Best Virtual Field Trips

virtual field trip
Exploring Machu Picchu in Peru, via You Visit (Image credit: You Visit)

As school budgets continue to shrink and classroom time is at a premium, virtual field trips have become a great opportunity for educators to help students experience places around the globe without getting on a bus, or even leaving their classroom.

Being able to see and experience a significant cultural institution, historic site, or natural landscape with the help of immersive technology, such as virtual or augmented reality, can help make lessons more engaging and exciting.

Here are the best virtual field trips for education, organized by art museums, history museums, civics-related sites, aquariums and nature sites, STEM-related experiences, and more!

Virtual Art Museum Tours

- Benaki Museum, Greece Showcasing the development of Greek culture, including more than 120,000 artworks from the Paleolithic Era to modern day. 

- British Museum, London Explore more than 4,000 years of art and historical objects from around the world.

- National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C Features more than 40,000 American works of art, including paintings, works on paper, and etchings. 

- Musee d’Orsay, Paris Displays art created between 1848 and 1914, including works by van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Monet, and Degas

- National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea The representative museum of modern Korean visual art, plus architecture, design and crafts.

- Pergamon, Berlin, Germany Features sculpture, artifacts, and other items from ancient Greece. 

- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands Home to the largest collection of artworks by Vincent van Gogh in the world, including more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 of the artist's letters.

- Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy A dynastic collection of ancient sculpture, artwork, and artifacts, established by the renowned Medici family.

- MASP, Sao Paolo, Brazil Brazil's first modern museum, displaying 8,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, objects, photographs, and costumes from a range of periods, encompassing Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. 

- National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, Mexico Devoted to the archaeology and history of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic civilizations.

- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston A comprehensive collection that ranges from prehistoric times to modern day, featuring world-renowned paintings by Rembrandt, Monet, Gauguin, and Cassatt, plus mummies, sculpture, ceramics, and masterpieces of African and Oceanic art.

- The Frick Collection, New York Distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts.

- J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles Works of art dating from the eighth through the twenty-first century, including European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European, Asian, and American photographs.

- The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Thousands of artworks—from world-renowned icons (Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Hopper) to lesser-known gems from every corner of the globe—as well as books, writings, reference materials, and other resources.

- The Metropolitan Museum of Art A colossal collection of art, cultural objects, and historical artifacts from over 5,000 years of human history. 

- The Louvre Museum Packed with iconic works of art, from da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and other renowned artists.

Virtual History Museum Tours

- National Museum of the United States Air Force The oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world features dozens of vintage aircraft and hundreds of historical objects. 

- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History One of the largest repositories of natural history on the planet, featuring more than 145 million artifacts and specimens. 

- National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Home to an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts, including paintings, sculpture, photographs, and historical objects. 

- The Prague Castle, Czechoslovakia Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, consisting of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. 

- The Colosseum, Rome One of the most iconic structures in world history.

- Machu Picchu, Peru Explore the 15th-century mountaintop citadel built by the Inca. 

- The Great Wall of China One of the wonders of the world, stretching more than 3,000 miles across multiple provinces of China

- The National WWII Museum’s Manhattan Project virtual field trip A cross-country virtual expedition to discover the science, sites, and stories involved with the creation of the atomic bomb.

- Discovering Ancient Egypt In addition to stories of the great kings and queens, learn about the ancient Egyptian gods and mummification, pyramids, and temples through interactive maps, photos, drawings, and paintings. 

- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock Virtual Tour Through personal stories, interactive media, and pop culture artifacts, explore seven decades of history, from the dawn of the nuclear age to the significant policy questions of today.

- U.S. Capitol Virtual Tour Video tours of historic rooms and spaces, some of which are not open to the public, research resources, and teaching materials.

Civics Virtual Field Trips

- Virtual Field Trip to the Census Bureau A behind-the-scenes introduction to the U.S. Census Bureau, featuring exclusive interviews with subject matter experts.

- National Constitution Center Virtual Tour A virtual interactive multimedia tour of the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Philadelphia.

- Virtual field trip to Ellis Island Hear first-hand stories told by those who came through Ellis Island, see historical photographs and films, and read fascinating facts.

- The City of U.S. Virtual Field Trip A virtual field trip of Washington, D.C., hosted by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

- I Do Solemnly Swear: The U.S. Presidential Inauguration Featuring questions submitted by students and answered by experts, this virtual field trip travels to our nation's capital to explore the Presidential Inauguration, past and present.

Aquariums & Nature Parks Virtual Field Trips 

- National Aquarium Home to 20,000 animals covering 800 species, from the depths of the ocean to the canopy of the rain forest. 

- Georgia Aquarium Live webcam feeds for aquatic creatures, such as beluga whales, penguins, alligators, sea otters, and even underwater puffins.

- San Diego Zoo Live looks at koala, baboons, apes, tigers, platypuses, penguins, and more. 

- Five U.S. National Parks Explore Kenai Fjords in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawai'i, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah, and Dry Tortugas in Florida.

- Yellowstone National Park (live cams) Nine webcams—one live-streaming and eight static—provide views of around the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs, Mount Washburn, the West Entrance, and the Upper Geyser Basin.

- Mystic Aquarium One of three U.S. facilities holding Steller sea lions, and it has the only beluga whales in New England. 

- Monterey Bay Aquarium (live cams) Ten live cams, including sharks, sea otters, jellyfish, and penguins.

- Son Doong Cave The world's largest natural cave, located in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park in Vietnam.

- PORTS (California Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students)  K-12 students can connect with live interpretive staff and learn academic content standards within the context of California’s dynamic State Park System. 

STEM Virtual Field Trips

- NASA at Home Virtual tours and apps from NASA, including tours of the Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, International Space Station, and Hubble Space Telescope Mission Operations Center, plus excursions to Mars and the Moon.

- California Science Center Build your own virtual field trip for grades K-5 with NGSS-aligned content, in both English and Spanish.

- Carnegie Science Center Exhibit Explorations Students in grades 3-12 explore the science behind Carnegie Science Center's most popular exhibits, with an interactive focus on engineering/ robotics, animals, space/astronomy and the human body.

- Stanley Black & Decker Makerspace Students can see and experience first-hand how math, science, technology, creativity, and teamwork can lead to technological advancements.

- Slime in Space Take students 250 miles above Earth to the International Space Station to learn along with astronauts how slime reacts to microgravity compared to how water reacts. 

- Clark Planetarium Virtual Skywatch Free for schools, virtual versions of the live “Skywatch” planetarium dome presentations that directly correlate to 6th grade and 4th grade SEEd astronomy standards. 

- Alaska Volcano Observatory Alaska's active volcanoes offer superb opportunities for basic scientific investigations of volcanic processes.

- The Nature Conservancy’s Nature Lab virtual field trips Designed for grades 5-8 but customizable for all ages, each virtual field trip contains a video, teacher guide, and student activities.

- Great Lakes Now Virtual Field Trip Learn more about the importance of coastal wetlands, the danger of algal blooms, and a deep dive into lake sturgeon. Designed for 6-8th grade.

- Access Mars Explore the real surface of Mars, as recorded by NASA's Curiosity rover.

- Easter Island The story of a team of archaeologists and a 75-person crew who sought to unravel how the hundreds of giant stone statues that dominate the island's coast were moved and erected.

- FarmFresh360 Learn about Canadian food and farming in 360º.

- Virtual Egg Farm Field Trips Visit modern egg farms across the United States.

- Online agriculture education curriculum The American Royal Field Trip features a virtual tour of production agriculture; innovation and technology; and the food system. Lesson plans, activities, and short quizzes are also provided.

Miscellaneous Virtual Field Trips

- American Writers Museum new live Virtual Field Trips feature a guided exploration of AWM’s permanent exhibits or two online exhibits; staff-led interactive gameplay and pop quizzes about major literary works; and Writer Wednesdays, offering students a weekly opportunity to connect with a published author about the craft of writing.

- Kahn Academy Imagineering in a Box Go behind the scenes with Disney Imagineers and complete project-based exercises to design a theme park.

- Google Arts & Culture Explore galleries, museums, and more.

Ray Bendici is the Managing Editor of Tech & Learning and Tech & Learning University. He is an award-winning journalist/editor, with more than 20 years of experience, including a specific focus on education.