24 ways to see the world without leaving the couch

Virtually explore national parks, historic landmarks, and top nature destinations.

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Virtually explore national parks, historic landmarks, and top nature destinations.
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Barcroft Media/Getty Images/leoks/Shutterstock/Joey Hadden/Business Insider
  • As the coronavirus spreads across the world, people are advised to stay home and avoid all nonessential traveling.
  • But that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore a new destination – virtually.
  • Museums, hotels, national parks, landmarks, and theme parks all offer virtual experiences for everyone to enjoy.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With flights canceled, vacations postponed, and cruises rescheduled, the coronavirus has taken a toll on travel.

Communities around the world are on lockdown, and millions of people are practicing social distancing. But just because you can’t leave your home, doesn’t mean you can’t explore a new destination.

Hotels, museums, theaters, and popular landmarks are offering virtual experiences for online visitors. Whether it’s the great outdoors you’re craving, a thrilling roller coaster ride, or a relaxing tropic experience, here’s how to see the world without leaving your couch.


You can explore Puerto Rico with Lin-Manuel Miranda as your tour guide.

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Old San Juan is home to buildings dating back to the 16th century.
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Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

Discover Puerto Rico offers a video series where Lin-Manuel Miranda travels to some of Puerto Rico’s most iconic attractions. With Miranda, you’ll explore Old San Juan, learn to salsa dance, and visit his family’s hometown, Vega Alta.


Livestream the northern lights from the warmth of your home.

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The best time to see the northern lights is between August and April.
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Getty Images/Barcroft Media

Explore.org is casting the colorful aurora borealis from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The colors are created when Earth’s magnetic field interacts with charged particles, and the result is a breathtaking light show.


Imagine yourself on the sandy beaches of Phuket, Thailand.

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Patong Beach, Thailand.
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John_Walker/Shutterstock

Amari Phuket, a luxury resort, offers a virtual tour with imagery of the pristine beaches of Patong Beach.


Hold in screams on a virtual roller coaster ride at a Disney theme park.

Although the Disney parks have temporarily closed, you can still create your own Disney adventure. YouTube channels, like CoasterForce or iThemePark, are dedicated to providing you a Disney experience without ever purchasing a ticket.


You can hang with penguins, elephants, and giraffes at the San Diego Zoo.

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The zoo is home to nine elephants.
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San Diego Zoo

Zoos around the world have set up livestreams of their animals. At the San Diego Zoo, you can watch apes, giraffes, elephants, or penguins live.


Travel into the lush greenery of the Amazon rainforest using virtual reality.

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The Amazon rainforest spans across nine different countries in South America.
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Fotos593/Shutterstock

Conservation International offers a 360-degree view of the world’s largest tropical rainforest. You’ll virtually travel through trees, water, and air to get the best views of the rainforest.


Pour a piña colada and recreate your canceled cruise by going on a virtual one.

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A cruise ship in the Caribbean.
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Andrea Friedrich/Getty Images

Cruise lines like Viking Ocean Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line offer virtual tours of the ships.


You can go whale watching on Oregon’s coast.

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Tourists watch whales migrate up North America’s coast.
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Sam Chadwick / Shutterstock.com

Oregon State Parks is hosting a livestream every day to celebrate its Spring Whale Watch Week event. Watch as gray whales travel thousands of miles to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska.


Discover the Grand Canyon without ever lacing up your sneakers.

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The Grand Canyon is one of 419 national park sites in the US.
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Shutterstock/Galyna Andrushko

You can virtually roam one of the most popular national parks in the US thanks to Google Earth.


Immerse yourself in Italian cuisine with this Italian grandmother.

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This grandmother will teach you how to cook a traditional Italian meal.
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Airbnb

With the help of this Italian grandmother, you can learn 100-year-old recipes from the comfort of your own kitchen. Between the food, hospitality, and history, you’ll feel transported to Rome, Italy.


Digitally step inside the Louvre in Paris, France.

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The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world. It expands over 780,000 square feet.
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Thierry Thorel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

You’ve likely heard of Paris’ famous art museum, and now is your chance to explore it online. Art curators and lecturers will walk you through some of the museum’s most important treasures.


Virtually traverse deep into the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

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The national park features over 100 caves.
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Doug Meek/Shutterstock

A park ranger will virtually guide you through the caverns in New Mexico.


If you love Shakespeare, watch a play from the famous Globe Theatre in London.

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Shakespeare was part owner of the theater.
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cowardlion / Shutterstock

The Globe Theatre offers recordings of Shakespeare’s plays for a small fee.


You can travel virtually to the Taj Mahal in New Delhi, India.

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The Taj Mahal is India’s most popular tourist attraction.
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Marco Taliani de Marchio/Shutterstock

Using Google Earth, head to the “crown of palaces,” where millions of people visit each year.


Sip a tropical drink as you virtually visit this picturesque Hawaiian resort.

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Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui’s most iconic beaches.
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Eva Browning/Shutterstock

Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa’s webcam streams a beautiful expanse of Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii, 24 hours a day. If there’s a different island you want to “visit,” Marriott Bonvoy has live webcams on four of Hawaii’s islands.


Check out the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

Load up on history and art through this virtual tour.


Jump into spring with a virtual visit to Seattle’s Volunteer Park Conservatory.

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The Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle.
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Getty/John Elk

We could all use a little sunshine, so check out these lush botanical gardens.


Virtually walk the Great Wall of China.

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The Great Wall of China typically has about 10 million visitors a year.
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Edi Chen/Shutterstock

Although a section of the Great Wall of China reopened Tuesday, you can still visit the country’s most popular landmark virtually through this online guide.


Wander through centuries-old art and relics on the Vatican Museum’s website.

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The Sistine Chapel’s renaissance ceilings were painted by Michelangelo.
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Eric Vandeville-Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Tour the iconic Sistine Chapel from the comfort of your couch.


Take in a 360-degree view of Antarctica.

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Most travelers visit Antarctica on cruise ships.
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Volodymyr Goinyk/Shutterstock

The destination might not be high on your bucket list, but these breathtaking views from AirPano might change your mind.


Explore outer space with NASA.

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The space shuttle at NASA in Houston, Texas.
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Tricia Daniel / Shutterstock

NASA’s Space Center Houston app offers virtual reality experiences and a tour of its educational facility.


Virtually trek the Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

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Bryce Canyon is one of five national parks in Utah.
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Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Google Earth provides breathtaking views of the park’s spire-shaped rock formations and deep, red-colored rocks.


You can watch the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, bloom from anywhere.

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Spring sparks cherry blossom season in Washington, DC.
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Sean Pavone/Shutterstcok

The Trust for the National Mall set up a BloomCam for everyone to enjoy.


Virtually splash and swim with the otters at the Tennessee Aquarium.

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The aquarium is home to North American River Otters.
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Shutterstock

The aquarium has live feeds of otters, penguins, and aquatic reefs.