During this time of being confined to our homes, cabin fever inevitably rears its head. Reward yourself for being safe and making responsible choices by checking out these ways to explore West Michigan—and the world—from the safety of your own home.
The Critter Barn in Zeeland is about kids, families, and community, and works to connect visitors with nature, animals, and where our food comes from. Critter Barn is taking this mission online and will be doing a Facebook Live on the Critter Barn Facebook Page each day at 11 a.m., to take you on a tour through different parts of the farm. Tune in each day to see what's new or check out the videos that have already been posted.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum features exhibits on science, technology, and the history of Southwest Michigan, and is making it easy to learn from its collection online. Each day around noon, the museum will feature a different artifact from its collection on the Kalamazoo Valley Museum Facebook Page. Check out the Fly Fishing Kit below, made by a Kalamazoo local around 1955! You can browse through everything in the Kalamazoo Valley's Museums' collection here, or check out past issues of its magazine museON, which offers great educational pieces for kids who need reading materials.
Even though you aren't able to visit the butterflies at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park right now, you can check in with them on a regular basis! The venue is providing virtual visits while it's closed to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Join Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Facebook Page every day at 10 a.m. for Cozy Tales storytime and at 2 p.m. for a virtual visit related to the mission of horticulture and the arts.
Tour Manistee County from home by exploring the Historic Sites Video Series. Videos in this series showcase more than 100 historic sites that have been documented through eight themed tours and are showcased through HD video featuring historic photos and videos—all beautifully narrated by Manistee native Toni Trucks. Click through other self-guided tours available on the website, including tours of the area's Natural Wonders and Historic Bridges & Dams.
Explore landmarks and attractions in and around Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with 360°online tours. The videos will work on your smartphone or computer and let you control the point-of-view to explore at your own pace. There are 14 videos to check out, including virtual visits to a Soo Locks Boat Tour, the Tower of History, Tahquamenon Falls, Point Iroquois Light Station, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and more.
Join the Michigan Maritime Museum for its online Scavenger Hunt! Each day, it will be posting a photo of an object from the museum. See if you can guess what the object is or where at the museum it's located. It's a great way to gain some historical and nautical knowledge.
The Thornapple Arts Council has put together a great resource to help you find ways to explore the arts online! It has both local and national opportunities, including virtual dance classes, online performing arts and more.
Learn about some of our local wildlife from home, with resources from Blandford Nature Center. Learn about the nature center's Wildlife Ambassadors, including their names, species type, habitat, diet, conservation management and other fun facts. Then once the nature center reopens, plan a visit to meet the Wildlife Ambassadors in real life!
GRAAMA has a wealth of educational resources available on its website for you or your student to dig through. You'll find podcasts, downloadable articles, and even a virtual library.
Dive into the shipwrecks of Lake Superior with the underwater research of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Read the stories and explore images from dives to eight different shipwrecks discovered in Lake Superior.
Feeling crafty? Check out this list of fun craft ideas from the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. Don't have all the materials you need on hand? Use this as a time to challenge your kids to get creative and see what other materials you have around the house that they could swap in!
Dreaming of summer and Mackinac Island? Get closer to the island with the newly launched Mackinac Island podcast series. Each episode gives you a behind-the-scenes experience of one of Mackinac Island's many distinctive features. Learn more about the Grand Hotel, the ferry trip to the island and, of course, the fudge!
The Museum has shifted its live stream camera to showcase the two 10-month-old lake sturgeon featured in the Grand Fish, Grand River exhibition. The GRPM's Collection of more than 250,000 artifacts and specimens can also be explored online for free, anywhere, anytime. The Museum is curating additional digital content specific for families navigating schooling from home. This includes activities, lessons, and curriculum to engage with the Museum's Collections in deep and meaningful ways. Check out the digital resources and content available online.
Find even more ways to explore West Michigan virtually here.
Want to see beyond your own backyard?
Even though most domestic and international travel isn't possible at the moment, that doesn't mean you couldn't still stroll Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, bask in the sunlight of Cannes Beach in France, or bike around Stanley Park in Vancouver. And you don't even have to leave your couch to do it.
How is that possible? Virtual walking tours!
YouTube is full of them, providing a glimpse into the bustling streets and serene nature of some of the most desirable destinations from around the world. We've chosen a few of our favorites to get you started:
Venice Beach, California
Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Ocean Trails Reserve, Palos Verdes, California
The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts
Where will you travel to—virtually—first?
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.