Although many of us are stuck home, it doesn’t mean that we can’t travel virtually. From really adorable animal interactions like feeding a sloth to touring a museum’s art collection virtually, these Midwest attractions let viewers learn while having fun all from the comfort of your home. If these attractions pique your interest, I’ve included links to learn more about the attraction or destination to help plan for a future trip. (Because after this we will all NEED to get out and explore!) So what are you waiting for? Here are a few Midwest travel virtual experiences to take with the family.
Keep checking back — I’ll be adding more as I find them. Am I missing your favorite attraction that has gone “virtual”?
If you love penguins roaming around, then you’ll love the Shedd’s daily Facebook videos. Not only can you see many of their animals, but you can learn about them as well.
Learning never ends at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Sign up for the emails where they’ll bring you a day’s worth of nature and science facts, activities, guiding questions to ask your kids, and more. They even have Facebook live events and YouTube videos.
Plan later: Read all about our Family Guide to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. We loved it so much that we even bought a membership which includes access to over 300+ other museums!
Plan later: My future paleontologist absolutely loves this museum especially when they have their Burpee Paleofest, one of the best dinosaur events we have been to!
Every weekday at 11:00 a.m. CST join Brookfield Zoo for their #BringtheZooToYou Facebook Live featuring one of their animals as well as plenty of educational, informative insight from one of their Animal Care Specialists. The video will be saved afterward on Facebook as well as on their YouTube channel.
Plan later: Brookfield Zoo is our favorite zoo in the Chicago area. They always have tons of fun temporary exhibits and events including a fun Lego safari of animals last summer or Boo at the Zoo!
Virtual options include learning resources, educational videos on YouTube as well as their blog. Want to chat with a dinosaur? They have that option! Check their Facebook page for videos with scientists, behind-the-scenes looks at the Museum, or just watching a dinosaur roam around. Entertainment at its best!
Plan later: Read all about Sue, the T. Rex’s new home at The Field Museum.
The Oriental Institute Museum is totally underrated! The collection they have is fabulous and you are able to take a virtual tour.
Plan later: Check out this great post from Wandering Educations about the Oriental Institute Museum.
Get your daily dose of art by connecting virtually with the Art Institute. Scope out their collection, examine pieces of their collection , learn more using audio tours, or even tour the museum through Google Arts & Culture.
Tip: Looking for more things to do in Chicago? Chicago Parent has a great resource on small businesses going virtual!
Plan later: Traveling Mamas shares 5 reasons why you’ll geek out about going to Springfield. We are planning a future trip to Springfield and this is perfect!
The largest children’s museum in the world delivers their museum to you with a website full of videos on science experiments, storytime, exercise, and so much more! science museum will host science experiments. They also have more fun on their Facebook page.
Plan later: I can’t say enough good things about The Children’s Museum. Indy local Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice has a wonderful post with tips on how to enjoy the world’s largest children’s museum. Crystal from Exploration America loved her visit to the museum and included it as her favorite destination from last year.
The zoo is #BringingtheZootoYou with an insider’s look each day at their animals & care staff on their Facebook page. You can also take a virtual tour of the grounds.
Plan later: Ready for your Indianapolis trip? Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice shares her favorite Indy attractions including the Indianapolis Zoo!
The Great Plains Nature Center knocks it out of the park with their popular video parodies like ‘Fungal Bois’ or ‘Solitary Royals’, or even ‘Let it Snow’. Virtual classes can be watched over the parks Facebook page.
Plan later: Wichita was chosen as a favorite destination by blogger Jeff Bryant of Our Changing Lives. Find out why his family loved Wichita.
Sedgwick County Zoo is bringing the zoo to the public with increased posts through their social media channels, including daily live virtual visits on Facebook where keepers take you behind the scenes with some of the zoo’s residents.
For a doze of “Virtual Vitamin Z” (love this tagline!), the Detroit Zoo is is bringing the Zoo to you. Watch the Otter cam or view other live animals and creatures. Some of them even have accompanying activities to reinforce learning. Find all the fun on their dedicated Virtual Vitamin Z page, Facebook page, and YouTube.
Plan later: Here’s your guide to the Detroit Zoo from Wagon Pilot including tips to plan your visit.
The Henry Ford Museum, an internationally recognized cultural destination that immerses visitors in the stories of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation that helped shape America, opens up their digital collection where you can explore artifacts and stories like the very bus where Rosa Parks protested segregation laws and the first car built by Henry Ford. Find a robust digital archive and the ability to tour the museum.
Plan later: It’s been ages since we’ve visited the Detroit area. The Henry Ford Museum is both fun and educational. Read all the highlights found at Wagon Pilot Adventures as well as Greenfield Village (highly recommend!)
The Michigan Science Center strives to inspire curious minds of all ages to discover, explore and appreciate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Kids can take a virtual tour through the museum where they can explore the health and wellness gallery to learn about the human body, the lunar and space gallery to learn about space travel and more.
Check out their online gallery showcasing American, European, Modern and Contemporary, and Graphic art, as well as African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, Islamic, and Ancient art.
Get inspired by checking out their collection online.
Plan later: After reading this blog post from Wandering Educators, I totally want to visit when I’m in the area.
Manistee County, Michigan
Various Historic Sites
Have you been to Manistee County before? The small town on the shores of Lake Michigan is giving travelers a chance to virutally tour 100 of their historic sites through eight themed tours.
Learn about Michigan’s rich past at the Michigan History Museum. Viewers are able to tour the five-floor museum virtually.
Plan later: Looking for more fun in the Lansing area? Check out these other places for family fun.
You can take a virtual tour of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). Check out their art collection (some with 3D views) or learn more about certain pieces through podcasts, videos, or ArtStories. Don’t miss their Facebook page highlighting select pieces.
Plan later: According to Give Me The Mike the MIA was voted as one of the 5 best museums in MN.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis Aquarium
Learn about many of the creatures and animals at the new St. Louis Aquarium including the cutest baby sloth ever, Coconut. Check out their live streams and Facebook page for activities to continue the learning experience.
More cute animals? You bet! The St. Louis Zoo has launched their own YouTube channel stlzootube in order for the team to #BringTheStlZooToYou to let viewers tune in from home and see what’s happening inside the city’s zoo. Watch their Facebook page as they care for animals as well as add a little smile to your day through videos and at-home activities!
Plan later: Read all about the family fun in St. Louis in our Family Guide.
Virtual “Keepers Corner”: Located in Lincoln, Nebraska and designed specifically for children to experience interactive, firsthand encounters with exotic wildlife, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo’s newly launched “Keeper Corner” allows children and wildlife enthusiasts the same up-close, enriching animal experiences from the comfort of their couch. Viewers can meet a zookeeper and zoo animals from sloths to tigers, while being educated on interesting facts about the animals, for a fully interactive, entertaining learning experience.Launches daily at 3 p.m. CST on their Facebook page.
Plan later: Learn more about this zoo from The Walking Tourists.
Take a virtual tour of the Nebraska Capitol building. This website not only offers a virtual tour, but the opportunity to learn more about the building, Let the learning continue with a tour of the governor’s mansion.
Plan later: Find out why Odyssey Through Nebraska highly recommends a visit to the Capitol.
This nature sanctuary and non-profit organization focuses on conservation of the Platte River ecosystem and the birds that rely on it, allows birding and nature enthusiasts the unique opportunity to connect with nature in a new, virtual way, while still experiencing the annual spectacle that is the sandhill crane migration. View the second largest animal migration in the world at home with Rowe Sanctuary’s virtual crane cam. The crane cam is set up on the Rowe Sanctuary and viewers are able to see and hear the cranes on their river roost 24 hours a day through the live recording. Who knows, you may also spot other wildlife, such as white-tailed deer and bobcats. Peak times to view the cranes is during their feeding time, around sunrise and sunset, before they depart Nebraska’s Platte River.
Plan later: Interested in learning about the sandhill crane migration? The Walking Tourists have the inside scoop.
This highly rated zoo brings the animals to you. Animal lovers can check out their website to “Do the zoo from home.” Watch interactive videos then complete an activity. Looking for more animals in action. Don’t miss their Facebook page!
Plan later: LeAnn from Well Traveled Nebraskan shares 10 tips that only locals know about Henry Doorly Zoo.
Plan later: After reading this post from Everyday Wanderer on her visit to Cincinnati Zoo (and awesome photos!) I need to plan a visit soon!
Stop by their Facebook page to see how the the animals are faring including some super cute videos of them having fun!
Plan later: Katie from Zen Life and Travel highly recommends a visit to Columbus and considered it her favorite destination from 2019. She gives you 5 reasons why you’ll want to visit Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
COSI has also made an effort to engage during its public closure with its COSI Connects Digital Doorway program. Tune into their website for videos, educational content and at-home activities added daily. Dinosaur lovers will love touring their newest dinosaur exhibit.
Plan later: Lindsay from Let Me Give You Some Advice had a wonderful time in Columbus including COSI. Find out what else she did on her visit.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Take a virtual safari daily at 2 p.m. to see what the animals at the Oklahoma City Zoo have been up to. Tune in to OKC Zoo @ Two for caretaker chats, wellness exams, behind-the-scenes animal encounters and more.
Plan later: Looking for more things to do in Oklahoma City? Don’t miss this list of top things to do in Oklahoma City.
Want to learn more about the banjo? At the American Banjo Museum, tune in to their Facebook page to listen to concerts as well as live tours of the museum.
The newest art museum to hit Oklahamoa City is bringing you art projects that your little Picassos can complete at home. When you’re finished you can tour the new museum from the comfort of your home.
Plan later: Find more Oklahoma City attractions and businesses offering virtual experiences here.
The ABCM is supporting social connectivity, imaginative play and active learning during a time of social distancing and school closures by posting daily YouTube videos of music programs and of ABCM team members reading various children’s books. Additionally, the museum is posting #ABCMactivities on Facebook to keep the kids busy including at-home activities, crafts and project suggestions using common household items.
We all love animals, right? Find out what the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo are doing through cameras stationed at different exhibits. Check it out here. Their Facebook page also captures many of their animals in action.
Plan later: The Milwaukee County Zoo is one of our favorite zoos around (they have an amazing new elephant exhibit!) and definitely worth a trip from Chicago. Read more about our visit here. Visit Milwaukee knocked it out of the park with a super fun activity book that you can download. Perfect for planning a future trip!
Milwaukee Art Museum
Get your daily dose of art by exploring the Milwaukee Art Museum online. Options include teaching resources with an assortment of activities, exploring more than 9000 objects from their collection, or explore the museum virtually.
Plan later: Lori shares her visit to the museum on her blog.
READ MORE: Wanderlust hit you hard? Time to start planning on where you want to go. Check out this post of the best Midwest destinations recommended by fellow travel bloggers.