5 fun and educational ways to pass time during ‘Stay at Home’ order

Professor Laurie Santos
Professor Laurie Santos instructs students online in the Coursera online class “The Science of Well-Being” offered by Yale University. Valley News/Courtesy photo

I’m obeying California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order issued Thursday, March 19, but thanks to a plethora of virtual tours online, I’ve avoided boredom by traveling from Disneyland to France all in the comfort of my own home.

As I work to think outside the box to keep the boredom at bay, I realized that from stay at home mothers to working professionals on furlough, we are all looking to find interesting things to do with our spare time.

So in the interest of those looking to fill their time, here are my top 5 favorite online tours.

Visit Disneyland.

Pirates of the Caribbean
This screenshot shows just one of many depictions of a pirate’s life in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean virtual tour of the ride. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Who wouldn’t enjoy spending a day at the happiest place on earth? Once again, the Disney Company leads the pack by sharing virtual versions of its rides online. From the beginning of the line to the end of the ride, Disneyland’s virtual tours, just like the real parks, are fun for the entire family. Pro tip: turn off the lights, stream to a big screen and it’s almost like actually being there. Just do a search on https://www.youtube.com for a full listing of rides.

Learn something new.

Coursera has hundreds of free classes online. From the University of Michigan to Stanford University and University of California Irvine, hundreds of universities and colleges are offering anyone with an internet connection and a desire to learn the opportunity to gain a little knowledge. I’m currently enrolled in The Science of Well-Being offered by Yale University. Pro tip: for $49, you can get a certificate of completion to share or hang on your wall. Visit https://www.coursera.org for their course offerings.

Visit a museum.

The Louvre
This screenshot shows a scene from the Louvre’s virtual tour of the moat. Valley News/Courtesy photo

From the Louvre to the National Gallery of Art to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, there are hundreds of museums offering online tours. Pro tip: be sure to tour the remains of the Louvre’s moat for a unique look back into medieval times. Visit https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne for tours of the Louvre.

Head to the Zoo.

panda bear
One of the giant pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington finds a snack in this screen shot from the zoo’s giant panda webcam. Valley News/Courtesy photo
Koala at San Diego Zoo
A koala naps in full view of the koala camera at San Diego Zoo in this screen shot. Valley News/Courtesy photo

For years, zoos around the world have offered webcams giving a behind the scenes and up close and personal look at the animals housed on their properties. I could watch the giant panda cam at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington for hours. Also see the webcams at the San Diego Zoo for hours of animal entertainment. Pro tip: some animals are nocturnal so it’s best to watch them in the evening hours. Side bonus, have the children do some research on the animals they are interested in to determine the best time to watch. Visit https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams.

Visit a national park.

Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful erupts from behind the trees at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in this screen shot from the park’s webcam taken. Valley News/Courtesy photo
Zion National Park
Zion National Park’s webcam at Temples and Towers of the Virgin at the park headquarters in Zion Canyon and shows one of the park’s most famous views, The Temples and Towers of the Virgin, in this screen shot. Valley News/Courtesy photo

There is nothing better than the majesty of wide-open spaces and national parks are the cream of the crop when it comes to nature. My favorite has to be Yellowstone’s upper geyser basin featuring Old Faithful. Also check out Zion National Park’s Temples and Towers of the Virgin webcam located at park headquarters showing one of the park’s most famous views. Pro tip: watch at dusk or dawn for the best chance to view the more elusive wildlife.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.