Social distancing may have put an end to your spring break plans, but kids can still go on safari, tour the Statue of Liberty, explore a cluster of fog-shrouded islands and more—all thanks to live webcams, augmented reality apps and HD recordings. Read on for our guide to an epic spring break experience you can have right at home.

Day 1: San Diego

Meet the Animals at San Diego Zoo & Zoo Safari Park

Courtesy of San Diego Zoo

The next best thing to actually being at San Diego Zoo and Zoo Safari Park? Seeing the animals live and up close via the 10 wildlife live cams. Watch rhinos resting alongside antelopes, orangutans swinging from ropes and pandas snoozing in trees. (The cams also feature elephants, koalas, condors, tigers, baboons and more.) You could easily spend all morning "in the wild," exploring the various animals and their habitats.

Take a Ride on SeaWorld's Emperor Dive Coaster

The coaster may have even opened yet, but SeaWorld provided a preview of the Emperor penguin-inspired ride. Daredevils can experience what it's like to climb more than 150 before plunging down and into a series of swirling, upside-down loops. Craving more coaster fun? Check out videos of the park's other rides, including the Tidal Twister, Journey to Atlantis and more. 

Visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve with the Socks

via YouTube

Join the Socks, a family of cheeky sock puppets, on a trip to the 1,500-acre natural reserve. See the Torrey pine ("the rarest pine tree in the whole country," according to Mr. Sock), cacti, stunning beach views and more. In addition to visiting Torrey Pines, the Socks have also have made stops at LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Birch Aquarium tide pools. See all the entertaining, 1-minute videos here

Day 2: SF Bay Area

Visit the Farallon Islands

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences offers a Farallon Islands webcam—which lets visitors queue up to control where to point the camera to find the amazing marine mammals and seabirds of the islands. Don't miss out also on the penguin webcam featuring the African penguins in their enclosure at the California Academy of Sciences. Daily feedings at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. PST.

Check Out The Golden Gate Bridge

Candice Y. via Yelp

Virtually visit Crissy Beach for the best views of the 1.7-mile suspension bridge, connecting San Francisco and Marin counties. Insider tip: If it shows "Controls Available" you can take control of the camera and zoom in on points in the distance like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. 

Stop by Pier 39

This webcam will give you a live look at the PIER 39 sea lions and Alcatraz Island. Learn all about these amazing creatures and why they came to live at PIER 39 after the 1989 earthquake here

See the sea lions here:

Day 3: New York, New York

Tour the Statue of Liberty

Henry Wang via Flickr

With this top-reviewed, free app from the Ellis Island Foundation, kids can enjoy multiple AR (aka augmented reality), allowing you to explore the iconic monument from new perspectives. Features include a life-size 3D model of the Statue of Liberty’s left foot, a time-lapse video of the Manhattan skyline from the view of Lady Liberty's crown, and a rare view from the statue's torch, which closed to the public back in 1916. 

See a Broadway Show

Randy Lemoine flickr

What's a trip to NYC without a Broadway show? Thanks to theater-streaming service, BroadwayHD, you can score a seven-day free trial and enjoy a high-definition performance in front of a live audience. Kid-friendly favorites include Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan, Bye Bye Birdie, The Sound of Music and The King and I.

Go Back in Time at the American Museum of Natural History

Ryan P. via Yelp

The American Museum of Natural History has got lots of ways to engage kids and keep them thinking. You can visit the museum virtually through its YouTube channel, plus head over to Facebook for Facebook live events for tours happening at 2 p.m. ET. The museum also offers the OLogy science website, where kids and families can find fun activities and games to learn about the natural world around them.

Day 4: Seattle

Stop By the Seattle Aquarium

courtesy Seattle Aquarium

You may not be able to listen to a diver talk at the Window on Washington Waters or marvel at the fish swimming above under the dome, but if you miss seeing the playful harbor seals and sea otters who always seem to steal the show when you visit, you can check in on them via the aquarium’s live webcam stream. After you’ve watched them play, take time to browse the aquarium’s virtual YouTube library. Here you can take a deep dive into feedings, trainings and other marine-related topics that are sure to educate and entertain.

Listen to the Seattle Symphony

Carlin Ma

Grab a glass and fill those sippy cups. Then sit back and relax because you’re going to the symphony… at home. In an effort to “provide strength, comfort and joy” the Seattle Symphony will be rebroadcasting and livestreaming performances throughout March. Upcoming performances are scheduled for Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and can be viewed via YouTube and Facebook. Tune in to get announcements about future performances so you don’t miss out, or sit down to enjoy already posted shorts (they've got Sir-Mix-A-Lot) in between upcoming performances.

Don't Miss the Iconic. Space Needle

Seattle's Space Needle

If that cooped up feeling sets in, click on to the Space Needle webcam to get a fresh perspective. The 360-degree views mean you and the kids can watch the ferries come in from Bainbridge, spy on your favorite museums, even see if the mountain is out from behind a screen.

Day 5: Chicago

Visit Wrigley Field

Photo by Heather Maguire on Unsplash
Heather Maguire on Unsplash

MLB is on a hiatus for now, but check in on the iconic Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, via the webcam with views of the famous sign. Wave to the runners you'll see periodically move across the screen and dream of warm summer days getting a sunburn in the bleacher seats, heckling anyone putting ketchup on their hot dog. 

Take a Baking Class at the Hilton

The Hilton Chicago is famous for their desserts, but since you can't sample them on site, try whipping them up at home. Here are two of the most popular recipes straight from the source: the Palmer House Brownie and the signature Hilton Chicago Carrot Cake pop!


–Shannan Rouss


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