Home & Leisure

Taking the Kids: Going on a virtual adventure

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Are you ready to let the kids take the lead? Clearly, they lead us in unexpected directions when we travel -- whether vintage shopping, to a pop-up dinner in someone's house, a museum you never would have considered visiting, a bike ride or hike.... the list goes on.

Since we are all grounded right now, let the kids lead us all on virtual adventures (and they can safely share them with grandparents too) of places they hope to go to soon and those they dream about visiting someday.

Museums, zoos, aquariums, resorts, theme parks and adventure companies are among those stepping up their virtual offerings while closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic with live-cams, behind-the-scenes tours, hands-on activities (how about a family yoga class?) and more. (More virtual tours and educational content are being added daily from destinations, including Berlin and Ireland.)

Here's your chance to visit Alaska with an Undersea Specialist -- or take a virtual hike amid the wildflowers in Arizona.

"An important part of family learning is exploring the world together, particularly with the sciences, it is key to allow children to test and experiment and draw their own conclusions," said Jennifer Pace Robinson, vice president of Family Learning and Experience Development at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the largest in the country, now offering a variety of Museum at Home DIY experiments and activities, including family workouts.

Have the kids ever told you what's on their travel bucket list? Have you ever shared your dream vacation trip? If you have the ingredients, try a recipe from a region you hope to visit. It can be something as simple as using red and green salsa on your tacos -- called "Christmas” in New Mexico -- or making blueberry pancakes and talking about visiting Maine. (Did you know Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world?)


Constructive activities, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics, can help kids -- and parents. Children may show signs of increased stress, which can lead to more frustration for the entire family. Remember, says the AAP, "Bored or frustrated children are more likely to act out."

Family Travel Forum has compiled a list of 7 Great Destinations Offering Virtual Visits from Home. See what your local museums, zoos and aquariums have to offer.

The good news: For once, distance or budget is no obstacle.

FOR ANIMAL LOVERS there's nothing more fun than a live animal zoo-cam, whether from the "School of Crocs" daily Facebook Live show and a YouTube segment called "Later Gator" from Orlando's Gatorland to the Denver Zoo's virtual zoo, complete with daily activity ideas and a daily behind-the-scenes Facebook Live series called "Bringing the Zoo to You, to the San Diego Zoo (check out the Polar Bear AND Koala Cam!) cam!) and the special San Diego Zoo Kids website with fun animal facts, (did you know flamingos' pink color comes from the food they eat, like shrimp?) animal videos, activities, and more.


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