With the international crisis regarding COVID-19, also referred to as Coronavirus, visitors may be cancelling or rescheduling upcoming travel plans and staying home.
While people are self-isolating and social distancing, many museums, historic sites and other tourism destinations are offering virtual options for visitors to explore and learn.
Virginia Humanities has produced more than 60 VR tours of historic Virginia sites for its Encyclopedia Virginia.
Mount Vernon will continue its mission to educate people around the world through its robust digital presence. The historic site will provide digital tours of the mansion through mountvernon.org/virtualtour. The Washington Library has also prepared digital resources for students and their parents will be working with its network of teachers nationwide to support their educational efforts. These resources can be accessed at mountvernon.org/digital. Mount Vernon’s YouTube channel also features a livestream of the estate’s newborn lambs.
Monticello hosts a number of online exhibits including “The Declaration Around the World,” “The Life of Sally Hemings,” and “Paradox of Liberty: Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello,” among many others. Users can also download the Slavery at Monticello: Life and Work on Mulberry Row app for free.
James Madison’s Montpelier has publicly accessible blog posts, websites, podcasts, and social media posts for visitors to enjoy. Access to podcasts and video series can be found on the site’s YouTube page. Those interested in the research, history, archaeology, and collecting at Montpelier can visit the Digital Doorway for a wealth of information at digitaldoorway.montpelier.org.
Colonial Williamsburg is adding content to its Explore From Home website from the people who bring history to life. Resources include guides for teachers, quizzes and puzzles for students, interactive timeline, pages for exploring art collections, and printable coloring sheets from The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, as well as libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world.
The Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond will be offering free online video content, webinars, student learning resources, and virtual tours at VirginiaHistory.org/AtHome.
Learn about the life and legacy of America’s fifth president with a virtual tour of The James Monroe Museum.
The Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown have a variety of virtual resources available for everyone at home. Take a virtual tour of the museums with mobile apps, experience the stories of America’s earliest adventures with the museum’s Video Library, and enhance history with interactive digital learning experiences like the Legacy Wall and the “How Revolutionary Are You?” quiz.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol put together a video series to give viewers an inside look at the museum. Videos include behind-the-scenes looks at stories told throughout the Museum, as well as a closer look at some of the unique instruments of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, and fun crafts and activities parents can do with their kids while at home.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle has a virtual tour and numerous distance learning opportunities. The rich, interactive virtual environment will serve as the gateway for Marines and visitors to see the museum from the comfort of their homes. The museum’s online distance learning programs engage audiences with the history of the United States Marine Corps. Programs include a plethora of virtual learning experiences and subject matter for people to learn important and interesting topics related to the Marine Corps. Take the virtual tour at virtualusmcmuseum.com and access the distance learning programs at usmcmuseum.com/distance-learning.html.
The Chrysler Museum of Art located in Norfolk’s NEON Arts District features 50 galleries, 30,000 objects and a world-renowned glass collection. Viewers can take a virtual tour through the galleries as well as explore the museum’s Digital Collections featuring European and American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts and works from African, ancient Egyptian, Pre-Columbian, Islamic and Asian cultures.
Join the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk for a Virtual Voyage every day at 2 p.m. (March 16 – 30, 2020) on its Facebook page. Visitors can go behind the scenes, tour the zoo, and check in on their favorite animals. The zoo’s Virtual Voyage website also offers augmented reality tours, printable activity sheets, a YouTube video series, and more.
Take a virtual walking tour of historic Fincastle in Botetourt County with over 50 individual “stops,” each complete with a picture and background about the location.
The Kids Square Children’s Museum in Roanoke will go live on Facebook at least once a day during the week until reopening. They’ll be doing everything from science experiments to book reading. Visitors joining the livestream have the chance to win one of the items that Kids Square is playing with that day.
The Blue Ridge Institute and Museum in Ferrum offers the following online exhibits for individuals to learn more about folk heritage in the Blue Ridge region.
- Full Throttle: Racing and Rodding in Southwest and Central Virginia
- Moonshine: Blue Ridge Style
- Deathly Lyrics: Songs of Virginia Tragedies
- Earthenware Along the Great Road in Virginia and Tennessee
The Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke has images and background information on nearly every item in the rail, road, air, and ship collections. Collections are separated by category and can be accessed here.
The William King Museum of Art in Abingdon will be broadcasting live via Facebook every Tuesday and Thursday at 2 p.m. Videos will include tours of the galleries, insider looks at collections, family-friendly art projects, and live art demos.
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach will provide entertaining, educational content to fans including live streams, video footage, crafts for kids, and behind the scenes peeks on its website and social media channels.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond is sharing “Virtual Visits” on its Facebook page as well as putting resources for learning (including activities for kids) and ideas for relaxation and mental health on its website lewisginter.org.
Take a virtual tour around Virginia Beach’s cultural enclave by using this Google Mural Map to explore the ViBe Creative District on a virtual, self-guided mural tour. Click on the map icons to find information about the artists, artworks and locations, along with multiple images of the artwork and video links of murals created during the last two years of the ViBe Mural Festival.
The Barter Theatre in Abingdon is working to offer its patrons the ability to stream productions from home. The production of “Peter Pan” that was originally scheduled to open on April 7 will be online to patrons as well as access special bonus features. The theatre will also be providing coordinating educator resources, including lesson plans and a study guide. More information can be found here: bartertheatre.com/barter-theatre-on-demand
The City of Alexandria created a new web hub called ALX at Home, which brings residents and nearby visitors their favorite Alexandria restaurants, shops and attractions to the comfort of their own home. Features include:
- 50+ restaurant and 15 retail deals and offerings
- Attraction offerings such as virtual tours and a “Ride it Out” bike rental program from Unlimited Biking.
- Cocktail Corner for Happy Hour at home with instructional videos from The Hour boutique.
- Puppy Love, bringing a daily dose of cuteness from Alexandria’s four-legged friends.
Learn about the life and legacy of America’s fifth president with a virtual tour of The James Monroe Museum.
Take a virtual tour of the new location of the Spotsylvania Museum, learn about African American History in Spotsylvania County with the curators of the John J. Wright Museum or follow the African American Heritage GIS Tour, learn about the Revolutionary War with virtual tours of several of the area battlefields and more.
Kings Dominion is giving visitors the opportunity to digitally discover the excitement and thrill that the park has to offer from the comfort of their own homes. Guests can take a virtual ride on one of the park’s world-class roller coasters by visiting the Kings Dominion YouTube channel and watching the famous coasters in action from their own vantage point.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge virtual event calendar features local bars and restaurants offering special virtual classes & tastings, music venues & breweries streaming live music, and local museums providing special tours & activities.
Hampton attractions are offering virtual tours so you can explore the city from home.
From virtual attraction tours, fitness and wellness classes to live music and performing arts experiences there are endless virtual entertainment options in Prince William.
Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation is offering Virtual Tours of various historic sites & DIY craft projects.
The Omni Homestead Resort’s podcast, Beyond the Tower offers an insider’s look into one of America’s most iconic resorts. From historical anecdotes to one-of-a-kind experiences, Beyond the Tower includes topics from the history of the resort and golf to the Garth Newel Music Center and the resort’s partnership with a local farmer. Each episode begins and ends with “Welcome to My Homestead,” an original composition from David Hill, a native of Roanoke, Virginia and one of the resort’s most popular musicians.
For those interested in historic moments of Virginia, listen to the Following Harriet podcast, brought to you by Virginia is for Lovers and INGREDIENT. Following Harriet takes a closer look at the life of one of the bravest and most extraordinary women in our country’s history. It also puts Harriet in a broader context, examining the 19th Century experience of African Americans, especially in Virginia.
Do you know of any other online options that attractions are providing? Let us know in the comments below.
Here’s an aerial tour of Woodstock, VA
And an aerial virtual tour of Strasburg, VA
Thank you very much! Great to see the virtual tours! It is all fantastic!
Shelia S. Harrison
Nauticus and the Battleship Wisconsin also offers a Virtual Adventure live on Facebook Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. Each adventure provides a fun and exciting informal learning experience that focuses on our connection to the maritime world.
The Virginia Beach History Museums are offering Virtual Tours of the Francis Land House and the Thoroughgood House: https://www.wtkr.com/news/virginia-beach-history-museums-offering-virtual-tour-of-two-historic-homes
This is an outstanding website to go to while we all are stuck at home during the spread of this virus. This is something for all ages to check out.
Marilyn La Ronde
I’ve already called and said the following. . If this all works for me–I’m a clutch with computers–and for all the 32 people I’ve forwarded it to,this is one grand, marvelous gift. I’ve been on this email list a long time and I’ve loved my visits to the beautiful state of VA.
At my age, I probably won’t be there again, but am delighted I never missed it.
Congratulations and thanks to the people who did this. .
Ruth B Lefevre
One place not mentioned is the Booker T Washington National Monument. The owner of that plantation, James Burroughs, was my great uncle, and it would be nice to have a virtual tour for my kids and grandkids to watch.