We imagined our summers would be spent hopping on flights, touring through cities, exploring nature, and going off the grid.

But our summers are actually being spent working through deadlines, finding new ways to reinvent our businesses, getting creative with at-home entertainment, and managing different layers of anxiety and stress. The pandemic can put a significant wrench in our productivity and our ability to use our imagination.

6 virtual tours that will help you beat writer’s block

Rather than forcing yourself to push through another hour-long stretch of writer’s block, why not get out of town? You know — without ever leaving your home! Thanks to tourism boards, museums, and organizations that quickly sprung into action, there are countless virtual tours available online.

Not only will these provide a much-needed break, but who knows, it could spark an idea that leads to a story assignment!

Here, our six recommendations to get you started:

  • Learn all about coral in the Caribbean.
  • Explore ancient art from Thailand.
  • Activate your inner child at the Strong Museum of Play.
  • Have a nice laugh through the National Comedy Center.
  • Stop and ‘smell’ the roses at a botanical garden.
  • Go on a digital South African safari.

1. Learn how to grow coral.

In a series of modules available on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram at no cost, you will learn about the history of coral and how it relates to gardening. Guided by The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI), you’ll follow along with the fascinating story behind this endangered species, including how climate change and coral bleaching have impacted its ability to thrive. Not only is this interesting, but the visual elements are colorful and eye-opening.


2. Explore ancient art from Thailand.

For the first time ever, Thailand’s Arts of Kingdom is opening its jewel box, and showing off some of the most renowned and precious stone creations in the country’s history. As you follow the story online via YouTube, you’ll see masterpieces like ‘Suphannabhetra,’ a ship made of gold nielloware and filigreed gold sheets, as well as ‘Model of Sri Prapassorachai Royal Barge,’ which was formed with gilded carved wood, gold niello, gold lacquer, endless diamonds, and other jewels.


3. Activate your inner child at the Strong Museum of Play.

It’s hard to have a kid-like wonder in times of chaos, but perhaps a virtual visit to the Strong Museum of Play will help. They’ve created a remote experience that takes you through the most extensive collection of toys, dolls, and games. Once you’ve explored the space, you can return to their Facebook page for daily updates and activities, like DIY crafts and at-home game ideas.


4. Have a nice laugh through the National Comedy Center.

Let’s be candid: We all could use a hearty, from-your-belly laugh right about now. By virtually visiting the National Comedy Center’s Anywhere tour, you will get just that. Most of the content on this new platform is free, but if you like it, you can upgrade to access more of the museum’s exhibits and collections. There’s plenty to pick from including ‘The Stand Up Lounge,’ ‘The Movie House,’ or ‘The Blue Room,’ which is only for those 18 and older.


5. Stop and “smell” the roses at a botanical garden.

While many abide by stay-at-home orders from state governments, spring has sprung all around us. And because of social distancing practices, botanical gardens aren’t open for business as they usually would be during their most popular season. However, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Va., has opened its virtual doors. Get inspired by the fresh blooms and colorful flowers by taking this nature-filled digital tour.


6. Go on a digital South African safari.

Witnessing some of the planet’s most incredible creatures on a safari in Africa is on most people’s bucket list. Since making the long trip to South Africa isn’t possible right now, WildEarth TV has created Safari Live for free. After registering, you can tune in daily for tours starting at sunrise and running through sunset. Gamekeepers livestream directly from the bush and wear earpieces to answer questions in real-time. Expect to see lions, elephants, buffalos, and much more.