Parenting

43 virtual field trips to take while you're stuck inside

Museums, landmarks, and more are only a click away.

Family huddled around a tablet in the living room Credit: Getty Images / Nattakorn Maneerat

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I don't know about you but, for me, the best part of school was always the field trips. With the kids home from school and no place to go, everyone is itching to get out and see something new.

If your family is feeling cabin fever set in, have no fear. We've rounded up the best and most engaging virtual field trips for kids. Most of our picks are kid-focused and have additional web content to help you make the most of your virtual escape. You may not be leaving the house, but you'll definitely feel like you went on an adventure—no permission slip required.

World travel

easter island
Credit: Getty Images / anharris

Easter Island is just one of the landmarks available via virtual tour.

1. Ellis Island

Scholastic has an entire suite of virtual field trips, but their excursion to Ellis Island is both entertaining and information-packed, making it our favorite. Using an interactive map, video tour, and stories from present-day immigrant children, it explores immigration stories throughout American history through lens of the Ellis Island entry point.

2. The White House

This floor-by-floor tour of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is narrated by kids and has annotated photos of the history of each room. Filled with trivia and fun anecdotes, this one is entertaining for adults and engaging for kids. This tour is meant to be experienced via virtual reality headset, but is in-depth enough to enjoy with a desktop computer.

3. Jamaica

Started by an entrepreneur mom, World of Wonder Travel Agency has set up virtual travel sites all over the world, as well as downloadable passports and stamps. Each destination features kid-friendly components, like a leprechaun-tracker in Ireland and a video of a turtle hospital in the Florida Keys. Our favorite stop on this world tour is Jamaica, with numerous links to virtual tour videos. The site also has links to info on Jamaican art, history, and cuisine—and a video of kids talking about what makes them proud to be Jamaican.

4. The Great Wall of China

Many of us may never get to see the Great Wall of China in person. This is a good—and free alternative that gives you an up-close view of one of history's greatest marvels, without having to put 13,170 miles on your walking shoes. This website takes you on a small portion of the wall and gives an overview of the wall's history and the different sections, as well as their history and importance.

5. Easter Island

Who were the people who made the Moai head megaliths? What were they like? How did they make them, and where did this ancient civilization go? Uncover the answer to these and other fascinating questions through the virtual tour of Easter Island.

Nature explorations

6. National Park Service

The National Park Service has paired with Google to give stunning and seriously entertaining tours of five locations across the United States. From an active volcano in Hawaii, to bat-filled caverns in New Mexico, to a ship wreck located off the coast of Florida, this is a beautifully produced series that will engage kids and pique their interest in some of our country's most treasured natural wonders.

7. Tundra Connection

This is a stunning foray into the eco-systems of the Arctic tundra and habits of the polar bears that live there. For the past decade, Discovery Education has teamed up with Polar Bears International to host a series of shared learning experiences to engage students and inspire their interest in polar bears and their Arctic habitat, so there are plenty of resources to look through and enjoy.

8. Coral reefs

The Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s education team has developed a transformational, interactive education program to connect the public to real-time coral reef activity through their Reefs Go Live program. Scientists deliver live underwater lessons, hitting on such topics as endangered species, predators, coral bleaching, and climate change.

Children's museums

mother daughter laptop
Credit: Getty Images / fizkes

Children's museums provide plenty of virtual entertainment and learning opportunities.

9. Children's Museum of Houston

Filled with online resources, the Children's Museum of Houston has seriously opened their doors to the world, giving kids a hands-on, minds on virtual experience. Featuring everything from Facebook Live events, to story times to Mr. O’s “O Wow Moments,” to science and art lessons, kids get a fully interactive STEAM experience from home. They have numerous offerings each day, so be sure to check their events calendar regularly.

10. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

The largest children's museum in the world has truly brought their expansive kids offerings online! Your kid could spend all day here, with one-minute visits, daily story times, DIY science experiments, and visits with experts.

11. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and Leslie Science & Nature Center

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum started offering STEM courses through their spring break program, but it went so well that they've kept them going throughout the quarantine. They do all sorts of interactive STEM actives with their sister museum, the Leslie Science & Nature Center, including bringing live animals to their talks and sometimes even taking kids on nature hikes in their area.

12. The Children's Museum and Theater of Maine

Every day at 10:30 a.m. EST, the Children's Museum and Theater of Maine offers their at Home Together program where they take kids through STEAM projects, learning experiences, and experiments.

13, 14, and 15. Honorable mentions

These children's museums don't have virtual tours but they all have extensive parent resources and tutorials on STEM and STEAM projects to do at home.

STEM and STEAM learning

stem learning
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There are plenty of STEM learning opportunities available.

16. Boston Museum of Science

With a history of being a leader in producing digital exhibits, videos, and audio presentations, it's no surprise that Boston's Museum of Science has created an impressive and inspiring virtual museum experience. With daily live stream events, webinars, podcasts, MOS has something every day to engage your child and spark discussion—and it also offers at-home STEM resources for parents.

17. The Museum of Computing

Probably one of the best virtual tours we found while researching this article, the National Museum of Computing really makes you feel like you are in the museum and up close in the exhibits, including one dedicated to the world's oldest original working digital computer.

Other virtual museum tours let you walk through their halls, but this one lets you lean over displays up close. You can burn serious time here with your kids, looking in depth at the interworking and gears of computers, and learning the history of computing science. Many stops on this tour are annotate where visitors can click for additional background history of the exhibits.

18. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Nothing quite compares with the feeling of standing in front of a towering Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, but the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History online virtual tour comes pretty close. This tour takes you throughout all of the museum's permanent, current, and past exhibits. Take your time going through each of the museum's three floors where—thanks to the power of photography—you may find yourself closer to some of the exhibits virtually than you ever would in real life. Don't miss a trip to the café, where you can find yourself looking deep into the jaws of a great white shark!

19. California Science Center

Every weekday at 10 a.m. PST, the California Science Center posts a new “stuck at home” video. Some have scientists virtually host kids in their own home as they talk them through home-based science projects, and some take kids into some of the museum's ecosystem exhibits, where naturalists give an up-close view of such wonders as a live chuckwalla or the museum's kelp forest tanks.

20. Discovery Education

It's not exactly a science museum, but Discovery Education is not to be missed. These virtual events let students go to amazing places like inside of Facebook's headquarters or to a working dairy farm, and it's filled with supplemental materials to help you figure out how to build a lesson plan around what your child learns.

21. The Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS)

MODS recently launched their “virtual learning” videos with accompanying activities and this is an absolute favorite for any elementary-aged kid. The host is upbeat and an engaging personality that draws kids in and gets them excited about every lesson. Parents can get regular updates by signing up for MODS eNews, or you can visit their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds or their YouTube channel, where they are steadily building exciting, inspiring, and entertaining content for kids. These fun STEM videos are updated Monday through Friday and range from reading and hands-on activities to science demonstrations.

Air and space exhibits

space
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Kids who love space will enjoy tours of air and space museums.

22. NASA's Langley Research Center and Glenn Research Center

NASA's Langley Research Center and the Glenn Research Center offers a robust and in-depth tour of space science with entertaining and impressive virtual tours of their facilities. With these tours, you'll get to see some of the most important technological inventions in mankind's history. If your kids are starting to zone out on virtual learning, have them visit the Gantry Landing and Impact Research Facility, which is filled with crash videos and cool facts about the physics of energy and force.

23. Boeing Aircrafts

These behind-the-scenes videos transport students to places where mind-boggling innovation meets astonishing creativity. Explore the latest engineering, technology, and manufacturing at Boeing with virtual field trips though their Future U program. The Future U website includes ready-to-go STEM activities, virtual field trips to Boeing sites, and extended-reality videos with companion activities.

24. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

This restored battleship museum and space shuttle pavilion has put together a one-stop-shop of all its digital resources, “Experience Intrepid Anywhere”. Kids can stay engaged with the museum digitally through home-school resources, virtual tours, virtual talks, and virtual veterans programs. They have a terrific list of upcoming talks for kids, including how to navigate by reading star constellations, an exploration of space science, and women in STEAM mentorship programs.

25. At-Home Astronomy Activities from Giant Magellan Telescope

Together with their partner institutions, the Pasadena-based Giant Magellan Telescope (GMTO) has launched Seeing Stars: At-Home Astronomy Activities from Giant Magellan Telescope. The global team of some of the world's most renowned scientists are working to build one of the world’s largest telescopes and they have compiled astronomy-related activities to keep everyone at home shooting for the stars. Through their Astronomy at Home project, they've compiled information on backyard stargazing, a weekly podcast and virtual learning.

26. Access Mars

There is no way your school district was going to approve of the travel fees to Mars anyway, so now is the time to take the trip into outer space your kid has been begging for. Kids can learn about the Curiosity mission by clicking points of interest across Mars’s vast and desolate terrain and travel to different mission sites.

27. Apollo in Real Time

This one is a bit of time travel with a space mission! Lift off with the astronauts on three of the Apollo missions as they make the moon landings and circumnavigate the earth. Still photos spliced with archived videos will leave kids in awe. Real-time transcripts from ground control to the space shuttles make it feel like they are behind the scenes on these space missions.

Art museums

virtual art museum
Credit: Getty Images / U.Ozel.Images

With virtual tours of some of the world's top art museums, you'll feel like you're in the gallery.

27. The Met

Google Arts and Culture lets you stroll through the halls of the Met and look at their stunning art collection. The museum's #MetKids blog has kids take a closer look at the art, providing exercises, insights, and thought-provoking questions and activities to help them relate to what they see.

28. The Van Gogh Museum

Known for his thick application of paint, and the energetic swirling of his strokes, few art history lessons inspire kids to throw their pent-up energy into art projects like learning about the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. When your kids are showing serious signs of cabin fever, take them to the Van Gogh Museum, give them a pot of yellow paint and a canvas and let them get their aggressions out like the painter himself. The tour, a part of Google’s Art and Culture Network, takes you through the Van Gogh Museum allowing you to view the masterpieces up close.

29. The Musée du Louvre

If your child isn't yet familiar with the Louvre, they will love seeing the famous pyramid in the main courtyard, and exhibits like the showcase of Egyptian antiquities.

30. Museo Frida Kahlo

What fervent Frida Kahlo fan hasn’t dreamed of visiting her blue house in Mexico? Take a step inside La Casa Azul and give your child a lesson in color and folk art by the undisputed master of both.

Theme parks

VR headset
Credit: Getty Images / Pekic

Visit at theme part—and even virtually hop aboard a ride or two.

31. Walt Disney World

Spend all day at the park and jump to the front of the line without a Fast Pass. Set aside some time, because—just like in real life—you and your kids could spend all day in Disney World. Virtual tours take you on walking tours through the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and more. There are also unofficial 360-degree YouTube videos that feel just like you're on famous rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain.

32. Legoland Florida Resort

The Great Lego Race and Miniland USA are two main attractions you can check out on your virtual visit to Legoland. Make sure you hop a ride on the dragon roller coaster; if you pan all the way out while you're on the ride you'll even see roller coaster cars full of people beside you, to make it seem like you can really interact with humans outside of your family again!

33. SeaWorld Orlando

A visit to Seaworld includes a tranquil tour of its waterfront, a swim with the stingrays in Discovery Cove, and a visit to the Antartica: Empire of the Penguin exhibit, where you'll feel like you're at the bottom of an Arctic glacier overlooking penguins playing and swimming around you. Little kids will love the opportunity to ride the Mako roller coaster, something they may be too small to ride in real life.

Zoos, aquariums, and farms

virtual aquarium tour
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With special virtual tours, it can feel like you have the aquarium all to yourself.

34. Monterey Bay Aquarium

Be delighted by the antics of their sea otters or mellow out to the hypnotic drifting of the jellies. With 10 live cams to choose from, you can spend all day experiencing the wonders of the Monterey Bay.

35. The New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium is staying active and engaged with its community, with presentations posted daily on Facebook at 11 a.m. EST. For even more updates and stories, follow along on Twitter and Instagram. Check out adorable penguin feedings and Harbor Seal teeth-brushing sessions, as well as the at-home projects and activities for kids that the aquarium posts on their website.

36. Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium has compiled a ton of fun and engaging resources to help teach about their animals and the ocean from afar. From live streams to lessons plans, they've got you covered. With 13 different underwater webcams showcasing piranhas, penguins, and everything in between, there is always something to keep your kiddo engaged.

37. Georgia Sea Turtle Center

For all of the turtle-lovers, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island has launched “Scute School,” an online series taking place daily on their Facebook page. Fun fact: Scute is the thickened horny or bony plate on a turtle’s shell—you'll learn turtle facts like that and many others with their weekly educational offerings. They also have a beautiful 360-degree tour of the wetlands, to help kids really visualize the habitat in which these turtles live.

38. Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo has six ongoing live animal cams. They have old favorites like giraffes and elephants, but they also mix it up with wacky flamingos and industrious leaf-cutter ants.

39. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is live-streaming a Home Safari on its Facebook page each weekday at 3 p.m. EST, where you get to meet different animals at the zoo.

40. San Diego Zoo

With 10 live cams and hours of archival footage, there is enough wildlife wonder at the San Diego Zoo to study a different animal every day for weeks. If you don't know where to start, our favorites are the playful baby elephants or the lively penguin cam.

41. Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo is sharing regular, behind-the-scenes footage and educational videos on social media, using the hashtag #BringTheZooToYou.

42. The Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo also has a Bring the Zoo to You program. Its Twitter feed has short but wonderful check-ins with their animals, and regular updates from a snack-loving prehensile-tailed porcupine named Bebeto.

43. Farm Food 360

Immerse yourself in 11 different virtual tours and farming experiences. Learn about everything from minks and pigs to apples and eggs.

Oh, the places you'll go—right from the comfort of your own home! This list may seem exhaustive but every day new museums are working to engage their community by creating new and engaging educational resources. Check out your local museums, zoos, and aquariums and see what they have to offer. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

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