Can we put ‘escapism’ on our CVs after months of lockdown? We hope so.
Anyway, housebound travellers looking for somewhere new to explore from the comfort of their sofa are in luck – the good guys over at Visit Florida have compiled a list of ways to virtually experience the Sunshine State, including a video playlist with 14 videos that bring you some of the best outdoor Florida experiences, a calendar of virtual events taking place throughout April and May, and the Beach Finder Tool that allows you to virtually roam 825 miles of Florida’s coastline. Phew.
So, where do we sign up? Here, actually; our 12 brilliant ways to virtually explore Florida right now.
VISIT FLORIDA’S VIRTUAL VIDEO PLAYLIST
Armchair travellers can sit back and enjoy more than five hours’ worth of video footage on Visit Florida’s YouTube channel. Watch the sunset on the beach whilst sitting around a crackling wood fire, take a dip in Crystal River and swim with manatees, take a horseback ride along the beach on Hutchinson Island and even kayak your way through Rainbow Springs State Park. It’s the best we can do right now, hey?
VIRTUAL FLORIDA EVENTS IN APRIL AND MAY
Whatever your passion, or if you’re looking to ignite a new one, Visit Florida’s virtual calendar has something for everyone to enjoy from their home screens throughout April and May. You can find the full calendar here, but here are a few of our highlights:
FROST SCIENCE AT HOME
The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami has a new digital platform, providing a learning series for children. It gives visitors the opportunity to explore free educational resources, videos, DIY science activities and behind-the-scenes content. It also offers a 360 degrees exploration of a museum’s top exhibitions. Fantastic!
DIVING IN THE FLORIDA KEYS
No swimwear is required for this virtual diving tour of Dry Tortugas National Park, though you could watch it in the bath, if you wish. Dive a shipwreck, swim through the third-largest coral reef in the world and tour a Civil War-era fort. One of the most awe-inspiring sights at the park is the historic Fort Jefferson and its natural beauty that just might inspire a trip there in the future.
TAKE A LOOK AROUND THE BILTMORE HOTEL
A favourite amongst celebrities since its opening in 1926, the Biltmore Hotel is Miami’s most elegant National Historic Landmark. Featuring a sizable library of 360-degree panoramic views, the Biltmore’s virtual tour takes from the Main Lobby through to the Fontana Courtyard and the iconic pool.
LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF FLORIDA
Enjoy virtual tours and Florida stories with a truly engrossing history dating back centuries. From Miami to the Panhandle, you can uncover the rich history of the Sunshine State with the Florida Stories app. It features story scripts written by history experts that are designed to increase your knowledge about local communities.
VISIT THE DALI MUSEUM
Art lovers from all over the world have long enjoyed the superb Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, which has an astounding collection of over 2,400 Salvador Dalí works. Now, anyone can view these works through a free 360-degree tour of the museum, as well as enjoying some special online-only exhibits.
GO BEHIND THE SCENES AT BUSCH GARDENS
While Tampa’s famous, safari-centric theme park is closed to visitors, you can still see and even interact love with animals, rides and other favourite exhibits and areas from a new vantage point. Busch Gardens has been taking its Facebook fans along to an elephant birthday party, snack time for sloths, a flaming flock walk, a ride on Cheetah hunt and more each day, so check out the latest times and get involved!
SHINE MURAL FESTIVAL
In recent years, St. Petersburg’s colourful urban murals have become internationally revered, in part thanks to the SHINE Mural Festival, which takes visitors on several stops via foot or bike. Now, you can enjoy the 90-plus murals from the comfort of your home, complete with vivid descriptions of the artwork, info on the artists and other fun facts.
FLORIDA ORCHESTRA CONCERTS
As a special treat to classical music fans, each Thursday the Florida Orchestra is now broadcasting live recordings. Experience Some of the most powerful moments from the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series, which includes Ravel’s Bolero, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Mason Bates’ Mothership.
VIRTUAL ORLANDO TOURS
Orlando is one of the world’s top playgrounds for theme parks, water parks, entertainment and attractions and the COVID-19 shutdown has left many craving the comfort and fun of their favourite spots. With this in mind, Visit Orlando now provides more than 100 virtual experiences including 360-degree tours, Facebook Live broadcasts, theme park thrills and more. Perhaps you could set up a slide in your front room and imagine you’re on one of the roller coasters?
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT FROM FLORA-BAMA
You can’t sip your margarita with your toes in the sand while listening to live tunes, but you can find a nice spot in your home, pop the top on the beer and join the iconic bar’s daily live stream on Facebook. During performances, give them a shoutout from where you’re listening and make song requests. Lovely stuff.
Not done escaping into your screen and onwards in the States? Then check out these 5 IDEAL ways to bring the sights, sounds and scents of Philadelphia to your sofa this Spring. You won’t regret it.