As we practice social distancing to help slow the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a given that our plans for spring and summer vacation have been called off. But that doesn’t mean your entire world is limited to your apartment or home for the foreseeable future.
Vacation and tourist destinations across the globe have set up virtual tours and real-time feeds so we can still take in stunning views, admire gorgeous works of art and experience different cultures — all from the comfort of our couches. From Europe to South America to right here in the Pacific Northwest, here are eight virtual vacations that will make you forget you’re in social isolation.
The Cliffs of Moher (County Clare, Ireland)
The 700-foot coastal Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most popular tour destinations. Because they’re located on a hillside, there are no buildings or structures to get in the way of the picturesque views. A virtual tour of the Cliffs of Moher allows you to pick from a variety of options that lead you to different vantage points, including O’Brien’s Tower and Blarney Castle. Be sure to tune in at sunset at least once for some truly ethereal scenery.
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park (Mariposa County, California)
El Capitan, a 15-plus-mile hike in Yosemite National Park, is a challenging but rewarding trail that takes climbers directly to the nose of one of America’s most iconic rock formations. If you’ve been dying to experience the famous views but don’t feel prepared to hike the trail, now is the perfect opportunity to get the best of both worlds. A 3,000-foot interactive hike is live via Google Maps, and it’ll take you to the very best viewing area for one of the most famous rock climbs in the world.
The Great Wall of China (Beijing, China)
China’s most famous tourist attraction remains (virtually) open to the public. Spanning thousands of miles across several provinces of northern China, the wall is rightfully considered one of the most incredible ancient formations on Earth. Take a 6.5-mile virtual hike via The China Guide of the portion of the wall that spans from Jinshanling to Simatai. This particular stretch is ideal for a virtual tour because it features some of the best-preserved sections of the wall — and, of course, fantastic views.
Machu Picchu (Cusco Region, Peru)
Machu Picchu is on many travelers’ bucket lists — and for good reason. The 15th-century Inca citadel and UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was dubbed one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2007, is rife with history, beautiful hikes and mystery (to this day, it’s still unknown why the Incas built the site or what they used it for before abandoning it in the 16th century). You Visit offers 360-degree virtual tours, complete with the breathtaking views and various hikes through the ruins. Keep an eye out for the llamas who reside in the Andes Mountains and freely roam the ruins of Machu Picchu.
Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, California)
No matter how stressed and anxious you are, it’s fairly impossible to watch sea otters frolic in the water without smiling for at least a few moments. The world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium is closed, but its 10 different webcams continue to livestream daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to those adorable sea otters, you can also watch the tropical fish, penguins and sharks.
Pacific Sands Beach Resort (Tofino, B.C., Canada)
Back in the Pacific Northwest, there’s the charming beach town Tofino, home to Pacific Sands Beach Resort. Pacific Sands is a favorite among surfers. Seasoned pros can hit the waves, while lessons are also available for beginners. Surfing lessons may be on hold, but you can still experience stunning coastline views by using Pacific Sands’ 24-hour surf cam. Watching waves is a peaceful and soothing activity, even from afar — and we could all definitely use a massive dose of tranquility during this frightening time.
Red Mountain AVA (Benton County, Washington)
If you’re yearning to get outside in our own beautiful home state, Washington’s Red Mountain AVA is using Facebook Live to bring virtual tours (complete with wine tastings) to your living room. At 4 p.m. every Thursday in April, tune in on Facebook. Red Mountain AVA’s growers and winemakers will provide tours, tips, tricks and tasting suggestions. Wondering which wines pair best with takeout meals? Tune in to find out! And don’t forget to take a virtual horseback wine tour while you’re at it — previous riding experience not required.
Royal Opera House (London, England)
The show can’t go on (for now), but we can still enjoy some of the most magnificent performances of all time. The Royal Opera House’s YouTube channel offers a wide selection of some of the most beloved operas and ballets. The channel has added an #OurHouseToYourHouse playlist where you can watch everything from the Royal Ballet’s “Peter and the Wolf” to the Royal Opera’s performance of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea.” The channel is adding new performances weekly, so be sure to check back frequently.