The UK has gone into an unprecedented lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus and lessen the strain on global healthcare systems. This has meant, for the first time in modern life, airlines have been grounded on a nationwide level and the passion for exploration and travel we once had as a world is being forcibly placed on hold. Yet, even in these times of lockdown and isolation, technology offers a new way to discover far off lands, and provide a dreamy escape from reality.
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“For those longing for culture and entertainment in a world where you can’t explore outside your home, and when you can’t quite commit to ANOTHER series, virtual travel could be the answer,” says Nicky Kelvin, Content Editor at The Points Guy UK.
“The increasing lockdown of people around the world is likely to fuel the popularity of such experiences, but this should also spur on advancements in the quality of VR beyond the pandemic so that more and more people will be able to enjoy these improved experiences.”
Here are some of the coolest virtual exploration opportunities available right now.
Get up close and personal with wildlife
Though zoos across the globe are closing their doors to the public, the animals are still living on behind the gates and eager animal-lovers can still get an insight into what daily life looks like for these magnificent creatures. In Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is streaming live cameras of its Giraffes herd, which includes a brand new member baby Viv who was born in June last year.
The camera will be broadcast for eight hours every day so that giraffe-fans can watch the animals graze and relax.
San Diego zoo is also offering a similar setup, offering the chance to get a sneak peek into the life of over some of its liveliest residents. Choose from baboons, penguins, polar bears and koalas.
Meanwhile, Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has ten live cams spread throughout its exhibits. Be delighted by the antics of sea otters, take in the mysterious beauty of jellyfish, or watch the sharks swim through the deep waters.
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Soak up the culture of an art gallery
Art galleries in cities across the world allow enthusiasts to take in some of their finest works from the comfort of their homes by using their websites. Paris’ Louvre, Musée de l’Orangerie, and Musée d’Orsay all offer plenty of their paintings and artworks online, including a 360-degree virtual visit to Water Lilies by Claude Monet.
Similarly, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Uffizi Gallery, Florence and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam show plenty of their beautiful pieces on their websites, which virtual visitors can click through and learn the back story of, too.
The Art Institute of Chicago allows art lovers to get up close and personal with Van Gogh’s self-portrait, and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC has several online exhibits ideal for browsing from the comfort of your couch.
Alternatively, put Google Street View to good use and “stroll” around the Guggenheim in Los Angeles, where you can take in Post-Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art exhibits.
In Pittsburg, the Andy Warhol Museum is offering interactive art lessons on its website, giving creatives an insight into how to create pop art style self-portraits using collage.
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Take a 360-degree tour of vacation havens
Whether you’re dreaming of the sand between your toes or wishing you were on an urban exploration, modern technology brings the gift of adventure to your living room. Head to Japan and embark on VR 360° tour of Japan using japan.travel/en/ Whether you want to see the streets of Tokyo,
Whether you want to take in the streets of Tokyo, watch a sumo wrestling match or even see the majestic deer in Nara champ on a snack, the virtual reality cameras are on hand to make magic happen.
Head over to Tahiti 360 (tahititourisme.uk/en-gb/) and experience an exclusive virtual reality tour that takes intrepid travellers onboard an award-winning Paul Gaugin cruises ship, boasting a unique look into the heart of French Polynesia. Be amazed by aerial views of stunning private beach Motu Mahana, or look through locally sourced produce and goods at Papeete marketplace. What’s more, travellers can even gain an insight into the island’s nature, setting their sights on stingrays and shark encounters.
Thrill-seekers can virtually explore the wonders of Yosemite Mariposa County from the comfort of their own home using yosemite.com and the Xplorit program.
The interactive tour will take viewers above the granite giants, through the rushing waterfalls and across verdant valleys, giving a one-of-a-kind 360-degree view of the whole country. Friendly park rangers are even on hand to give information about the natural landscape.
If you are dreaming of sunnier times, why not log onto one of Santa Cruz’s beach cams, bringing the calming waves and glistening shoreline to your home.
Santacruz.org boasts nine beach cameras dotted around the beach town, offering scenic views of Aptos, Moss Landing, and Capitola via beach pier and surf cam. Or take an aerial tour of the boardwalk.
Alternatively, a four-part series called Wander List gives viewers an insight into the attractions of the desert oasis via a four-part series. Wander List will explore scenic hikes, the shoes of the Salton Sea and the towering windmills of San Gorgonio Pass.
Chill Chaser looks at local farmers’ markets, Sunday polo matches, and rock climbing. DineDPS highlights a few local restaurateurs transforming the desert dining scene and the latest series, craftGPS explores the cocktail scene through the eyes of the locals. Simply log onto visitgreaterpalmsprings.com to find out more.
Learn something new at a museum
Museums are the perfect opportunity to spend some time whilst also learning something you didn’t know before.
In Sacramento, California, The California Capitol Museum is offering virtual tours of its blended architectural neo-classical and Renaissance Revival styles, allowing users to roam its halls and take in the 40-acre surrounding park all while learning about the city’s historic background. The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, has also opened its doors – online – to flight enthusiasts. Access the cockpits and interiors of the aircraft houses in the museum from the comfort of your own living room.
These 3D self-guided virtual tours include Concorde, the NASA Space Shuttle Trainer, and the first-ever presidential jet plane, aka the “Air Force One”.
Closer to home, The British Museum website offers an interactive look around the Museum. Simply select which period you want to look at from which part of the world and then learn interesting facts about the piece.
Being on lockdown can feel like a sad, long prospect, however, embracing the opportunities the online world has to offer means travel lovers can still explore the world and gain an insight into far off lands.
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