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Mental Health

How to Explore the World Without Leaving Your Living Room

We need more than our regular couch surfing right now.

Whether you’ve already been social distancing for days or are about to go into hibernation for… who knows how long, it’s likely we’ll all find ourselves itching to get out of the house during this strange and surreal time stuck indoors. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing ways to explore the world outside your living room without ever actually leaving it.

That might sound impossible, but we’re talking about using your imagination with some virtual tours and online performances. Most of the options we were able to round up are available year round, but some are just special treats to keep us from going stir crazy with all of the coronavirus (COVID-19) stress going around right now. In fact, you might want to bookmark a few to enjoy even after this whole situation clears up. They can help you take a mental vacation when you’re tight on money or can’t take enough time off to make an actual trip — or just need a break from your everyday life.

Take a look below to see all the virtual adventures you and your family can enjoy from the comfort of your own home!

Tour museums and historical sites across the globe.

Google Street View’s Museum Views can help you take high-definition strolls through over 3,000 museums and heritage sites from every corner of the planet, such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, and Guggenheim Museum. You can also step inside the Sistine Chapel on a virtual tour offered by Vatican Museums, then click over to check out a few exhibits on display at the Louvre

Explore national parks and conservations.

Missing the feeling of being surrounded by nature? Check out one (or all) of the 32 national park tours available through Google Earth, including incredible views of places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. The search engine has highlighted six scenic tours with their Hidden Worlds of National Parks project, which immerses you in guided journeys of Alaska’s Kenai Fjords, Hawaii’s volcanoes, the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah, and Florida’s Dry Tortugas. A couple conservations also provide 360-degree views of the great outdoors, like the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma or New York State’s Adirondacks and Catskills hot spots.

Dive into virtual deep seas.

Stay dry while exploring the ocean floor of areas like the Florida Keys and American Samoa, thanks to the virtual dives shared by National Marine Sanctuaries. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has also teamed up with Google Street View to provide underwater views across the globe, including Australia, Bermuda, Monaco, Mexico, Philippines, Belize, the Galapagos, as well as some places in the US. 

Take a walk on the wild(life) side.

Need something on top of yoga and meditation to help you feel zen right now? Try tuning into the soothing Jelly Cam from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If jellyfish aren’t your thing, they provide more watery wildlife with their penguins, sharks, coral reef, and whatever surprises might pop up in the open sea on their list of live cams. Want something a little cuddlier? The aquarium’s YouTube page will help you out with eight hours of adorable otters. A ton of zoos also share exciting and adorable live streams of their animals, like the Memphis Zoo (they have a panda cam!) and San Diego Zoo.

Enjoy a night at the opera.

The Metropolitan Opera is offering free nightly streams of classic performances on a weekly basis throughout the coronavirus crisis. The operas are shared each evening at 7:30 ET and are available to stream for 20 hours. For the week of March 23, they’ll be highlighting the best of Wagner and kicking things off with Tristan and Isolde. You won’t need any binoculars to get a great view — and you won’t have to get all dressed up, unless you’re getting tired of loungewear and want to make a real night of it.

Most of these options are available all year round, but we are especially thankful to them right now. No offense to our Netflix queue, but these virtual tours, performances, and explorations are exactly what we really need to help keep us sane while hunkered down!

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