It’s only natural for people in a time of crisis to become anxious and stressed. So to balance your spirit, nurture your mind with positive, happy thoughts and ideas…like travel, for instance. Even with social distancing in place and many communities on lockdown, armchair travel and walks down memory lane from both past and future vacations, can become like a salve to the soul. See what some of our Southern neighbors have offered in terms of safe and virtual travel experiences—perfect for quiet meditation and perhaps the perfect medicine to help fight current day anxiety.
Albany is conveniently located off I-75 and I-10 in Southwest Georgia and offers its own kind of adventure. If you’re stuck inside, don’t worry! Thanks to Chehaw Animal and Adventure Park you can find educational entertainment each day starting Wednesday at 10 a.m. with the digital Cubs program, primarily targeting kids ages 3-4 (but fun for ANY age). Then at 4:30 p.m. each day, check out the digital Keeper Chat where zookeepers will take you behind the scenes with favorite animals.
Albany has such a treasure with one-of-a-kind experiences offered at Flint RiverQuarium, featuring a unique blue hole spring with over 120 mysterious creatures. Right now, your family can tune in for fun facts about different animals each day during Creature Features. Also, be on the lookout for a virtual Facebook event at 9:30 a.m. on April 1 called Tadpole Time: April Showers.
A place where history and science can be fully explored and folks can see a rail car display, enjoy a planetarium and much more, Thronateeska Heritage Center will be doing its part to help everyone through this time of sheltering in place. Join the daily video with lots of educational value for parents teaching at home. Be a hero with your children by providing quality material you’ll all love.
Alpine Helen-White County, Georgia
The quaint Bavarian town of Alpine Helen-White County is about an hour and a half north of Atlanta, but their German charm and traditions can be followed in only seconds via their downtown web cams that can be viewed from the comfort of your living room sofa. Picture yourself taking a relaxing stroll through town, eating baked treats from Hofer’s Bakery and meandering in and out of specialty shops. Perfect for daydreaming of brighter times ahead.
Virtually visit Hardman Farm State Historic Site on Facebook as they team up with sister site Smithgall Woods State Park for virtual LIVE programming with exciting content. They’ll also be taking your questions, so be sure to tune in.
Capital City/Lake Murray County, South Carolina
The beautiful Capital City/Lake Murray County region of South Carolina is conveniently and centrally located off Interstates I-77, I-20, I-26 in the heart of the Palmetto State. Learn more about this community with amazing art galleries, specialty shopping, outdoor recreation, family-friendly attractions and fabulous restaurants by checking out these fun, online activities.
From the comfort of your home, experience new adventures at the Zoo and Garden through Z-Learning—the wilder side of E-Learning. Weekdays at 10 a.m. EST, Riverbanks Zoo will bring the Zoo and Garden to you through Facebook features such as live interactions, behind-the-scenes peeks, fun that is way too cute to handle and activities you can do right at home. Z-Learning offers a new way of exploring and learning while creating connections and inspiring action that will have an everlasting impact on conservation.
Have you ever explored the zoo from home? Enjoy some screen time you can actually be proud of with Today’s Play at EdVenture Children’s Museum. Sparking discovery, imagination and curiosity, kiddos will be looking forward to this online forum every weekday.
Cartersville, Georgia, is a town in Atlanta’s northern exurb, where an easy 45-minute drive up I-75 unveils worldly museums, an ideally historic city center and many delightful dishes to rival some of the best in the city. Anchoring downtown Cartersville is the Booth Western Art Museum, which proudly shares the world’s largest permanent exhibition of Western Art in one of two Smithsonian Affiliate museums in Cartersville. The sister Affiliate, Tellus Science Museum, celebrated 10 years and two million visitors in 2019, as guests continue to pour into the museum seeking discovery and an enhanced passion for science. From your home, tour the Booth Western Art Museum virtually and tune into the Tellus Science Museum’s Facebook page for exciting and educational armchair experiences.
Historic Highway 61 holds a small town with a big vibe—Cleveland—right in the heart of the Mississippi Delta between Memphis and Vicksburg. In these parts, music is legendary and in fact, the new GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi makes its home here.
A unique experience for folks that can be done from your own car, a good social distance from anyone else, is The Mississippi Blues Trail. This region has the largest concentration of Blues markers and offers education along with doses of the great outdoors. A visit to their website offers a lovely introductory video and a favorite thing to do for Blues fans at home is listen to the Mississippi Blues Trail 200 Playlist on Spotify.
Explore Northwest Florida
The region known as Northwest Florida is conveniently accessible via Interstate 10 offering a multitude of day trip options to not only beautiful beaches, but also the loveliest of activity-driven excursions as well. For now, you can view a spectacular slideshow capturing the turtle trail in Gulf County. Turtles have been visiting the Cape San Blas beaches since long before humans settled the area. The photos and educational value presented here are truly classroom worthy.Take a look at The Journey Begins Here and don’t forget the popcorn.
Take a virtual historical tour of Gulf County and see what’s special from the Lighthouse to state parks, the Dead Lakes, Tupelo Honey and more. You’ll come away armed with knowledge and thoughts of having traveled a bit, even though you haven’t left home.
Doing their part to offer continuing programming for the arts, you’ll find numerous treasures on the web site for Gadsden Arts Center & Museum. You’ll find virtual art-making activities, exhibition tours, art talks and more from their Facebook page as well as the website so be sure and check each one daily.
Also, from your home, enjoy Panama City Beach experiences, from the sound of the waves to the dreamy destination properties you can visit later. Everything is perfectly situated in one place making it easily accessible: https://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/blog/post/virtual-panama-city-beach-experience/.
Loudon County, Tennessee
Known as the Lakeway to the Smokies, Loudon County has Tennessee views for days…and they never grow old. Often a favorite spot for travelers to the Smoky Mountains, Loudon County is mighty convenient being nestled between Knoxville and Chattanooga with Interstate access from I-75 and I-40. It’s a great time to request a free visitors guide for future travel plans.
A Philadelphia-based business, Sweetwater Valley Farm is a wonderful place to visit as it’s a working dairy farm and cheese plant. Annually, they produce some 350,000 pounds of cheese and welcome over 100,000 visitors to the farm to see their animals, taste cheese and take home edible souvenirs from the onsite stores. Get a virtual tour and hear their story on the website.
Martin County, Florida
Exciting Martin County is conveniently located on Florida’s Treasure Coast just 45 minutes from Palm Beach International Airport, an hour from Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, 90 minutes from Miami International Airport and two hours from Orlando International Airport. Travelers of all ages find Martin County to be perfect for families with activities galore. With social distancing in full force, there are some awesome tidbits that are accessible online to help get you through these tough no-travel-in-person days.
Martin County TV offers engaging and educational series as well as one-off videos that will acquaint you with the area from your laptop, tablet or phone. Also, check out their You Tube channel for short, well-done videos that will bring smiles to your face.
Need more? A collection of live web cams give folks a birds eye view of what’s going on at the gorgeous beaches like Jensen Beach on Hutchinson Island, the House of Refuge and Bathtub Beach. The House of Refuge offers a cool live surf cam that viewers can actually take control of to have a more personal look around.
Follow along with the Martin County Library System as they are working to put together a virtual story-time live stream for the younger audience as in-person story-times are currently on hold. In the meantime, current cardholders can access lots of free tools to stay occupied (Ancestry.com, Rosetta Stone and online classes through Lynda.com are a few of them).
Oldham County is a Kentucky community located conveniently on Interstate 71, only 20 minutes from downtown Louisville. Here upscale bourbons meet small town historic Main Street filled with unique gems. Use this time at home to plan a future trip focused on enjoying wineries, bourbon tours, small town charm and so much more, keeping in mind that Oldham is the “Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky.”
Take in the beauty while gaining knowledge of the area through videos and information housed on their Facebook page. There is so much to do that is found Only in Oldham!
Onslow County, North Carolina
Encompassing the areas of Richlands, Jacksonville, Camp Lejeune, North Topsail Beach, Sneads Ferry and Swansboro, Onslow County can be found off I-95, north of Wilmington and east of Raleigh and I-40. Full of history and coastal recreation, this North Carolina county offers family fun with great multi-generational options.
In an effort to promote social distancing, the Onslow County Museum is offering virtual tours of its exhibits and programs on their website. Check back often for new videos exploring different aspects of the museum’s galleries as well as educational family programs.
Have some fun checking out new-each-morning videos from the rangers at Hammocks Beach State Park on their Facebook page. Each short nature clip will be educational and fun, including some links for resources and ideas for things you can do at home with the kids.
North Topsail Beach also offers a live feed link that’s great to check out from home. Kids can see birds along with changes in water and weather.
Hammock Coast, South Carolina
Of course, nature is a friend to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, where guests and locals find a myriad of experiences like fishing, kayaking, crabbing and more on the beaches and rivers. If you are local, you already know that miles of unspoiled and uncrowded beaches make this an awesome place to re-center your mind enjoying breezy days while keeping social distance from everyone.
Use this time at home to plan a future getaway to places like Pawleys Island on South Carolina’s coast. Located seventy miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, the four-mile-long, quarter-mile-wide town is reminiscent of a fairy tale destination for memory-making with generations of family and total relaxation. Pawleys Island is one of the oldest beach resort areas in the nation and offers charming reminders of yesteryear through antebellum homes and a laid-back atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to keep in mind for a much-needed future getaway.
West Volusia County, Florida
Nestled between Orlando and Daytona, West Volusia County encompasses 14 communities with authentic downtown areas like top-rated DeLand (known for Kermit’s Key Lime Pie Shoppe, Skydive DeLand and other nearby attractions) and the scenic St. Johns River.
A fantastic way to learn more about West Volusia County and see its natural side is by watching these beautifully made videos…keeping you a safe distance from everyone yet feeling like you’re right in the mix of everything Florida.
- Episode 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW01UbX1GWQ
- Episode 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGNKwZpE-WA&t=64s
- Episode 3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHoGnFdJryg&t=6s
- Episode 4 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y-T9XcATvo&t=5s
- Episode 5 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PFeUFYYwBk
- Episode 6 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CnX6LjvhhY&t=48s
- Grand Tour (1:30) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B31cCU3bzjw
Take advantage of these opportunities to learn and enjoy destinations you’ll soon be able to visit again. They’ll be back… and so will you.
Photo Credit: Pawley’s Island, SC photo courtesy of Christopher John