10 National Park Sites to Go on a Virtual Tour While Staying Home

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I have been toying with the idea of posting content related to the current climate of staying home during the COVID 19 pandemic since the crisis started last month. My focus of this blog has always been family focused, education fun and traveling throughout the United States. I thought about posts regarding things to keep kids busy, new skills kids can learn, favorite family board games and books (I might still share that post), and how to avoid boredom. But those posts didn’t seem that original or enlightening. So we’re sticking with what we know best: family travel.

The following list has been compiled by me and my son. We have future subsequent posts coming, with different themes. Up first, and perfectly timed with National Park Week (April 18-26, 2020):

10 National Park Sites Offering Virtual Tours:

1. Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York City: The electronic tour has 18 “stops” with a sidebar map to navigate the island in New York Harbor. There are short Park Ranger film clips, as well as panoramic and close up photos of various parts and elements of the statue, which is as tall as a 22 story building!
Bonus: Kids can complete the Junior Ranger booklet (found here) at home
Find the link here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on the Statue of Liberty and travel tips here.

2. Ellis Island in New York City: The website has a site map in the corner so guests can navigate throughout the complex. Click on a star to hop from location to location. The tools along the bottom of the site include additional historic photographs, aerial shots, “fly through” videos, and background research.
Bonus: Viewers can change the season and see the changes in the landscape.
Find the link here
For the future:  Read our full blog post on Ellis Island and travel tips here

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina: Take an electronic field trip over a half a million acres through TWO states. The Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most popular parks in the country and the virtual field trip gives viewers a chance to view webcams from five popular spots throughout the park, including Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap, and updates on weather conditions.
Bonus: Kids can complete Junior Ranger activities (in celebration of National Parks week) from home.
Find the link
here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on the Great Smoky Mountains and travel tips here.

4. Acadia National Park in Maine: Take a virtual cruise by clicking through 20 slides which take viewers through a trail around Mount Desert Island. You can view ranger interviews, time lapse videos of the tides, and follow along with timelines.  The text that accompanies each photo provides background on the first settlers and earlier inhabitants of the island.
Bonus: The slides are easy for children to navigate on their own and the background audio is calming.
Find the link here
For the future: Read our full blog post on Acadia and travel tips here.

5. Historic Jamestowne in Virginia: This is a great way for younger children to complete creative activities offline too! The JR (Junior Ranger) Kids at Home program includes many activities like coloring downloadable worksheets and learning about artifacts currently in the museum’s collection. 
Bonus: The site uploads new content and activities every Friday. 
Find the link here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on Jamestowne and travel tips here.

6. Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania: The site of the three deadliest days of the Civil War in July of 1863. The virtual tour includes 15 distinct locations throughout the 6,000 acre site. Each location includes additional close up (and dated) photographs, timelines, and anecdotes. Kids will enjoy seeing the contrast between the way the space currently looks contrasted with the 1860s. 
Bonus: You can also take the tour with Google Poly if you have the headset.
Find the link here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on Gettysburg and travel tips here

7. Independence National Historic Park in Pennsylvania: When we researched Liberty Bell, we found a whole tour of popular spots in Philadelphia that almost perfectly mirrors our Top 20 Spots in Philadelphia post here. Begin with a 3 minute overview of the city and then click through short clips of 25 different posts, including the National Historic Park, the Betsy Ross House, National Constitution Center, the Franklin Institute, the Barnes Foundation and more.
Bonus: Each location is narrated with historical background and fun trivia facts. 
Find the link here
For the Future: Read our full blog posts on Philadelphia here and here

8. New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park in Massachusetts: The park encompasses over a dozen New Bedford locations that honor the whaling industry (New Bedford was the whaling capital of the world throughout a large part of the 19th century) as well as Frederick Douglass, who escaped to New Bedford to avoid being sold as a slave. The online tour of the Nathan and Polly Johnson House shares the life of the couple who had a large impact on the anti-slavery movement in the area. There are both video and interactive options.
Bonus: The interactive tour literally walks viewers through each room and allows viewers to click on specific artifacts and learn more. Check out the style of the home and see how many similar objects are in your home.
Find the link here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on New Bedford and travel tips here

9. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York: The 200 acre, 40 room mansion was home to Fredrick Vanderbilt, son of tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt. The grounds are usually open to the public for walking and exploration and the mansion recently completed a three year renovation.  The virtual tour offers 360 views of rooms on the main floor. Pay attention to the details of the drapery, rugs, and bathrooms!
Bonus:  Kids will definitely want to click on the dots on various objects in the kitchen to read letters, written as first hand accounts of the servants.
Find the link here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on the Dutchess County area and travel tips here. (Vanderbilt is #2)

10. Theordore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo, New York: The site was actually the private home of a local lawyer and personal friend of “TR” who rushed to the area after hearing President McKinley had been shot in the area, and was inaugurated inside the home after McKinley died. The virtual tour provides a 3D blueprint of the home and invited guests to choose a room to explore. There are eight stops on the tour that include narrated background information and there are over 50 other spots inside the home that have additional trivia facts and artifacts from Roosevelt’s life.
Bonus: Check out the replica of TR’s White House office and simulated Kinetoscope and films from the 1901 Pan American Exposition.
Find the link here.
For the future: Read our full blog post on the site and travel tips here

Check back next week for another round up of 10 virtual tours of places we have visited. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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4 Comments

  1. What a great idea! I good chance to see someplace I haven’t visited. Great Job and Thank you.

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