One of the greater downsides of this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the isolation, the boredom.

Whether it’s because we don’t get to interact with work buddies or friends, or because geography has us far from loved ones, or because our grandchildren can’t visit, or because we’re still getting used to widowhood … we feel isolated. We’re stuck within our own walls.

But what if you could break out of those walls? What if you filled this time with exciting exploration? And what if you did it virtually?

And then, what if you shared your experiences with your loved ones by the device of your choice? (Use FaceTime for Apple, Google Hangouts and Duo for Android, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Zoom or others.) Start today.

outdoors

Explore the outdoors

If we can’t spend the time we’d like outdoors, what if we travel virtually to places we might have on our bucket lists? And check out nature in the process?

US National Parks. Take a trip to a National Park from wherever you are! Many national park sites across the country offer digital tours and experiences that you can access anytime, anywhere.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. UNESCO preserves and promotes the world’s most unique cultural sites. UNESCO’s website lists nearly a thousand of them. Pick any country and wander

Trek the world. The Google Map Treks website covers such diversity: the Amazon, Galapagos, Grand Canyon, Venice and more. Don’t worry about having the right gear. Just pour a cup of coffee and start trekking.

BBC Earth. BBC Earth has more than a decade of filming nature around the world. Whether you watch the previews of its many shows  or explore through the BBC Earth Youtube platform, it’s all stunning.

Wet animals. California’s Monterrey Bay Aquarium has closed its doors for now. But what about getting ‘outside’ by watching its ten online live cams: jellyfish, otters and penguins, oh my! Click here to watch.

symphony

Enjoy new music

What a great time to get away from our regular playlists, and discover something new!

Silkroad. Silkroad collective‘s virtual concert mini-series brings innovative music from around the world, also available on Youtube.

Tiny Desk Playlists. The best of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk concert series.  Quirky office-based concerts, now with home-based additions.

BSO at Home. Boston Symphony Orchestra streams concerts, plus storytelling for kids from Circle Round.

Books

Something to read or watch

It’s time for something eclectic to take your mind off the day-to-day news.

Literary Hub. Browse Lit Hub for literary samplers, or catch podcasts and audiobooks at Lit Hub Radio.

Filmdoo. A UK-based video-on-demand platform specializes in independent and world cinema from 125 countries. Filmdoo Movies in English or 17 other languages.

Best of online theater and dance. From The Guardian, here are the hottest front-room seats to catch new plays or classics.

Audible for free. While school is closed, Audible is open and free. Head to the literary classics to hear some old favorites. Short films al from over 125 countries.

opera

Get culture

If we’re at home, we may as well go to the finest venues for wonderful ballet, art, opera and more. Going online is the perfect way to bridge the miles – and the costs.

The Metropolitan Opera. New York’s Met has closed for the season but is streaming performances while closed. Check its schedule.

Museums of the World. Take virtual tours of the world’s most spectacular museums, from London to Kyoto … to Russia’s Bolshoi. Google Arts & Culture takes you there, in an instant, but you can get lost for hours.

The Louvre in Paris. Ever dream of seeing the Mona Lisa without the crowds? Here’s how. And explore more of France while you’re at it.

 

cooking

Learn something new

Before the pandemic, most of us were too caught up in our ‘busyness’ to follow through on those dreams of ‘Someday I’d like to learn to …’ Online learning makes it convenient and free.

FutureLearn. Free online short courses from modern to classic subjects: 478 courses to choose from.

The (cooking) world is your oyster. Whether it’s Rick Bayless, Julia Child, Marcus Samuelsson or the Great British Bake Show, WTTW-PBS opens a world of how-to cooking with video episodes of many of its best shows.

Oprah & Deepak. Meditate for free for 21 days: #HopeGoesGlobal.

Open Culture. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a language. Now’s your chance.

One part of ‘staying safe’ during a pandemic is about staying virus-free. The other is keeping our mind, heart and soul in a good place. We hope these little escapes help you do that! Do you have a favorite virtual activity you’ve discovered? Share it with us below.

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