Virtual field trips are a game-changer. Not only do they fill in for real field trips when budgets and other roadblocks prevent in-person options, but virtual field trips also open doors to educational experiences all over the country and the world, both past and present. No fundraising or permission slips required!
(Note: For anyone who needs it, YouTube offers a closed-captioning option. Just click the CC button in the bottom right-hand corner.)
Ever wondered how Amazon delivers packages at lightning speed? Take a 45-minute behind-the-scenes tour of an Amazon fulfillment center to see how computer science, engineering, and real people work together to make the magic happen. During this interactive virtual field trip, students meet Amazon engineers who explain concepts like algorithms and machine learning. There are versions for grades K-5 as well as grades 6+, and both are aligned to NGSS, CSTA, and ISTE standards. There’s also a Teacher Toolkit that includes a facilitation guide plus student worksheets, certificates, and extension learning opportunities. (Hint: If you like this virtual field trip, look for the release of more Amazon Future Engineer Tech Tours. The next one, Space Tour, will be available in October 2022.)
2. The Zoo
There are so many amazing online options when it comes to zoos that we couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Most zoos have live webcams in some of their most popular exhibits, such as the KC Zoo Polar Bear Cam and the Giant Panda Cam at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. However, some zoos offer a more in-depth look. You’ll definitely want to check out the San Diego Zoo as their site for kids includes behind-the-scenes videos and stories, as well as a variety of printable activities and online games. Check out our full list of virtual zoo goodness.
3. The Aquarium
It’s a similar story with aquariums. You have your pick of live webcams, but our favorites are the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Voyager webcam (wait for the whale shark!) and the “Jelly Cam” at Monterey Bay Aquarium (so soothing). The Seattle Aquarium even has a 30-minute video tour. Want more under-the-sea fun? Here’s our ultimate list of virtual aquarium field trips.
4. The Farm
The classic preschool field trip goes online! You can have your pick of dairy farm field trips, but we like this one from the Dairy Alliance and this one from Stonyfield Organic. Farm Food 360 gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Canadian farm and food tours—from raising pigs to making milk and cheese. We’re also loving these virtual egg farm field trips from the American Egg Board.
5. An Art Museum
We found 20 art museums with virtual tours, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s #MetKids and its awesome Where’s Waldo? setup. And you can’t miss the world-famous Louvre in Paris (no passport needed!). Check out the current virtual tours: Traveling Materials and Objects, the Advent of the Artist, the Body in Movement, and Founding Myths: From Hercules to Darth Vader!
6. A National Park
From webcams at Hawaii volcanoes to a virtual run along the rim of the Grand Canyon, you have tons of options here. Our top pick would have to be Yellowstone. The interactive maps are a great way to see the Mammoth Hot Springs and Mud Volcano, but we think kids will be psyched about the Old Faithful Geyser livestream and the opportunity to make their own predictions for its next eruption. Check out everything the National Park Service has to offer virtually.
7. A Planetarium
Through Stellarium Web, kids can explore over 60,000 stars, locate planets, and watch sunrises and solar eclipses. If you enter your location, you can see all the constellations that are visible in the night sky in your corner of the world.
Take your students on a virtual field trip of a recycling center and a modern landfill. Plus, there’s a full-on curriculum that includes lesson plans, take-home handouts, and more.
Nickelodeon teamed up with two astronauts on the International Space Station to demonstrate how slime reacts to microgravity and had kids reproduce those same demonstrations back here on Earth. It makes for an amazing 15-minute virtual field trip.
The Nature Conservancy has a brand-new virtual field trip entitled “You’re the Scientist! Citizen Science, Frogs & Cicadas.” Check out their full library of videos on topics like climate change and water security.
Discovery Education hosts a variety of virtual events—each with a companion guide with hands-on learning activities. Current offerings include “Making a New Life: The Courage of a Refugee” and “The Future Is Now” (architectural and engineering innovations). Stay tuned for their upcoming civics virtual field trip, “The American Ideal.”
This virtual field trip from Great Lakes Now has three components: coastal wetlands, algae, and lake sturgeon. Each video is a quick five minutes long.
Explore online exhibits and discover the history and evolution of play. Check out board games that changed play, sports video games that shaped digital play, and the making of Monopoly to name a few.
Kids can learn about the most recent Census and how census data is collected and used. This virtual field trip also features interviews with subject matter experts and an interactive challenge.
Houston, we have a virtual field trip. Three, actually. All with companion educator guides. The star of the show is the behind-the-scenes tour of the Johnson Space Center.
Boise State put together this fully interactive virtual field trip with text, photos, audio, and video about the history of music. The four featured music locations are: Vienna, Austria; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia.
This living-history museum provides a look into life in an early American community. The website offers five different webcams featuring areas such as the tavern and the armory.
This virtual experience of George Washington’s home is incredibly well done. Enter the different buildings—from the opulent mansion to the chilling slave quarters—and click on different items for video and text explanations.
This virtual tour comes with a real tour guide! Blaine Kortemeyer is the Assistant Chief of Interpretation and Education, who lends his expertise on the building of this national monument. The 3D Explorer is also an excellent tool.
Take a visit to the National WWII Museum for “a cross-country virtual expedition to discover the science, sites, and stories of the creation of the atomic bomb.” Don’t forget to download the classroom guide!
For a look inside the iconic building, check out the 360° tour of some of the most historic rooms of the People’s House, from the Situation Room to the Oval Office. Examine each room and check out the contents up close.
The National Museum of Natural History’s virtual experiences are self-guided, room-by-room tours of permanent, current, and past exhibits. Be sure to send kids to the second floor Bone Hall so they can take a look at all different kinds of skeletons.
A collaboration with over 1,200 leading museums and archives, Google Arts & Culture is an incredible storehouse of monumental works of art. We recommend the Street View and Play sections.
Boasting the world’s largest collection of 360° image videos, 360 Cities provides kids with the opportunity to see stunning panoramas across the globe, including their video of the ice floe on the Vistula River in Poland.
It’s the official residence of the Queen of England, and boy, is it opulent! Get a peek inside the gorgeous Grand Staircase, White Drawing Room, Throne Room, and Blue Drawing Room.
See one of the wonders of the world with this amazing, thousands-year-old fortification system known the world over. This virtual tour has four scenes available (you have to pay to get access to all 14). The bird’s-eye view of Mutianyu pass is a highlight.
Most of us recognize the giant stone statues of Easter Island, but what’s the story behind them? Nova’s online adventure “Secrets of Easter Island” delves into the mystery with a virtual tour.
National Geographic lets you explore the world’s largest cave, located in Vietnam. Use the interactive map to enjoy the fully immersive experience (sound on!).
You don’t need a time machine! Discovering Ancient Egypt has a ton of free resources, but it’s the interactive pyramid map and 3D temple reconstructions that really give it a field trip feel.
Virtually visit Turn Back the Clock, a museum exhibit that ran for two years at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Through compelling personal stories, innovative interactive media, and pop culture artifacts, the exhibit takes guests through seven decades of history—from the dawn of the nuclear age to significant policy questions our leaders face today.
No, really! You can absolutely “go” to the red planet. With Access Mars, you can see the actual surface of Mars, recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Trust us—don’t skip the intro. And if your kids liked that, check out this 4K tour of the moon.
Take a virtual tour of this historical battleship located on the Camden waterfront. This battleship has traveled more miles than any other!
No need to travel to Rome! Take in the amazing art and architecture located in the Vatican Museums with these 360-degree views.
Download the app and climb aboard the virtual tram line! Take a virtual walk through the Space Center Houston with informational stops along the way.
Virtually visit museum rooms in the famous Louvre located in Paris. Even check out The Louvre kids’ site for student-friendly galleries and stories. You can’t visit The Louvre without seeing the Mona Lisa, so check out their immersive Mona Lisa experience available in the app store.
This interactive tour of Ellis Island lets students explore places like the Baggage Room and the Stairs of Separation through short stories, historical photographs, videos, and audio clips. Students can also hear the stories of real kids who recently immigrated to the United States, explore colorful charts and graphs with immigration data, and watch a 30-minute movie that includes a Q&A with National Park Service Rangers who explain what coming to America was like for many immigrants.
38. Plimoth Patuxet Museums
Travel back to the 17th century with options for free, on-demand, digital resources or a live, 1-hour virtual school program led by a Plimoth Patuxet Contemporary Indigenous Museum Educator. Students explore Wampanoag daily life and history; discover the real history of Thanksgiving and the legend behind it; meet a 17th-century Pilgrim; get an interactive sneak peak into 17th-century wardrobes; and learn about simple machines and water power at the Plimoth Grist Mill. There are also options for virtual hands-on history workshops, including Wampanoag Pottery and Write Like a Pilgrim.
When you can’t visit the museum in person, these 3D virtual field trips to the Children’s Museum Houston are the next best thing. All videos are produced and curated by museum educators and feature hands-on activities that can be done in the classroom. Topics include nutrition, math, states of matter, forces and properties of water, and more.
Beyond the Battle Field is a virtual field trip for grades 2-8 hosted by Lauren Tarshis, author of the I Survived historical-fiction series for kids. Students will meet a museum educator as well as the museum curator, and explore artifacts and documents from the American Revolution. Plus they’ll hear the stories of teens who served during the war. There’s also a Classroom Kit available with a vocabulary list and discussion questions by grade level.