14 Surprising Things You Can Do While Stuck at Home

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A family sits on a couch together reading.
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As restrictions on gatherings are put in place, sports seasons, museum exhibits and major events have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Watching favorite TV shows will pass some time. But why not branch out and explore other options for staying entertained while self-isolating?

You likely will be surprised at the array of activities you can do while stuck at home. And every one of the ideas on the following list is free, too.

1. Take museum tours

With international travel restrictions in place, you can’t visit England right now. But you can enjoy a virtual tour of the British Museum in the heart of London.

Google’s Arts & Culture collection offers virtual access to some of the world’s top exhibits. Among them:

2. Learn something new with online classes

Keep your mind sharp with recorded lectures, interactive courses and other offerings from top universities around the world.

Explore the Open & Free selections at Carnegie Mellon University. Go Ivy League with classes from Harvard University and Yale University. Learn from Stanford University’s free offerings. Challenge your brain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

For more, see our list of “Ivy League Colleges That Offer Free Online Classes.”

3. Enjoy nature with virtual garden tours

Take a stroll in nature with a virtual botanical garden tour. Gardens and arboretums around the country offer video tours of their grounds in full bloom.

Start off with a summer tour of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Next, enjoy the top 10 attractions of the Kew Gardens, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens in England. For an educational twist, the virtual tour of the Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin, Texas, features information about the garden and its plants.

4. Learn a language

Could there be a better time to learn a language than when you’re at home with easy access to the internet?

Duolingo has free courses in many languages, including Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, French and German. Or challenge yourself to learn Navajo, Swahili or Scottish Gaelic.

5. Stay fit with exercise classes

Staying home doesn’t have to entail sitting on the couch all day. You’ll find many free, online exercise programs to keep you fit.

Among them: Yoga with Adrienne and the Silver Sneakers YouTube channel for a variety of exercise routines to do at home.

6. Take a craft class

Skillshare has free online classes on many topics, including photography, sewing and knitting. Many classes are free, although some require a premium membership.

Also, you can learn to preserve your own food using the many free resources at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

7. Enjoy audiobooks, e-books and movies

At your local public library you will find free audiobooks and e-books even while the physical location is closed. Many libraries offer free movies for streaming through Hoopla, a digital media service for libraries. Here are 10 things you can get for free with a library card.

Right now, Audible is also offering select free audio books for adults and kids. Choose from classics such as “Jane Eyre,” “The Call of the Wild” or “Paradise Lost.”

8. Visit top attractions virtually

Take virtual tours of top attractions around the world such as the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian antiquities at the Louvre and Michelangelo’s masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel.

AirPano offers 360-degree panoramic experiences of attractions such as Rome’s Colosseum and the Great Wall of China.

9. Explore national parks

You don’t have to put on hiking shoes to explore national parks around the U.S. Take a National Parks Service virtual tour of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions, and then enjoy the online tour of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Google Arts & Culture has a list of national park virtual tours including, to name a few, Zion National Park, Big Bend National Park and the Grand Canyon.

10. Watch animals via candid cameras

Zoos and aquariums around the nation are closed but you can watch the animals virtually.

See live webcam broadcasts of penguins and sea otters living at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the California coast. Join puffins and beluga whales underwater at the Georgia Aquarium.

Enjoy koalas, giraffes and baboons via the San Diego Zoo’s livestreams.

11. Take a virtual trip to Mars

Here’s your chance to explore Mars without training to be an astronaut.

Tour a three-dimensional replica of the surface of Mars recorded by NASA’s Curiosity Rover.

12. Explore Hawaii’s beauty

Explore Hawaii’s natural beauty with a YouTube trek through the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden to learn about the plants and flowers that grow on the Big Island of Hawaii.

After that, use Google Arts & Culture to visit the Hawaiian rainforest and tour the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

13. Enjoy opera at home

If you enjoy opera, you’ll love watching your favorites from the comfort of your couch. The Metropolitan Opera offers “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” with streaming recordings of popular operas such as Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”

Each night’s performance is available for 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the next day. Here’s the schedule of performances.

14. Explore the International Space Station

You can get a peek inside the International Space Station with this virtual tour. Move around and see first-hand how astronauts spend their days while in space.

What are your favorite at-home entertainment activities? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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