Amazing travel experiences from the comfort of your couch
While travel has come to a near standstill during the coronavirus pandemic, technology is allowing you to visit almost any place on the planet in the blink of an eye. According to Google Keyword Planner data, searches for the term “virtual tour” increased seven times—from 1,300 in February to almost 10,000 in March, when governments around the world began locking down countries and cities. And as billions of people around the world continue to shelter in place, the numbers keep rising.
With this in mind, the travel insurance site InsureMyTrip has created a list that ranks the virtual tours seeing the biggest increases in Google searches since the beginning of March. Forbes has got the list of the 15 top-ranked virtual tours, plus some other cool travel experiences to have from the comfort of your couch.
1. The Louvre
Now you don’t need to battle the crowds at the Louvre to get an up-close look at the Mona Lisa. Topping the list of the world’s top-searched virtual tours is Paris’s legendary art museum. Dive deep into the museum’s archives with detailed virtual tours on the Louvre’s website. Another option for museum-goers? “Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to bring priceless art and experiences into your living room,” says Ronni Kenoian, manager of ecommerce for InsureMyTrip.
2. San Diego Zoo
Love cuddly animals? The San Diego Zoo is live-streaming many of its animal areas, allowing viewers to virtually visit their favorite furry friends any time of the day or night. Another option: The Houston Zoo offers multiple animal cameras focused on different habitats.
3. Disney World
Disney is bringing the magic of the Mouse right to you, with everything from 360-degree street panoramas to virtual theme park rides on its YouTube channel. Want to see more scenes from the Theme Park Capital of the World? Visit Orlando is serving up plenty of other virtual thrills on its blog.
4. Great Wall of China
Explorers can jet off to the Great Wall of China and learn insider facts about this amazing feat of architecture—the longest structure ever built by humans. Want to visit other UNESCO World Heritage sites using 3D maps? Check out Google’s Heritage on the Edge. “This is particularly special because the featured sites are currently threatened by climate change and the goal of this interactive experience is to digitally preserve them,” says Kenoian. “Not only are the sites beautiful to see, but the entire experience provides education about the history, heritage, protection and conservation efforts for these landmarks.”
The Guggenheim in New York City will allow you to walk the curving halls of this hallowed institution using Street View, making for a more realistic experience.
6. Google Arts Project
Street Art: Google Arts Project: Street Art showcases the world’s greatest graffiti works and tells the stories behind them. “Viewers can take virtual walking tours, view online exhibitions and learn about the artists themselves through interactive features,” says Kenoian.
7. Eiffel Tower
Head to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris without any lines—or jet lag.
8. Metropolitan Museum of Art
From a timeline of 5,000 years of art history to meeting artists, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art shares an immersive menu of interactive offerings.
9. Georgia Aquarium
Take a trip under the sea at the Georgia Aquarium, which shows live streams of an array of creatures, from sea otters to jellyfish to beluga whales. Other amazing underwater virtual visits include the Monterey Aquarium and the New England Aquarium, which also streams live presentations and suggests activities to try at home. Or explore life under the real sea with the National Marine Sanctuaries, which is doing virtual dives in the American Samoas, the Florida Keys, Monterey Bay and more.
10. London’s National Gallery
The possibilities of what you can see at London’s National Gallery are nearly endless. If you are feeling overwhelmed by choices, Google also offers a quick link to the top 10 virtual museums around the globe.
11. Google & NASA’s Access Mars
Here’s a trip that’s out of this world—to Mars. “While actual travel to the red planet may not yet be possible for our travelers, NASA has partnered with Google to offer a tour of a 3D replica of the Martian surface as recorded by the Curiosity rover,” says Kenoian.
12. Legoland Hotel
Need a vacation? Pretend to check into the Legoland Hotel.
13. Universal Studios
Want to get your thrills on? Go behind the scenes at Hollywood’s Universal Studios or enjoy the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—and more—from home via Universal Orlando’s virtual offerings.
Check out the sea life and hop on the Mako roller coaster at SeaWorld in Orlando.
15. Atlanta Zoo
For an extra dose of adorable, the Atlanta Zoo features a PandaCam showcasing the adventures of its giant pandas. Want to see more nature in action? You can tour five of the world’s most incredible National Parks, thanks to Google Arts & Culture and the National Park Service.
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