country, including the San Diego Zoo, National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in Ohio, all feature live webcam footage. The Cincinnati Zoo is hosting a Facebook livestream every day at 3 p.m. ET, showing a different animal in its exhibit and an activity for kids.
Food and Drink- Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs is offering virtual distillery tours and whiskey flight tastings with a lineup that will include daily cocktails posted on its social media at 2 p.m. MT, as well as virtual happy hours at 5 p.m. where musicians and Distillery 281 staff will join. The distillery is encouraging anyone making cocktails at home to join in the fun and post photos of “quarantinis” with the hashtag #219family.
- Aqua Expeditions launched an online masterchef class on its Facebook and Instagram featuring a slew of its consulting chefs. Future classes include chef Benjamin Cross, consulting chef of Aqua Blu, and chef David Thompson of Aqua Mekong.
For Kids- Austin Adventures has created “Virtual Adventures for Kids” aimed at children 6-12, but parents are encouraged to join as well. The webinars will feature a different destination with an educational component each week, and lessons will last for 30 minutes up to an hour on Zoom. Its first webinar of Yellowstone National Park was a huge success and included videos of Old Faithful, descriptions of the park’s wildlife and a Q&A session. Future webinars include Alaska, Zoo Montana and Costa Rica.
- The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is offering DIY science demos, weekly virtual exhibit tours and aquarium programs through Facebook and its website. Weekly programming includes live marine biology lessons and “Future Scientist Storytime.”
Museums and Music - For anyone with a Wi-Fi connection, Google Arts and Culture offers free online virtual tours of more than 2,000 museums around the world including the British Museum in London, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and The Guggenheim in New York City.
- To have a taste of opera at home, The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is hosting live streams of nightly encore performances that go live at 7:30 p.m. EST and are available 20 hours after being posted. The Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin is also offering free access to its Digital Concert Hall.
- The late Claude Monet is inviting guests to his home and gardens in Giverny, France, by way of a virtual tour. Marvel at his gorgeous taste in decor and interior design thanks to Fondation Claude Monet Giverny.
Health and Wellness- Take a virtual bike ride on the Lake Trail in Palm Beach complete with palm trees and fresh ocean breezes, or join virtual yoga classes from home with Hilton West Palm Beach all throughout the month of April.
- Join a series of virtual dives through the National Marine Sanctuaries and “dive” at key locations such as the American Samoa.
- For some relaxation and rejuvenation, Civana Wellness Resort & Spa in Carefree, Ariz., has curated a "Wellness at Home" blog with at-home workouts and stress management tools designed to help ease the mind and keep folks active while at home.
Coming Together Tourism boards and hotels have come together in this time to curate positive and interactive experiences to support armchair travelers.
- Switzerland Tourism is promoting at-home Swiss entertainment including classic recipes; links to finding Swiss products in the U.S. and Canada; and interactive tours of breathtaking landscapes and destinations.
- Localing Private Tours has launched a new website devoted to virtual experiences that showcase the many treasures of Melbourne and Victoria.
- Tourism Fij is bringing the islands to your living room with a variety of experiences, from relaxing in your own private cabana to taking a 360-degree tour of Fijian resorts. End the day by catching a live feed of a Fijian sunset. You can even virtually zipline in Fiji’s tropical rainforests.
Read more from TravelAge West about the COVID-19 outbreak.