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Taking the Kids: 16 virtual travel adventures to inspire your future trips (once it's safe)

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Got a Harry Potter fan — or two — in the house? At the moment, you can’t visit Scotland and walk in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling where she was famously inspired. Nor can you visit Universal Studios Hollywood and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando Resort Florida is open, with appropriate COVID protocols and a slew of deals, though you may want to put off traveling until we are past the latest pandemic surge.

The good news is you can begin to think about a later visit with Universal at Home a site that lets you purchase Harry Potter memorabilia and find other theme park activities, virtual rides and even recipes.

When, along with our partners at Family Travel Forum, we set out to update our Virtual Family Adventure Guide we first created early in the pandemic, we discovered there has never been so much opportunity for virtual travel.

Wherever you hope to go when it is safe to travel, you will find a growing archive of virtual content from tours of famous sites and museums with knowledgeable local guides, beach cams, cooking classes, animal and sea creature antics in the wild, and live cams from zoos and aquariums. There is also content for kids and plenty for those seeking an outdoor virtual adventure. There’s no better way to get you—and your kids—excited about the prospect of traveling again. And no one has to compromise about the itinerary! All you need is a device and Wi-Fi.

The New Mexico Tourism Department, for example, created a page featuring virtual experiences from soaring in a hot-air balloon to exploring Carlsbad Caverns and the art of Georgia O'Keeffe.

Virgin Limited Edition, a collection of unique properties around the world, has just launched a Virtual Kids series on Instagram, @VirginLimited. Ready to make Berber bread in Morocco or visit a Maasai village in Africa?


Some are free, others require a fee. Like the Safari@Home from Sonoma County’s Safari West Wildlife Foundation where you can encounter giraffes, rhinoceros, zebras, buffalo, and 17 species of African antelope in their natural habitat. Ask questions of your guide as you virtually move in real time on a safari truck from one species to the next. (Reserve your experience online and make sure you have a Zoom account. Safari tickets are $50 per device/family household

Try your hand at film-making, create a costume design, and test your Harry Potter knowledge, even download backgrounds and create your own character and their movie makeup , thanks to virtual opportunities for Harry Potter Fans from the Making of Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London while the studios remain closed.

Fans can also join Andrew “Professor” Baxter on his special Harry Potter virtual tour around Scotland. He welcomes families to his study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he is the Head of Potions and Muggle Tours. Then explore the places in Edinburgh that inspired J K Rowling when she created Harry Potter before hopping on the Hogwarts Express to visit some of the locations across the Scottish Highlands that appear in the movie, including the iconic Harry Potter railway bridge and the site of Hagrid's Hut. (Cost is just under $14 per person.)

While you are (virtually) in Scotland, check out Visit Scotland’s new “coo cam” to connect with Highland cows that are bound to elicit a laugh, or at least a smile.


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