There's no need to leave the house to explore the world with these amazing virtual tours for kids!
While we're still looking for things to do with kids (opens in new tab) in lockdown, virtual tours have continued to be popular. Now, some of the most famous locations around the world have now taken their sites online. That includes historical landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, right through to virtual tours of animal enclosures at San Diego Zoo.
So if you're looking for a break from homeschooling (opens in new tab), have tried all the Zoom games for kids (opens in new tab) out there and are wondering how you're going to keep busy over half-term in the third lockdown (opens in new tab), then you've come to the right place. But there are also so many educational tours to choose from too, so you could always incorporate them into their daily timetable as an alternative to their textbooks.
Check out the best virtual tours for kids in 2021...
The best free virtual tours for kids
These virtual tours are brilliant indoor activites for kids (opens in new tab) when the rain hits. Being a great way for them to explore the big wide world, in the comfort of their own living rooms. Whether they're a keen historian and would love to see the insides of the Tower of London or a young Vincent Van Gough and set on seeing the sunflowers in person, there's a tour for everyone.
Virtual tours of museums
British Museum, England
While the British Museum’s 60 galleries would normally be packed with visitors, their doors are closed for now. But you can watch, listen and learn all about the Egyptians and their bizarre mummifications, the Romans’ glutinous eating habits and lots more on their virtual tours.
Explore the museum itself here.
Through the Museum of the World online tour, you can browse through large selections of the museum and search through the exhibits by date, continent and category (art and design, trade and conflict etc). Each one comes with accompanying audio, offering a fascinating backstory to each piece.
RAF Museum, England
Calling all flying fans! This one's for you. In this virtual tour of London's RAF museum (opens in new tab), little ones can explore three different sites - including two aeroplane hangars.
You'll need to have Adobe Flash Player installed on your device for this one but it's a great option for something a little different.
Natural History Museum, England
The Natural History Museum has not experienced so much disruption to their usual steady stream of visitors since the Second World War, when a number of the galleries were taken over to provide tools and training for British secret spy networks.
However, the museum is still committed to educating us all on the amazing world around us. Explore the deep oceans with their virtual venture into the life of a blue whale. (opens in new tab) Or, why not flick through the fascinating, and sometimes hilarious photos from the latest Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit (opens in new tab)? Then go on to explore the museum itself with their virtual tour from Google Arts & Culture. (opens in new tab) With over 300,000 specimens to browse, along with 14 digital exhibits, it will certainly keep kids and adults alike busy!
The museum has also announced that its family festival, which teaches kids about plants, pollination and the environment, will be online this year. Running from July 27 to August 9, the festival will run a range of activities that are designed to suit all ages and be fun, as well as educational. You can keep up to date with all the activities on offer on the museum's website (opens in new tab).
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, USA
This world-famous museum in Washington D.C is now open online and is one of the best virtual tours for kids out there. Explore every single one of the exhibits with a 360-degree-view on their website.
In the Sant Ocean Hall, you can get up close and personal with a blue whale like you’ve never seen before. Many of the objects have small photo icons, which you can also click on and view information or closer images of the exhibit.
Virtual tours of zoos and aquariums
San Diego Zoo, USA
San Diego Zoo is the most popular zoos in the United States. With all kinds of animals from all over the world - from tigers and elephants to penguins and platypuses - the site attracts more than 3.2million visitors every year!
Just like all other attractions around the world, San Diego Zoo have had to close their doors during the coronavirus pandemic. However, their live cams are certainly up and running through their website. (opens in new tab) Take a trip over the pond and explore the lives of some of the world's most loveable animals.
Monterey Aquarium is one of the most famous aquariums in the world. Over the first lockdown, they set up live streams (opens in new tab) around many of their enclosures so that aquatic fans around the world could watch the goings on of these beautiful animals.
The ones to watch have definitely got to the be jellyfish (opens in new tab), sea otters (opens in new tab) and sharks (opens in new tab). If you're lucky, you might even catch feeding time! The aquarium also has their own aviary with loads of sea birds and for anyone feeling a little 'locked down', there's the Monterey Bay cam (opens in new tab). Set up to look out across the sea, you can watch the waves coming across the shore from the comfort of your own home.
Accompanied by relaxing music, these cams are the perfect way to relax for both adults and kids.
London Zoo, England
If you don't fancy booking a ticket to the zoo (opens in new tab) now it's open again (opens in new tab), from the comfort of your own home, you can burrow or nest, and explore the lives of all the wonderful creatures at London Zoo. With webcams and live streams (opens in new tab), zoo keeper diary updates and behind-the-scenes footage, you'll be able to get up close and personal with the animal kingdom.
You can also check out their Youtube channel (opens in new tab), where you can watch all the cutest baby animals in action and find out more about the important conservation work that the zoo does.
Cincinnati Zoo, USA
This is one of the oldest and most established zoos in the United States, with a collection of almost 2,000 animals.
They have taken their online tour to the next level, introducing the world to their beautiful animals through Facebook Live videos. Their Home Safari series highlights their conservation work. Tune in live, every day from 3pm.
This Scottish zoo has set up live streams so little ones can watch animals like penguins, pandas, lions and tigers for free. If you time it right, you might even be able to see them at feeding time with the keepers.
While the experience is completely free, the zoo is accepting donations to help support the animals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Virtual tours of art galleries
The Louvre, Paris
This famous French gallery is opening its doors virtually, with art lovers all over the world able to tour from the comfort of their own home. There's lots of tours on offer, including The Advent of the Artist, Power Plays, and Egyptian Antiquities.
Van Gogh Museum, Netherlands
After his death, Van Gogh became one of the most famous painters in the world. Many of his paintings, including the sunflowers, hang in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. If your child loves painting or has a school project on the artist coming up, this is the best chance to see these incredible art works up close.
You can take your own trip through the galleries and explore the world of this incredible artist, through the virtual tour of the museum on Google Arts & Culture (opens in new tab).
The National Gallery, England
Sitting in the middle of Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is one of London's most famous buildings. If you've never had the chance to walk the halls, looking at all the incredible artwork on display, now's your chance!
The gallery are even offering tutorials on their Instagram page (opens in new tab), like how to use flowers from your walk to create your very own Van Gogh's Sunflowers piece.
Guggenheim Museum, New York
There are actually four different Guggenheim museums all around the world but this virtual tour will take you round the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Kids and adults alike will enjoy exploring all their most impressive art works online.
Through the museum's online collection (opens in new tab), you can go into the worlds of artists like Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian and Jeff Koons.
Virtual tours of national parks
Yellowstone National Park, USA
Home to a real-life super volcano, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming has some really impressive geological features - like a Grand Canyon (opens in new tab) and mammoth hot springs (opens in new tab). While the super volcano sits dormant and won't be erupting anytime soon, there's no better time than now to explore America's great outdoors - from your laptop.
Get up close and personal with all the bubbling basins and mud volcanos you fancy, with Yellowstone's virtual tours, available on their website (opens in new tab).
One of the biggest mysteries out there is the origin of Stonehenge. Now you and your little ones can learn all about it from the comfort of your own living room, with their in-depth and informative virtual tour.
Click on the pulsing icons on the video (opens in new tab) to dive deeper into the mystery. Learn all about this marvel of human (or alien?) creation.
Kenai Fjords, USA
In Alaska, one of the northwest (read: coldest) states in the USA is home to a whole host of glaciers, fjords and icebergs. Through Google Arts & Culture (opens in new tab) you can explore this chilly new world on a virtual kayak. Take in the beautiful scenery right through to the darkest, iciest crevasses.
You'll need a pair of headphones for this one.
Virtual tours of theme parks
The World of Harry Potter
Virtual tours for kids don't come more magical than Harry Potter's wizarding world! Using this amazing tool from Google Maps (opens in new tab), you can explore all the places J.K Rowling's magic world was based on. See the London market that was the inspiration for Diagon Alley and the famous Platform 9 3/4 that whisked the witches and wizards off to Hogwarts.
While you might not be able to enjoy the treats of Honeyduke's sweet shop or jump on the Hogwarts Express, this tour is the closest thing to it!
Online tours of castles, landmarks and palaces
The Tower of London
Getting tickets to the Tower of London over any school holiday normally requires queues of at least an hour. This time around though, it's not only free but there's no queuing needed!
Simply visit the Tower of London on YouVisit.com (opens in new tab) for a fully guided tour around this iconic site in London. Alongside an explanation of the history of the fortress, which sits in the middle of the city and has done for hundreds of years, there's there's a walk through of the crown jewels (which are still kept in the tower today) and even a tour around the infamous Bloody Tower.
Complete with audio and a 360 degree walking view of all buildings on the site, this is one of the best tours we've seen this year. Kids are set for a history lesson unlike any they've seen before!
The White House
Ever wanted to see inside the White House? In this free Facebook video, former president Barack Obama takes us on a tour of the historical home, and the 360 feature allows viewers to look around at their own pace. The narration provides fascinating insight and history into how the White House came to be.
Windsor Castle, England
Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world! Although the Queen regularly spends her time here at the weekends, it's open to the public to come and have a look around.
Now, they've gone one step further and offered an online virtual tour (opens in new tab) of the castle. Set up for a state banquet, you can zoom in, out and use the "i" information icons to learn all about the room. It's a picture perfect experience for kids fascinated by history.
Buckingham Palace, England
Ever wanted to see inside the Queen’s royal residence?
You can now have a nosey around some of the vast rooms in Buckingham Palace. The tour was originally created in honour of London Fashion Week 2018, so many of the exhibits on show are of extravagant clothes fit for a king. Housed in extravagant rooms you can see it all through this feature by Google Arts and Culture.
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Can you spot Queen Mary of Scot’s initials above the doorframe in Edinburgh Castle?
Thanks to Google Arts and Culture, you can have a look inside the famous Scottish castle and learn all about the infamous kings and queens that once walked around inside its walls.
Roman Baths, England
Take a dip into the Roman times with this walkthrough of the Roman baths in Bath. Their virtual tour really makes you feel like you’re there, as you walk through the entrance and by-pass the ticket office – straight into the centre of the site.
The link panel on the right side of your screen will help you navigate and teach all curious minds about the people who bathed here and gods who were worshipped.