Virtual Tours Allow World Exploration During Shelter in Place

Onlookers can now view virtual tours in their personal living quarters through programs such as EarthCam, which hosts live camera feeds of various locations such as Times Square in New York City. April 12, 2020. Photo by Jennifer Yin/The Guardsman.

By Sadie Peckens

Staff Writer 

Families all around the nation are planning virtual trips through on-line tours, live webcam footage, and photo collections as the shelter in place continues. Family weekend plans are now taking on new shape through virtual tours. 

One website that is offering free virtual tours is Refinery29, an American digital media and entertainment website focused on the catalyst of women to see, feel, and claim their power. 

Refinery29’s article titled, “Here Are Some Incredible Virtual Tours To Help You Pass The Time,” written by Michelle Santiago Cortes, explained the virtual tour as, “The whole point of museums and national parks and adventures is to go outside and no virtual tour, however elaborate, will ever replace that. But in times when we’re confined to the walls of our homes, we must resort to more creative ways of expanding our boundaries … The virtual tour serves that purpose.” 

So, settle into your couch and discover the world with the following free experiences!


For virtual artwork tours, Google Arts & Culture provides digital access to cultural information and museum collections from around the world at Images of artwork and artifacts from over 1,000 museums are available, as well as tours of museums with a ‘Street View’ feature. 

Viewers and onlookers can now sort through the rich content by viewing topics titled, ‘Themes,’ ‘Artists,’ ‘Art Movements,’ Historical Events,’ and more. 

In addition to viewing creative work, visitors can help create new work with hosted on-line projects. For example, visitors are invited to add to a ‘Collective Poem,’ which is generated by words entered by participants from around the globe. Games, stories, and field trips offer additional opportunities to enjoy art and heritage featured on the website. 

Cultural Heritage Sites 

CyArk, a 501 nonprofit organization located in Oakland, CA offers digital archives of cultural heritage sites at At CyArk, visitors can virtually travel to over 40 countries. Photos, text, 3D models, and maps immerse visitors in historically important and fascinating sites such as, views if the New York State Pavilion, Antarctic Expedition Huts, Ankgor Wat, and Petra.  

In addition, CyArk provides 53 free lesson plans that can be used at home Lesson 6 takes students on a “Virtual Scavenger Hunt,” providing clues that have them search through maps hosted on the website.


For everyone’s safety, visitors are now banned from aquariums and zoos due to the governmental shutdown. However have no fear, thanks to Facebook Live and webcam feeds, we can now virtually witness our furry and flippered friends. 

One example is, The Cincinnati Zoo, who host a Facebook Live event every day at 12PM PST, Also note how their website offers past feeds which are archived if someone is not available to view their Facebook Live showing.

For their event The Cincinnati Zoo,, showcases one animal and offers an at-home activity. This is a great option for a busy family with children or a school teacher needing content for their students. 

Content is also provided by The California Academy of Sciences, which shares a live feed of their penguin exhibit at The California Academy of Sciences website also hosts videos and content to help you stay connected with the wonders of our natural world, at

For a broader tour, Smithsonian’s National Zoo hosts a few different webcams, letting people see naked mole rates, lions, giant pandas, and elephants, at They also offer a packet for parents to download to help their kids engage more closely with the animals they see.


For more nature tours The National Park service offers webcams where visitors can view kelp swaying in the currents under the Channel Islands sea with the occasional aquatic creature swimming by. Visitors can also view a bald eagle’s nest cam or an active bear cam, at

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy hosts webcams in a variety of breathtaking sites from around the San Francisco Bay Area, including the beaches of Crissy Field, Fort Funston, Muir Beach, and Ocean Beach, at These photo galleries offered by multiple outlets further immerse visitors in the sites of nature.  

San Francisco

If you are just missing your own home sweet home of San Francisco, there are live webcams that will reconnect you with your beloved neighborhoods.

EarthCam Inc., a leading network of live streaming webcams for tourism and entertainment partnered with the South End Rowing Club and Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel, to host current photos from all around San Francisco. They also offer a live webcam with a ‘city scape’ view for visitors as an option, at

Imagine a day that starts with access to online exhibits of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, followed by a 12PM PST experience with an animal at The Cincinnati Zoo. Next, enjoy a view of giant pandas over lunch and with a full belly you can next take a tour of the Sidney Opera House through CyArk. Conclude the day of discovery with a look into a bald eagles nest, complete with the sound of crickets and peepers to lull you to sleep. 

While we all do our part to flatten the curve our weekends are still a chance to enjoy the wonders of the world, from a new angle.

The Guardsman