The next time you’re tempted to kick back and reach for the remote, why not explore the world’s most famous museums and attractions instead?
Nowadays, when you crave culture or famous attractions in the U.S. or another country, all you need to do is power on your phone, laptop, tablet, or other device, and take a virtual tour. You can even go “virtual sightseeing” at popular tourist destinations on the other side of the world.
So, prop your feet, take a sip of your favorite beverage, and enrich yourself with these free online virtual tours of art, culture, history, and world-renowned attractions from the comfort of your own home.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California: When you can’t spend a day at the beach or setting out to sea on a boat, you can still enjoy frolicking sea otters, foraging black-necked stilts, and other sea birds, penguins, sharks, or whatever creature drifts by in the open sea on the live webcam near Carmel and Pebble Beach in California.
National Aquarium, Baltimore, Maryland: You don’t need to travel to Baltimore when you can dive into a virtual tour of scenes from the National Aquarium, including Atlantic and Pacific coral reefs, dolphins, and tropical rain forest wildlife.
The Louvre Museum, Paris: Take a virtual tour of the artworks of Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Tintoretto, dig through collections of Egyptian Antiquities or take a virtual stroll through the Galerie d’Apollon at The Louvre Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of art representing all periods through the mid-19th century.
Vatican Museum, Rome: The Vatican Museum houses several museums and galleries displaying extensive collections of artwork collected by popes over several centuries. Enjoy 360° virtual tours of the Sistine Chapel, Pio Clementino Museum, Raphael’s Rooms, and more.
Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts: Explore virtual exhibitions of iconic artist Norman Rockwell’s artwork during the Civil Rights Movement and presidential elections. You can also learn all about Thomas Nast, one of the most influential political cartoonists of the 19th century.
The British Museum, London: View prints and drawings selected from the British Museum, dating from the 15th century through the present day, at the famed museum’s virtual gallery. Take an online tour of the Oceania virtual gallery, featuring artwork from Australia, New Guinea, and islands spread across the Pacific Ocean.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: Browse more than 1,700 works of art by more than 625 artists in the museum’s Collection Online, a searchable database of selected artworks from the late 19th century to the present. You can also take a virtual tour of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum building in New York with Google Arts & Culture.
National Women’s History Museum, Alexandria, Virginia: Take a virtual tour of exhibits on African-American women and the civil rights movement, women of NASA, history of nursing, women inventors, outdoor adventurers, and more at the National Women’s History Museum, located in Alexandria, Virginia.
NASA: In the mood to orbit the world of space exploration? Take a virtual tour of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, or browse one of 10 virtual tours of the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.: Take a self-guided, room-by-room virtual tour of select exhibits and areas of the famed museum, which oversees more than 145 million specimens and artifacts revealing the history of our planet and human interactions with the environment.
Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, California: Enjoy musician interviews, history, and educational videos with the Recording Academy’s Museum at Home, updated daily with new exhibits and content.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio: Explore 34 years of induction ceremony footage, archival images, and other online Rock Hall resources with this museum’s searchable database.
Italian Cultural Sites: Explore six of Italy’s most famous cultural and archaeological sites with a Google Arts & Culture virtual tour of the ruins of Pompeii, St. Mark’s Basilica, the leaning tower of Pisa, Venice canals, the Colosseum, Roman Pantheon, and Milan Duoma, the cathedral that took nearly 600 years to build.
Machu Picchu Ruins, Peru: Even if you’re not up to ascending the steep steps at Machu Picchu, the site of ancient Inca Ruins in the Andes Mountains, you can still explore the nearly intact dwellings from the 15th and 16th centuries using Google Streetview at Google Arts & Culture.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: Stretch your online legs with a virtual hike on the Corridor Trails with the Phantom Ranch Tour or take the Colorado River Raft Tour through the Grand Canyon. Hungry for more? Embark on one or all three virtual field trips exploring the Grand Canyon, presented by Arizona State University.
Yosemite National Park, California: Enjoy colorful, panoramic views of natural beauty and audio guidance with the Virtual Yosemite Tour of one of America’s most visited and cherished national parks. Check out “Navigating Virtual Yosemite” before lacing up those hiking slippers to get the most from your virtual tour.
Once you rest up from your virtual travels, let us know in the
comments which virtual tours you enjoyed the most. Do you know of a
virtual tour that would make a great addition to this list? Let everyone
in on it by posting a link.