Virtual Vacations You Can Take Today!

Virtually there: Cruise Norway from your couch.

Photo by Getty Images Cabin fever has made it clear; There will never be a substitute for experiencing the world in person. And trust us, like you, our team at Woodlake Travel can’t wait to get out again. But until the Coronavirus crisis runs its course, here are our current picks for taking flight and going on vacation from the safety of your home (thank you, technology).

Cozy Up to a Fire in Finland

Everything in Finnish Lapland feels legendary and larger than life – think Northern Lights, the midnight sun, Santa Claus. The remote subarctic region even takes sheltering in place to extraordinary levels, as evidenced by Visit Finland’s Sound of Lapland video series. Its intimate 360-degree clips let you hole up in a cushy log cabin and – if you’re able to tear yourself from the soothing fire – take a peaceful paddle along the Lemmenjoki River, watch reindeer grazing in the wilderness, and listen to Arctic runoff flowing through Vatikuru gorge.

Cabin fever at its finest.


Step into an Italian Kitchen

Our current picks for Italian-comfort-fooding your way through quarantine: Perfect a creamy mozzarella-pesto spread and penne alla vodka with Crystal Cruises’ chef Jon Ashton, plus saffron risottotiramisu, and this bellissima pizza in Florence with Il Salviatino’s executive chef Silvia Grossi.

Get cooking: Pasta alla vodka with chef Jon Ashton.

Crystal Cruises

Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

From the Empire State Building’s EarthCam to comedy show livestreams, curated experiences at Virtual NYC let you travel to all five boroughs, sans the schlepping. We recommended walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (beware of the biker at 18:49!) via a 30-minute POV video, following a guide through Central Park, and virtually touring the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show.

Bliss Out on Saint Bart’s

With its postcard-worthy beaches, laid-back Caribbean vibe, and dynamic French and Creole dining scene, Saint Bart’s ranks high on our “where we want travel when it’s time to travel again” list. For now, we’ve been playing this video from Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa on repeat, lulled by the tranquil sounds of seabirds and turquoise waves.

Caribbean calling: Beach time on Saint Bart’s.Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa

Tune In and Track African Wildlife 

“A birdsong can even, for a moment, make the whole world into a sky within us,” the poet Rainier Maria Rilke wrote. Avian orchestras from the African bush can be especially uplifting, including this soundtrack from eco-lodge operator Singita, which also posts live game drives (think tracking lion prides in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve) on its Facebook page.

Wild times: Head out on an African safari – from home.

Photo by Singita

Sail Past Fjords in Norway

Leave it to Norway (aka the world’s fifth-happiest country) to create a television genre that can actually reduce stress. If you’re new to Slow TV – which covers everyday events in superbly meditative, marathon sessions – we suggest starting with Hurtigruten’s 1,100-mile voyage along Norway’s coast. Spoiler alert: A sublime sunset paints the horizon at the 3:36:28 mark. Need to speed things up? The following time-lapse condenses the voyage to 37 minutes. 

Hurtigruten’s six-day sailing in time-lapse.

Marten Dalfors

Get Wild in the Galápagos

Daily programing on Lindblad Expeditions’ Facebook page lets you listen to live concerts curated by the cruise line’s ethnomusicologist, step inside design studios of global artisans whose crafts are featured in onboard galleries, and take nature excursions in places such as the Arctic and Galápagos Islands.

A deep dive into the Galápagos Islands.

Lindblad Expeditions

Gallery Hop at Top Museums

Taking virtual tours of the LouvreSmithsonian, and myriad other museums means you can browse at your own pace and without barriers (read: other people). We’re also loving online exhibits from Google Arts & Culture, featuring everything from France’s Chauvet Cave to L.A.’s J. Paul Getty Museum. Another must: Visiting Viking Cruises’ new Viking.TV site for its Museum Mondays series, including a video tour of Oslo’s Munch Museum.

Journey to Japan 

The 2020 Summer Olympics may have been postponed, but Tokyo still ranks high on our list of this year’s top places to visit. A live cam of Shibuya Crossing puts you right in the city, but when it’s time to delve more deeply into Japan’s culture and countryside, this 360-degree VR movie (smartphone and VR goggles are required) from the Japan National Tourism Organization also features Sumo wrestling, sushi counters, and strolls on the Sugano Bamboo Forest Road.

Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing.

Photo by Getty Images

Explore U.S. National Parks

Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called America’s national parks “the best idea we ever had.” Here’s another: Connecting (literally) with nature via National Park Service webcams (check out this live underwater cam at Channel Islands National Park). At The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks, interactive, 360-degree videos also let you explore lava tubes at Hawaii Volcanoes, crevasses in Kenai Fjords, and more.

Step Foot on Antarctica

Blue ice, breaching whales, penguin parades. Seabourn’s epic Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia film takes you as far as the Seventh Continent to commune with its remote and rugged wilderness (bonus: no oversized parka or Drake Passage crossing required). 

Super chill: Exploring Antarctica from your living room.


Embrace Continuing Education 

Our suggested curriculum for homebased classes that take you far away via Facebook Live: Aqua Expeditions’ Pisco sour and ceviche masterclass with Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino (look for updates on the cruise line’s future cooking classes here). Mindfulness Meditation from Spas at Six Senses Hotels and Resorts (follow its regular wellness classes at #AtHomeWithSixSenses). And Nihi Sumba’s Surf Survival session on May 2 (tune into the Indonesian resort’s culturally themed, daily live classes here). 

Toast California Wine Country

Cab savs and pinot noirs are playing a big part in helping us take the edge off social distancing. But until we can revisit California wine country, we’re raising our glass to virtual winery tours. Meet us at the Russian River Valley’s La Crema estate, set in a restored nineteenth-century barn, and Napa Valley’s 130-year-old Freemark Abbey, home to one of the world’s largest libraries of cabernets. In Oregon, a tour of the Penner-Ash estate provides panoramic views of the Willamette Valley. 

Cheers to that: Napa Valley at sunset.

Photo by Getty Images

Look to the Stars

At last, the heavens call. See live telescope feeds from Chile to Morocco at Slooh (subscription required) and take a tour of the cosmos with Google Sky

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