As people around the country and the world are staying in to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we determined to aggregate a list of virtual travel opportunities that people of all ages can enjoy. And even when it’s safe to hit the road and take to the skies again, we hope these 38 virtual tours and webcams worth watching will prove fun and educational during downtime -- and for folks who are unable to travel far but can still enjoy a virtual window on the world.
We’ve arranged these virtual tours by interest. Do you want to go to the beach? Observe wildlife? Tour a museum? These tours provide those opportunities and more. Here’s to letting technology help us span the distance! Enjoy!
Note: The instructions for interacting with these tours and cams are written for computer users. Your experience on a tablet or mobile device may vary.
Reach The Beach
1. If you could really use some sand and sun in your life right now, queue your favorite poolside tunes and head over to the Marriott Bonvoy’s live Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa webcam, our favorite of a handful of Hawaiian webcam recommendations from Chris Norberg of Hawaii Web Group. You can take a turn controlling which of a number of views by clicking the directional icon in the bottom righthand corner of the video and, when it’s your turn, selecting from the dropdown menu that will appear in the upper righthand corner of the video. My favorite view is of the Sheraton Maui Beach. It’s hard to get enough of those lapping waves and palm trees. I can almost smell the sunscreen and salty air!
2. Even further flung, for the TravelAwaits team, at least, are the beaches of Phuket, Thailand. Imagine dining on the pier, digging your toes into the sand, and settling into a posh room with a view of the bay with this intuitive (and extensive) tour of Amari Phuket. You can even check out restaurants, the pool, and, if you’re so inclined, the suites’ bathrooms! I’m officially obsessed!
3. Lauren Wire, an account supervisor at Finn Partners who works closely with the New York State Division of Tourism suggested a number of virtual tours and live webcam experiences. First up: the Baby Goat Cam (scroll down the page to see it) at Beekman 1802, a goat milk farm and mercantile in Sharon Springs, New York (about an hour west of Albany). When it’s safe to travel, you can tour the farm and the gorgeous mansion -- completed in 1802 -- that William Beekman built for his wife and their 10 children. For now, though, Lauren says the goats behind Beekman’s products (which you can order online) “are guaranteed to spark joy for many.” The cam runs 24/7 so you can get your baby goat fix day or night.
4. Lena Young with Turner PR told us, “I was supposed to travel to Nebraska this week to experience the crane migration firsthand!” and recommends the Rowe Sanctuary’s Live Crane Cam, which streams from Gibbon, Nebraska. This is one of the few live cams on our list that picks up sound, which is pretty soothing, and you might get to see some of the sandhill cranes in migration. Then learn more about the sandhill crane migration by reading firsthand accounts from photographer Brad Crooks and our Midwest travel writer Tim Trudell.
5. Want to see some gators? Barbara Golden of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau told us that the St. Augustine Alligator Farm has “made their webcam of the Alligator Lagoon and Roseate Spoonbill nesting area available so that those staying home can enjoy.” Like the Rowe Sanctuary Crane Cam, The Alligator Swamp and Spoonbills Live Cam picks up sound, and the warbling and buzzing of the animals that live within its range are something to hear!
Barbara said, “The alligators are generally very active in the morning and evening. On the webcam, you can hear the birds as they are building their nests. The team at the Alligator Farm occasionally moves the camera to focus on action between the gators and the roosting birds. This site will become even more active in the coming days. Here is why: 1. It is alligator mating season -- there will be action! 2. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is a natural bird rookery. The lagoon is home to more than 100 alligators and provides a safe place for Florida’s wading birds to nest in the trees above. Roseate spoonbills, wood storks, herons, and egrets come to nest here because natural predators -- snakes, raccoons, opossum, et cetera -- cannot get to the nest with eggs. The Alligator Farm rookery will be filled with thousands of nests over the next few weeks.” So be on the lookout!
6. Lauren also recommends you “visit” The Wild Center, formerly known as the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. It’s located in Tupper Lake, New York, which is just two hours south of the U.S.-Canada border. If you’ve never visited the Adirondacks, start with the Wild Center’s Wild Walk. You’ll get to see the center’s hanging bridges, look at some preserved birds’ nests, and appreciate all the lovely trees.
7. Next, tour the inside of the museum at 45 Museum Drive. We love how trees have been used to bring the outdoors into this beautiful space.
8. Feeling tense? Let your stress melt away as you meditate on the graceful ballet of the jellies you can watch via Georgia Aquarium’s Live Jelly Webcam. You can actually control the orientation of the camera, which faces three different jelly habitats, by clicking the directional icon in the bottom righthand corner of the video and waiting your turn in the queue. Currently, you can watch Jelly Alley, Wavy Way, and Jelly Jam (select from the dropdown menu that will pop up in the upper righthand corner of the video when it’s your turn). Each view shows a distinct species of jelly. Then, read up on how to swim with thousands of golden jellyfish in Palau, Micronesia!
9. Those who’d rather be whale watching can visit Georgia Aquarium’s belugas via the Live Beluga Whale Webcam.
11. Georgia Aquarium’s Piranha Cam shows a tank some folks (myself included) would rather view from a distance! If you’re in the mood to see some real piranhas from the comfort of home, get your fix.
12. What’s cuter than piranhas? Almost everything, in my opinion, but definitely sea lions. As with the Jelly Webcam (mentioned above) you can take a turn controlling the orientation of Georgia Aquarium’s California Sea Lion Cam by clicking the directional icon in the bottom righthand corner of the video and waiting your turn in the queue.
13. Georgia Aquarium lets you watch its southern sea otters via the interactive Sea Otter Webcam. Again, you can take a turn controlling the orientation of the camera by clicking the directional icon in the bottom righthand corner of the video and waiting your turn in the queue. When you’ve had your fill of watching the pups and their raft (yes, that’s the official term for a group of sea otters), read up on these six great places to see sea otters in the wild for more inspiration!
14. They don’t live in the ocean, but they do swim in it! Watch the Georgia Aquarium’s puffins paddle and dive in their icy waters via the Live Puffin Cam.
15. Finally, Georgia Aquarium’s Live Ocean Voyager Cam is definitely a step up from your school of fish screensaver!
16. Google Arts and Culture hosts an amazing collection of narrated, ranger-guided national park virtual tours. Make sure your volume is turned up when you open any one of the tours. I suggest watching the stirring introductory video (click “Start exploring” to play), then heading to Kenai Fjords in Alaska, where you can climb down into an ice crevasse and look around, witness glacial melt, kayak through the icebergs, see one calve, and even watch a humpback whale breech.
17. Next up: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawai’i. The virtual tour takes visitors through the rainforest and lava tubes and introduces them to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire.
18. In Carlsbad Caverns National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains in southern New Mexico, you’ll witness cave swallows, bats, prickly pear cacti, and the Big Room, the largest single cave chamber in North America, with its beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.
19. Further north, in Utah, see the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Enjoy the rock formations and the night sky in a tour that begins at sunset. If you want more, read up on 10 things to know about Bryce Canyon outlined in an article by our Southwest writer Emese Fromm.
20. For some sunshine, visit Dry Tortugas National Park, over 90 percent of which is beneath the crystal clear waters. You can swim through a coral reef and a shipwreck, then explore Fort Jefferson.
21. It’s not part of Google Arts and Culture’s national parks initiative, but Virtual Yosemite is one of Visit California’s top recommendations. Drag to enjoy 360-degree views of the California national park. Click the red targets or go to the Panorama Index to navigate from vista to vista. This isn’t a live cam, but it does include sounds captured at the various sites, so turn your volume up for the full experience.
22. Lauren told us you can visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, thanks to Google Arts and Culture. While the tour looks like a camera roll when you open it, drag for a 360-degree view and click the Xs to move from place to place before moving to the next room by clicking the thumbnail images at the bottom of the screen. Then, if you want even more baseball sites, read up on visiting the Field of Dreams in Iowa.
23. “Get fired up with the Corning Museum of Glass virtual tour,” Lauren suggested. “There are 35 centuries of glass art from contemporary to ancient and a glass innovation center where world-changing inventors changed the world of glass.” The museum is in Corning, one of the towns in New York’s Finger Lakes region. This is another tour hosted by Google Arts and Culture, so while the tour looks like a camera roll when you open it, you can drag for a 360-degree view and click the Xs to move from place to place before moving to the next room by clicking the thumbnail images at the bottom of the screen.
24. “Visit” the Magazzino Italian Art Foundation in Cold Spring, New York, (in the Catskills) to see some striking art curated in a bright space. Lauren said, “This ongoing exhibition presents a comprehensive panorama on the artistic practice of 12 artists associated with the Arte Povera movement. This exhibition represents the Olnick Spanu Collection’s core of post-war Italian art, allowing the space to be an environment solely devoted to this generation of Italian artists. Start here and move through the exhibits by clicking on either of the pictures, then scrolling through the images of the collections using the left- and right-oriented arrows. Note that this is not a 360-degree tour.
25. Andrew Cothern, Communications Manager with the Virginia Tourism Corporation pointed us toward a few virtual tours of popular Virginia destinations. First up: Google Arts and Culture lets you visit the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk Virginia. While the tour looks like a camera roll when you open it, you can drag for a 360-degree view and click the Xs to move from place to place before moving to the next room by clicking the thumbnail images at the bottom of the screen.
26. Nikki Riedmiller of Kahn Media told us the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which underwent a $90 million renovation in 2015, will be live streaming tours of The Vault. This is your chance to see an impressive array of vehicles in a streamlined space. Book your virtual tour in advance. Note that times are in PST and that a donation is suggested.
27. Saurabh Jindal, creator of the Talk Travel app, lives in Paris and recommends the virtual tours of the Louvre. “Currently the museum provides virtual tours of three galleries -- including the Egyptian Gallery,” he told us, “with detailed information about the artifacts present there. The 360-degree tours are free to view and the information is presented in English. The museum keeps changing and adding more tours to the page, so it would be prudent to check the page often.” Note that the Louvre’s virtual tours do require that your computer or device can run Adobe Flash.
28. Saurabh also recommended the Vatican’s virtual tours. Once you’ve explored the Sistine Chapel, the Pio Clementino Museum, and the Room of the Chiaroscuri, see if you want to go back for additional virtual sightseeing after reading our tips for visiting Vatican City and getting the most out of the experience.
29. Alex McKechnie, Director of Communications at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia invites folks to enjoy the museum’s virtual tour, which features 360-degree, high-resolution images. Using the virtual tour, she said you can “explore a 360-degree view of the museum’s nearly two-story replica of America's first Liberty Tree, mingle among men and women from the Oneida Indian Nation as they discuss whether to support the British or Revolutionaries, navigate aboard a large-scale replica of an 18th-century privateer ship to discover the war at sea, and more.” Follow the instructions on the virtual tour’s webpage. Move through the museum by clicking on the yellow camera icons or selecting from the dropdown menu in the upper lefthand corner of the tour.
Cultural Landmarks And Ruins
31. Look around Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin estate -- a UNESCO World Heritage site in Spring Green, Wisconsin. You’ll want your volume turned on as this tour is guided. Click the thumbnails at the bottom of the tour to go from area to area, inside and out, and click and drag at any point in the tour to move the view at your own pace. Taliesin’s formal living room is absolutely gorgeous, as are the views out over the estate’s grounds.
32. This Acropolis virtual tour is delightful and informative. Drag to enjoy the 360-degree views and click the owl icons to go from place to place. You can also view a map that will help you get a sense of all the things to take in at this UNESCO World Heritage site.
33. A few months ago, I got to edit a piece on Maya ruins in the Yucatan beyond Chichen Itza. It invited me to reflect on my visit to Coba (one of many Maya ruins in Mexico) and ascending Nohoch Mul (its main pyramid) in the rain, which was, for me, a religious experience. While I want to visit more Maya ruins in the future, for now, this virtual tour of Kohunlich Maya Ruins is putting a smile on my face. Drag to look around, and use the arrows to move from site to site, or hover at the lefthand side of the tour to see a list of sites within the ruins.
34. I’ve wanted to visit Borobudur in Indonesia since I was a tween. This Borobudur virtual tour makes seeing the UNESCO World Heritage site’s stupas and Buddhas safe and simple. Navigate from vantage point to vantage point using the left and right arrows at the bottom of the tour or the thumbnails on the righthand side.
Other Tours And Live Cams That Deserve Your Attention
35. Brenna O’Leary of Diamond PR told us, “One of the best places in Iceland to see the Northern Lights features a live webcam perfect for wanderlusters stuck at home.” Test your luck by visiting Hotel Ranga’s 24-hour webcam after Icelandic nightfall to see if the aurora borealis is painting the sky.
36. Chateau Montelena Winery in Napa Valley hosts an absolutely gorgeous virtual tour that will have you serving yourself an extra large pour of your favorite vintage and cozying up to your screen. Visit the ivy-covered chateau, the Library Room (which is for tastings, of course), and three different vineyards. Be sure to go into full-screen mode for this tour, as the experience is much better. You can scroll through the winery using the left and right arrows in the upper corners of the tour, or select “36 PHOTOS” from the tour’s righthand side to see a list of all your options. This is a 360-degree tour, so click and drag to look around.
37. Ashley Cox, also with Turner PR, recommended an incredible interactive tour of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Be sure you have your volume turned up as this tour is narrated. You’ll begin the tour riding the Sandia Peak Tramway, then can watch a time lapse of the balloon festival, see New Mexican art indoors and out, and more. Your Albuquerque tour begins here. Be sure to click and drag at any point during the tour to enjoy the 360-degree views.
38. If you like street art (or are fascinated by graffiti, which actually isn’t the same thing), read up on exploring Melbourne’s famous street art and enjoy the virtual tour we link to from the bottom of that article!
Virtual Tour Tips
Note that your computer might run a little slower when you’re “participating” in a virtual tour. They can put a higher-than-usual demand on your device’s hardware, but your speed should return to normal once you close out of the tour.
Also, virtual tours are all set up differently. Some are very interactive and relatively intuitive. Others have instructions for use that are worth reading before you dive in. We’ve tried to include notes on all the tours we recommend, but sometimes your best bet is just hovering your cursor over different parts of the screen until you get your bearings.
While we’ve recommended nearly 40 wonderful live cams and virtual tours, there are so many more to explore. Many museums offer virtual tours, and lots of zoos operate live cams that will allow you to observe animals day and night. Some of the tours we recommend are hosted on websites (including Google Arts and Culture and AirPano, which hosts our favorite Borobudur tour) from which you can access other free tours, as well. And then, there’s always Google Maps. Enter any address, city, or landmark in the world and see if you can drag and drop the little orange figure in the lower right corner of the screen. If you can, you’ll be able to enjoy looking and moving around Google Street View! It’s a DIY virtual tour option that could take you around an entire continent and beyond!