Familiar summer destinations, such as museums, national parks, and major cities, may not be easy to travel this summer amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As states report new leaps in Covid-19 affairs, suspend reopening measures and even restore business restrictions, families may be more indecisive to take risks far from home.
Fortunately, a summer stuck at home does not necessarily mean months of boredom. There are many virtual tours, excursions, and activities designed to provide enrichment and entertainment that families can easily get online.
Live historical tours
After the pandemic, schools across the country resorted to distance learning, a constitutional walking tour was supposed to find another way to conduct excursions in Philadelphia. The tour operator began offering live tours through Zoom so students could still see famous historical sites such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
“We found that children and teachers are very responsive to us – they crave content,” said Jonathan Bari, president of the travel company.
According to Bari, thanks to this virtual option, the company was able to provide jobs for its 27 guides and adhere to measures for social distance. He said that students could easily ask guides questions, and even schools in remote parts of the country, such as California, had the opportunity to take excursions and “visit” Philadelphia.
A close-up shot of the Liberty Bell with the Independence Hall in the background at dusk.
Drbueller | Getty images
Virtual school tours initially cost $ 99, but since then the price has been raised to $ 125. Bari plans to continue offering them in the fall. Usually individual group tours cost a student $ 11 for groups of 25 or more people.
On July 1, the Constitutional Walking Tour also reloaded its live tours and launched a $ 17.99 app that travelers can use to make their own socially-oriented visit to Philadelphia. However, Bari said the company still plans to provide a virtual tour this summer for families who cannot travel yet, and is working on a price for this offer.
“I think this is a fantastic option for children, parents and families who just want to do something a little different, given the circumstances,” Bari said.
Visiting of museum
Families can also access famous art online. Although the Art Institute of Chicago is temporarily closed, it offers many ways families can virtually visit the museum. To make this even easier, a new section has appeared on its website on how to access your works via the Internet.
“We have doubled our interest in digital technology since we closed in March,” said Michael Neal, executive director of design at the museum.
Immediately after closing, the museum released a free digital platform that provides guided tours of works of art using 360-degree technology, which allows art lovers to explore objects such as the Egyptian mummy mask, West African headgear, and Viking sword. The project was under development before the pandemic, but Neo said that now it is more relevant than ever.
“Not being able to see art in person is a great way to get students involved at home,” Neal said.
According to Neil, in the days preceding the closure of the Art Institute, the cinematographer of the museum tried to capture the footage of his galleries. These shots became the basis of a free series of videos about the museum’s most iconic works, entitled The Essentials Tour, which is now available on the museum’s YouTube channel.
“Videos are short portions of art history, and it looks like 101 lessons in just a couple of minutes,” Neo said.
The museum has also posted a free video tour of its new El Greco exhibition, using footage collected the day before the closure of the Institute of Arts, and is planning a new video series in which employees discuss their favorite works of art. The museum even sent microphones to employees so that they could safely record their interviews at home.
“With limited access to galleries and staff, we had to be really creative and resourceful in creating content,” Neo said.
For young art lovers, the museum offers the JourneyMaker feature, which allows children to personalize their virtual tour and choose the art that they are interested in viewing. The Art Institute also offers other free downloadable activities inspired by its artwork, such as coloring books, crosswords, and creative tips.
In addition to these options, the museum offers over 54,000 works of art in a public format that can be downloaded free of charge, according to Neault. Along with viewing images and descriptions of famous works by Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and other artists, parents and teachers can translate art into action and lesson plans.
“You could even get children to download artwork and oversee their own exhibit at home,” Neo said.
Visit national parks online
Although U.S. national parks could be holiday destinations this summer, some families may still have concerns about how to get to them far. The National Park Foundation, an official charity of the National Park Service, is working to promote digital offers for parks during a pandemic.
“People have been and still cannot wait to go to the parks, whether it’s local, state, national or other open spaces, simply because we have this important connection, as people with nature,” said Will President and CEO Shafrot.
As part of the many virtual park options, NPF talked about free video tours of the Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and the Channel Islands in California, which were prepared before the pandemic. Schafort also mentioned the availability of real-time free videos on the network, such as bear cameras from the Kathmai National Park and Alaska Nature Reserve, which allow people to view wildlife in real time.
Double catch by two brown bears from Kathmai National Park catching salmon in Brooks Falls.
Mike Lyvers | Getty images
In addition to parks, there are also online resources related to historical sites in the national park system. A video tour of the Alexander Hamilton Grunge National Memorial is available, which is located in New York and is still temporarily closed to contain the spread of Covid-19. Interest in the home of the founding father may increase after the arrival of Hamilton, July 3, by Lin-Manuel Miranda at Disney +.
For young Parkgoers, there is also the National Park Service Junior Ranger program, which has the opportunity to explore national parks online and offers activities that children can perform at home.
However, despite the fact that interest in these online offers has increased, Shafrot said that a personal trip to the national park is possible this summer. If the family does not dare to travel long distances to reach iconic places such as Yellowstone National Park, they can find another option nearby.
“Remember that there are 419 national parks,” Shafrot said. “So there are many who are probably much closer to where most people live than they think.”
Both during the school year and in the summer, Discovery Education offers a range of virtual enrichment options that have generated even greater interest during the pandemic.
Among the most popular opportunities of the educational company are virtual excursions to places such as the headquarters of the National Basketball Association and the Canadian tundra for the annual migration of polar bears. After watching pre-recorded videos, students can complete the learning activities associated with the virtual trip.
“This is an opportunity to really take children outside the walls, wherever they are, to meet people and gain experiences that they would not have otherwise,” said Stephen Wakefield, vice president of public relations.
According to Lance Rougeau, vice president of learning communities at the company and a former public school teacher, Discovery Education has been offering virtual tours for nearly 15 years, along with other digital offerings, for nearly 15 years, and works with about half of US school districts. However, he said virtual field trips were of particular importance during the pandemic.
“During the school year, teachers use them to step outside the walls of the classroom, but now it’s like going out of the apartment,” said Rougeau.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the company has expanded its digital offerings and recently launched its Summer of Learning initiative, which includes resources such as audio books, podcasts, and activities students can use to continue their studies when they’re free to study.
Although many of Discovery Education’s offerings are paid for and designed for students to access through school, the company has also made some of its training activities available to everyone on the Internet. Daily DE is an educational resource designed for parents and contains six-week lesson plans that they can use for students in grades K through 12. Plans include virtual field trips, science experiments, written tips, and other learning activities.
Activities are designed to help children stay in touch with learning indefinitely.
“This is a simple, easy, fun way to keep the students mind while it’s a really weird summer for all of us,” said Wakefield.