“Travel” with virtual toursAug 03, 2020 03:06PM ● By Lauren Berg
Take a virtual tour of the Eiffel Tower!
Experience popular tourist destinations, all from your computer
Summertime is usually the season of travel. We fly to see loved ones, road trip to a favorite vacation spot and enjoy some hard-earned rest and relaxation.
But, as you know, everything has been upended by the pandemic. As cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in various parts of the U.S., Europe has banned travelers from America and many states require 14 days of quarantine upon arrival. Even the places that are open typically have strict policies on face mask wearing and social distancing. Having to constantly worry about your health is very unrelaxing, to say the least.
Luckily, there are safer alternatives. Many iconic destinations offer virtual tours of their popular rides, exhibits and experiences. The best part: no waiting in line!
Here are some virtual tours and travel ideas for trips you can take this summer without leaving your house.
Nothing says “I’m in Paris!” more than a visit to the Eiffel Tower. For a self-guided tour, the tower’s website, guide.toureiffel.paris/en, offers detailed information on the history and culture of the tower and its surrounding features. You can learn more about Gustave Eiffel, the engineer and visionary behind the tower of his namesake, and many other interesting details. Each chapter of this guided tour can be read separately, and in the order you wish. Additionally, a simple Google search offers multiple panoramic videos of the outside and inside of the tower, as if you were really there.
The next stop on your virtual tour to Paris: the Louvre. This art museum, famous for owning the Mona Lisa, offers you the opportunity to view its popular works up close. Go to www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne, where you can explore panoramas of the museum’s Egyptian antiquities, the galleries and even special exhibits such as “Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader.” Simply click on a piece of antiquity or artwork for more information and a closer look, or click and drag to make your way around the rooms. (Note: The virtual tour launches a pop-up. You will need to temporarily unblock pop-ups in order to view the tours.)
Finally, no trip abroad is complete without some local flavor. Consider getting takeout from a local French restaurant such as Le Rouge in Grand Junction. Or, get your pastry fix at bakeries like Daily Bread in Montrose, which offers delicious croissants, cinnamon rolls and more. Don’t forget about French wine! You can find imports at a liquor store, or support French-inspired local wineries such as Varaison Vineyards and Winery in Palisade.
While many summer festivals and fairs were canceled and amusement parks closed, big theme parks offer their own virtual experiences, especially the ones in Florida.
For Universal Studios fans, the website www.xplorit.com/universal-studios-hollywood gives you the chance to “walk” around the park and view Hogwarts both by day and night.
Similarly, put on your Mickey ears and travel around Disney World via www.xplorit.com/orlando-florida, which features beautiful panoramas of Cinderella’s castle, the Animal Kingdom and all parks within the resort. To go on the rides, search “virtual Disney tours” in Google to find countless videos on YouTube of popular attractions from a rider’s perspective.
The beauty of YouTube is that nearly every amusement park ride—from Disney to Six Flags—has a virtual video rider experience. Simply go to www.youtube.com and type into the search bar whichever ride you would like to experience.
Complete the Florida vibe with a homemade version of Disney’s Dole Whip: a sweet cold treat made up of 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream, 4 oz. of pineapple juice and 2 cups of frozen pineapple, blended until smooth. Or, check out local favorite summertime drinks, recommended in our Question of the Month.
Zoos and aquariums
Most zoos and aquariums around the country remain closed. But many, like the Denver Zoo, offer virtual experiences with their animals, and even some live feeds. At the Denver Zoo’s website, www.denverzoo.org/zootoyou, you can see zookeepers showcase interesting animals from a Patagonian Cavy (a mix between a furry rabbit and a deer) to an adorable baby rhino calf.
For live feeds, head on over to the San Diego Zoo’s resource for kids (and the kids at heart) at kids.sandiegozoo.org/videos. They’ve got penguins, tigers and bears, oh my! Likewise, the Monterey Bay Aquarium features live videos of sharks, sea otters and exotic jellyfish, to name a few (found at www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams).