17 Resources for Virtual Experiences & Online Classes You Can Do at Home
Check out these creative online courses, cooking classes, aquarium webcams, virtual museum tours, in-home travel itineraries and more. Plus, several of these resources are free or discounted right now!
Staying at home doesn’t have to mean you can’t experience anything new. As the world has learned how to find entertainment within their own walls, scores of museums, aquariums, artists, educators, chefs, photographers and more have all risen to the occasion to help people escape without having to open their front door. Here are just a few of the exciting offerings we’ve found to help you armchair travel the world, develop a marketable skill and maybe even find a new hobby you never would have tried a few months ago.
Aside from workshops for hobbies in arts and crafts, Skillshare also offers tutorials in graphic design, animation, creative writing, music, photography and web development. New members get two months of premium Skillshare for free, so it’s a great time to find both activities for you and the family to do together and to consider sharpening some skills that might help you advance in your career. Wanting to wade into interior design? Stylist, author and winner of HGTV Design Star Emily Henderson has a class all about styling and decorating your home.
Creativebug, owned by Joann Fabric, offers hundreds of craft classes for hobbies like sketching, painting, printmaking, watercolor painting, sewing and more. You can buy a monthly subscription to the platform, or you can check out their dozens of free course offerings.
Bluprint offers a huge variety of courses in all kinds of hobbies, like cake decorating, sewing, knitting, crocheting, drawing and embroidering. Many of their courses are currently available for free previewing. You can purchase the courses that aren't free individually, or you can sign up for an annual, all-access subscription for $39.99 for a limited time. (Normally an annual membership costs $79.99 per year!)
Have you ever wanted to learn writing tips from your favorite authors or get a peek into the mind of an actor or musician you admire? MasterClass has partnered with some of the best in their fields to produce stunning online courses with greats like makeup artist Bobbi Brown, scientist Neil deGrasse, urban gardener Ron Finley, chef Gordon Ramsey, adventure photographer Jimmy Chin, editor Anna Wintour, designer Marc Jacobs and bestselling author David Sedaris. MasterClass is currently running a special: if you buy one annual all-access pass for $180, you can get a second for free, perfect for gifting to a friend or family member.
Now’s a great time to practice a new language. Whether you’re daydreaming about a trip to France, want to learn how to speak to your grandmother in Arabic or are hoping to advance your career with conversational Spanish, you can improve your skills with Rosetta Stone's multi-platform language learning program. From now through the end of June, Rosetta Stone is offering free access to its live group coaching classes, so you can practice speaking and listening with others. Parents and guardians of K-12 students who either attend a school that is closed in response to COVID-19 or are homeschooled can get a three-month, no-cost Rosetta Stone for Students subscription for new users or a no-cost, three-month subscription added to the end of a current subscription.
If you want to hone your cooking skills, check out the Food Network Kitchen app where you can take live and on-demand classes to learn recipes, tips and techniques from the experts at Food Network across all of your devices. You can start a free 60-day trial now, and the subscription costs $39.99 a year. If you already have a Fire TV, Food Network is offering a complimentary one-year subscription to Fire TV users right now.
Udemy offers more than 100,000 online courses for nearly everything you can think of, from a course on marketing your Etsy business taught by Etsy shop owner Trissha Taylor to a night photography course from a team of professional photographers who will teach you how to get dreamy photos of a starry night sky. You can take advantage of some free classes, purchase other classes individually or sign up for a monthly subscription for $19.99 that gives you unlimited access to all Udemy classes.
The platform offers thousands of online courses, including several free ones, from accredited universities, major companies and individual experts in a wide variety of topics. Want to learn how to be happier? Apparently, there's a science to it. Yale University has made this wildly popular course, The Science of Well-Being, available for free via Coursera. Coursera also offers certifications and even degree programs. If you want access to 90 percent of the classes available on Coursera, the platform now offers subscriptions through Coursera Plus for $399 for one year, which you can try out with a 14-day trial period and request a refund if you change your mind during that time.
VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES + TOURS
Just because you can't travel right now doesn't mean you can't connect with people all over the world and learn something new about a place you've never visited. Airbnb has launched online experiences so you can learn about coffee from a Mexican cafe owner, learn how to dance the Flamenco from an instructor in Spain, watch an award-winning children's book author in Atlanta read his stories to your kid, do yoga classes led by an Olympic pole vaulter, learn how to make cocktails from an expert and so much more.
Kayak has published half a dozen in-depth guides to beloved metropolises around the world: Mexico City, Paris, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney and London. Aside from information about each city's major attractions, the "itineraries" also offer a mini-lesson in local vernacular and integrations with OpenTable, so you can easily find that country's cuisine at a restaurant offering takeout or delivery near you.
360cities: Explore random corners of the world with 360cities, a site full of gorgeous 360-degree photos you can click and drag through for a bit of an escape. This list of editors’ picks includes beach views from French Polynesia, the Milky Way over a chapel in Poland and the view from the stage of an EDM concert in Toronto.
National Ability Center: The National Ability Center, based in Utah, offers outdoors programming for people of all abilities. Now, to keep people connected and motivated from afar, they’re offering “group” rides for people who are cycling safely in their communities or on bikes in their own homes. You can find their Strava page here to participate. They’re also hosting meditation sessions on Facebook every Thursday through the end of May.
YouVisit Virtual Tours: Thanks to the virtual tour site YouVisit, you can armchair travel to famous tourist attractions from your computer. Check off a bucket-list trip by touring the famous views of Machu Picchu, and wander through the site with 360-degree photos and a guided audio tour.
Google Arts & Culture: Google has partnered with thousands of organizations to offer virtual tours of art and culture museums around the world. Just a few of the offerings include the Palace of Versailles in France, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the National Museum of Art in Mexico, the Sydney Opera House, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Oslo’s Munch Museum, the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, the Tokyo National Museum in Japan and Elbphiliharmonie, the wave-shaped concert hall in Hamburg, Germany.
Aquariums: Many aquariums throughout the United States have posted webcams so you can watch marine life from home. California’s Aquarium of the Pacific, for example, has shark, penguin, jellyfish and reef webcams. The New England Aquarium in Boston goes live on YouTube every day at 11 a.m. ET with a different presentation. The Georgia Aquarium has a live sea otter cam, among others. The National Aquarium in Baltimore has a whole page of live streams, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has online courses about marine life and ocean preservation available for kids of all ages (adults may enjoy them, too).
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Whatever it is you want to learn right now, chances are there’s someone in your own community who can offer it for you. If you want to learn calligraphy, for example, you might find a local stationery shop — like Ladyfingers Letterpress, in Colorado Springs — that’s offering free tutorials via Instagram Live. Because everyone has been forced to move lessons online, this also opens up a lot of previously in-person-only opportunities to anyone who wants to join in. Colombia Immersion, a Spanish language school in Medellín, is offering group and private online classes. Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver has also moved their lessons online, offering courses for all ages in youth literature, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, memoir and other types of writing. In addition to multi-week workshops, they’re offering an hour-long “daily Zoom” class every day. Gyms, yoga studios and individual instructors are also offering online classes, and many musicians are live streaming concerts from their homes. Whatever your interests, consider checking in on your local businesses, musicians, artists and more via their social media pages to find out how you can support them from home while also finding something fun to do.