Virtual Tour Experiences

Last updated on 06/15/2020

Virtual Tour Experiences Guide

As we practice social distancing, opportunities for travel and new experiences can feel limited. However, with a little creativity and help from technology, you can travel almost anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye. Travel isn’t always physical, and virtually exploring the wonders of our world is a great way to spend some quality time at home.

What is a Virtual Tour?

A virtual tour allows users to experience an existing location through the use of images, videos, or other multimedia. It often provides a first-person perspective and creates a realistic experience that can be enjoyed from any place with a Wi-Fi connection.

The Best Virtual Tours

Within this article, we explore numerous virtual tour options you can enjoy from the comfort of your living room. We can see below how “virtual tours” of popular attractions have seen a massive increase in Google searches as a result of social distancing. By inputting each attraction (and “virtual tour” succeeding it) into Google Keyword Planner we found the number of searches for each month from March 2019 to March 2020. Then we subtracted the total number of searches for March 2020 (when social distancing became a global phenomenon) by the total number of searches for February 2020, to assess the increase due to social distancing.

We have ranked virtual tours by their increase in demand due to social distancing measures. You can see a full table below, as well as a more detailed look into the specific virtual tours for zoos, art galleries, families, adventure, landmarks and tours made by Google.

Most Popular Types of Virtual Tours Infographic

The Best Zoo Virtual Tours

1. San Diego Zoo Virtual Tour

The San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,500 animals from 650 species. They are now offering live cameras to see your favorite animals 24/7.

What You Can See: Apes, Baboons, Condors, Elephants, Giraffes, Koalas, Owls, Pandas, Penguins, Polar Bears and Tigers. You can also opt to view short videos on a wider range of species.

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $58

Net Savings: $58

Website: https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/video

2. Houston Zoo Virtual Tour

The Houston Zoo spans over 55 acres and houses over 6,000 animals from 900 species. It has over 2.1 million visitors each year and is the second most visited zoo in the United States. You can now view some of your favourite animals online via webcam.

What You Can See: Giraffe Feeding, Gorilla Habitats, Elephant Yards, Leafcutter Ants, Rhino Yards, Chimps and Flamingos

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $19.95

Net Savings: $19.95

Website: https://www.houstonzoo.org/explore/webcams/

3. Atlanta Zoo Virtual Tour

Atlanta Zoo is one of only three zoos in the United States housing pandas. Now you can still see the rolly polly adventures of your favourite bear despite social distancing measures!

What You Can See: 24/7 Giant Pandas via PandaCam

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $24.99

Net Savings: $24.99

Website: https://zooatlanta.org/panda-cam/

4. Georgia Aquarium Virtual Tour

Georgia Aquarium showcases hundreds of species and thousands of animals in seven major galleries, all of which reside in 10 million gallons of fresh and saltwater. It was known as the largest aquarium in the world until 2012, when it was overtaken by Marine Life Park in Singapore and the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in China. Live streams are now being offered!

What You Can See: Beluga Whales, Gators, Jellyfish, Underwater Puffins, Southern Sea Otters, African Penguins, California Sea Lions, Piranhas

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $20.99

Net Savings: $20.99

Website: https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/southern-sea-otter-webcam/

5. Monterey Bay Aquarium Virtual Tour

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit organization that focuses mainly on marine habitats of Monterey Bay. Like others, it too is offering a virtual tour via webcam.

What You Can See: Boats, Otters and Birds of Monterey Bay in real time, as well as Sharks, African Penguins, Tuna, Turtles, Sardines, Moon Jellyfish and Tropical Fish via multiple different cameras.

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $49.95

Net Savings: $49.95

Website: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

6. The New England Aquarium Virtual Tour

Located in Boston, this popular aquarium hosts more than 1.3 million visitors each year. While there are currently no live cameras, they offer daily virtual tour presentations at 11 AM (Eastern Standard Time). Furthermore, users can participate in educational activities from home including “Fish vs Marine Mammal Identification” and “Shark Diet Memory Match” – a matchmaking card game. These interactive additions make the virtual tour perfect for students and families.

What You Can See: Marine research from professional scientists and various marine feeding.

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $31

Net Savings: $31

Website: https://www.neaq.org/visit/at-home-events-and-activities/

The Best Art Gallery Virtual Tours

1. The Guggenheim Virtual Tour

The Guggenheim Museum is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in New York City, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and named after Solomon R. Guggenheim. The museum is particularly popular with admirers of Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. The Guggenheim has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to bring priceless art to your living room.

What You Can See: Artwork by Picasso, Kandinsky, Miro and Paul Klee to name a few.

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $25

Net Savings: $25

Website: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/solomon-r-guggenheim-museum

2. The London National Gallery Virtual Tour

London’s National Gallery is located in the historic Trafalgar Square region of London and there are over 2,300 paintings from the 3rd century to 1900. The gallery is a timeless classic full of European art, masterpiece by masterpiece. They are another notable inclusion within the Google Arts & Culture virtual tour project.

What You Can See: Paintings by van Eyck, Turner, Van Gough, Velzáquez, Monet and many more

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $0

Net Savings: $0

Website: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-national-gallery-london?hl=en

3. The Louvre Virtual Tour

Although originally built as a fortress to defend Paris from attack via the Seine, now The Louvre Museum is the largest art gallery in the world. The Louvre is the home to arguably the most coveted piece of art in the world, The Mona Lisa. They are offering perhaps a slightly more in-depth tour independent of Google’s partnership.

What You Can See: Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, Galerie d’Apollon and Exhibitions in the Petit Galerie (featuring Delacroix, Rembrandt and Tinteretto).

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): 15 euros or approx. $16.38

Net Savings: $16.38

Website: https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne

4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Virtual Tour

Often referred to simply as “The Met”, it is also the largest museum in the United States. There are over 2 million pieces of art spanning over numerous rooms and locations.

Although not directly set up as a result of social distancing, The Met 360° Project is worth checking out, it allows users to experience the museum’s space all from the comfort of your living room!

What You Can See: The Met Cloisters, The Temple of Dendur, The Great Hall, The Met Breuer, The Charles Engelhard Court and Arms and Armor Galleries

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $25

Net Savings: $25

Website: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/met-360-project

The Best Adventure Virtual Tours

1. Mountaineering in The Kenai Fjords, Alaska

Established in 1980, the park covers 669,984 acres on the Kenai Peninsula. Known for its pristine beauty, tourists can now descend into the icy crevasse online thanks to 360 degree interactivity. This is yet another Google Arts & Culture partnership.

What You Can See: An icy crevasse with audio from educational park rangers

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $160

Net Savings: $160

Website: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/kenai-fjords/exit-glacier-tour

2. Snorkel in The Dry Tortugas, Florida Keys

The Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most Southern points in the United States. It was once home to a civil war era fort with 2,000 residents, now it is protected by park rangers as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Fort Jefferson is less than 1% of the National Park, the remaining 99% is one of the most diverse underwater ecosystems in the world. Team up with park rangers and scuba dive to explore it in all its beauty thanks to the Google Arts & Culture: National Parks project!

What You Can See: An array of biodiversity in pristine water

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): Approx. $180

Net Savings: $180

Website: https://artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/dry-tortugas/near-little-africa-tour

3. Scuba Dive in The U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries

A National Marine Sanctuary is a marine area that receives special protection under the United States Government. As a result, tours can often be slightly limited. However, virtual dives are now possible across a range of locations.

What You Can See: Diverse wildlife and habitats in Thunder Bay, Stellwagen Bank, Olympic Coast, Monterey Bay, Gray’s Reef, Flower Garden Banks, Florida Keys and American Samoa

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): N/A

Net Savings: N/A

Website: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/vr/

The Best Family Virtual Tours

1. Disney World Virtual Tour

Disney World Orlando have teamed up with Visit Orlando to offer an interactive look into their world-famous resort. Perfect for entertaining small children who are getting frustrated with social distancing!

What You Can See: Magic Kingdom Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney Springs and Epcot Center

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): Approx. $116

Net Savings: $116

Website: https://www.visitorlando.com/en/things-to-do/virtual-tours/walt-disney-world-resort

2. Universal Studios Virtual Tour

Another Orlando attraction, Universal Studios attractions millions of film buffs each year. Thanks to 360-degree technology, you can still experience the top event destinations.

What You Can See: Citywalk Cinemas, Antojitos Comida Mexicana, VIVO, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, The Transformers Ride and more

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): $123

Net Savings: $123

Website: https://www.universalhollywoodevents.com/planner-tools/virtual-tours/

3. SeaWorld Virtual Tour

SeaWorld have also teamed up with Visit Orlando and offer a unique 3D experience of the entire Orlando resort.

What You Can See: Discovery Cove, Mako Rollercoaster, The Waterfront, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin and Ride Manta

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): Approx. $99

Net Savings: $99

Website: https://www.visitorlando.com/en/things-to-do/virtual-tours/seaworld-orlando

4. The Legoland Hotel Virtual Tour

Alternatively, you can now pretend to check into the Legoland Hotel with your family, admiring the LEGO features throughout.

What You Can See: LEGO Castle Play Area, The Giant LEGO Bricks Pit

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): Approx. $99 per night (package with Legoland resort)

Net Savings: $99+

Website: https://www.visitorlando.com/en/things-to-do/virtual-tours/legoland-florida-resort

Be sure to read our family-friendly virtual tours article for even more travel inspiration.

The Best Landmark Virtual Tours

1. The Great Wall of China Virtual Tour

Recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history, the Great Wall of China stretches over 21,000 km. The China Guide has produced a virtual tour from Jinshanling to Simatai, which allows you to experience it online during these difficult times.

What You Can See: A 360-degree view from The Great Wall of China (Jinshanling to Simatai)

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): 40 yuan or approx. $6

Net Savings: $6

Website: https://www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china

2. The Blarney Castle Virtual Tour

The Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold in Blarney near Cork, Ireland. It is one of the most famous attractions in Ireland and houses the “Blarney stone” a stone kissed by tourists to “get the gift of the gab.” Virtual Visit Tours are offering a unique opportunity to visit the castle with complete VR immersion for those with headsets. Others can marvel at the castle’s wonders through 360-degree technology.

What You Can See: The Poison Gardens, The Family Room, The Castle Interior, Rock Close and Fern Garden

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): 16 euros or approx. $18

Net Savings: $18

Website: https://www.virtualvisittours.com/blarney-castle/

3. Cliffs of Moher Virtual Tour

Another popular Irish attraction, this time located in County Clare, The Cliffs of Moher is known to be a site of ancient Irish legends. Through their virtual tour, we are able to take in the atmosphere and enjoy the blissful landscape.

What You Can See: Main Viewing Area, O’Briens Tower Base, O’Briens Tower Top View, Visitors Center, Second Viewing Area, Third Viewing Area, Twilight Views of The Cliffs

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): 6 euros or approx. $7

Net Savings: $7

Website: https://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/virtual-visit-tour/

4. Eiffel Tower Virtual Tour

One of the most popular tourist attractions undoubtedly comes with crowds disturbing your experience. In fact the Eiffel Tower in Paris receives well over 7 million visitors a year. Enter the virtual tour.

What You Can See: A 360-degree view on Paris from the upper floor on the Eiffel Tower

Cost of Virtual Tour: Free

Cost of Actual Tour (Adult): 7 euros or approx. $8

Net Savings: $8

Website: https://artsandculture.google.com/story/tour-the-eiffel-tower/9AURIW5QlJPr1Q?hl=en

The Best Google Virtual Tours

While we have previously highlighted the Google Arts & Culture project, which is a partnership of over 2,500 museums and galleries from around the world, there are a few other notable mentions.

1. Google Arts Project: Street Art

A sub-section of the wider Google Arts & Culture project, this fantastic interactive map offers a dive into the greatest street art on offer across the world. While you can also engage with a “Surprise Me” feature to uncover lesser known gems.

What You Can See: Artwork by Banksy, Vhils, Roa, C215, Mentalgassi and every famous and up-and-coming artist you can think of!

In Case You Miss It: Take the audio tours to hear real life stories behind the art.

Website: https://streetart.withgoogle.com/en/world-collection

2. Google’s Heritage on the Edge

A unique virtual experience that showcases a handful of UNESCO World Heritage site using 3D maps. This is particularly special because the featured sites are currently threatened by climate change and the goal of this interactive experience is to digitally preserve them. Not only are the sites beautiful to see but the entire experience provides education about the history, heritage, protection, and conservation efforts of these landmarks.

What You Can See: Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Edinburgh (Scotland), Bagerhat (Bangladesh), Kilwa Kisiwani (Tanzania), Chan Chan (Peru).

In Case You Miss It: Explore each under threat site in 3D, then listen to the 60-second history overview and the local voices on why the sites are important.

Website: https://artsandculture.google.com/project/heritage-on-the-edge

3. Google & NASA's "Access to Mars"

Finally, for those with extreme wanderlust we wanted to find a tour that was out of this world (quite literally) to Mars! While actual travel to the red planet may not yet be possible for our travellers, NASA has partnered with Google to offer a tour of a 3D replica of the Martian surface as recorded by the Curiosity rover.

What You Can See: A 3D replica of what Curiosity imaged during its visit, complete with 360-degree interactivity. The exploration expands over 14.1km and includes 4 regions: The Landing Site, Pahrump Hills, Marias Pass and The Murray Buttes.

In Case You Miss It: Engage with each section’s icons to enhance your educational exploration.

Website: https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/

With travel, your possibilities for adventure are endless, and with technology, there truly is no limit to where you can go in your pajamas.