While Illinoisians are sheltering in place and all of the state’s attractions have closed their doors, many have opened a window for you to glimpse through and find a quick getaway from these troubling times. From outdoor treks through Galena to an exhibit by exhibit tour of a museum, you can explore much of what the state has to offer from the comfort of your couch until you can visit in person later.
We’ll continue to share new experiences for you to take a look at as we discover them, but for now, here is a non-exhaustive list of places to virtually tour throughout our state.
The Windy City is home to many wonderful museums and attractions that have flung open the virtual doors to welcome visitors from around the world to explore. In a few short hours you can see many of the cities’ famous sites which would normally take you longer than a day to enjoy.
Kick your museum tour off with the Shedd Aquarium, home to more than 1,500 species, including sea otters, seahorses, beluga whales, and more. You can get a closer look at the many aquatic life in their natural habitat than you would if you actually visited the aquarium itself. With the Shedd’s virtual online tours, you can get a personal trip through exhibits and see the work museum employees do to keep the aquarium maintained for us to return to.
Next, the Adler Planetarium offers a galaxy of virtual exhibits and walk-throughs with digitized images and artifacts. The exhibits allow you to dive into the history of women in space to first-hand stories from Apollo 11’s mission to the Moon.
More than 40,000 of the works within the Art Institute of Chicago’s walls have been digitized in high-resolution for you to enjoy comfortably at home. While the array of art available can seem overwhelming at first, take your time to enjoy the museum’s more notable works, such as Monet’s Water Lilies, and explore from there.
For families feeling the pressure of finding things to do, the Museum of Science and Industry is offering kid-friendly interactive activities, games, videos and exhibits covering a wide range of topics - from engineering to biology and beyond.
You can also keep your little writers engaged by taking a virtual tour of the American Writers Museum
Springfield & Peoria
At the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, historians and other members of the library and museum team will be getting together on Thursdays at 7PM each week to explore a variety of historical subjects. You’ll even have the opportunity to ask questions of the experts themselves.
You can keep your kids entertained at home with help from the Kidzeum of Health and Science. With daily story times, science lessons and experiments and activities posted daily on their Facebook page, the museum is offering a constant stream of fun and learning.
The Peoria Riverfront Museum is offering its own stream of events and learnings for you to tune in daily, including science experiments and virtual art clubs. But you won't want to miss out on their Music Mondays as Illinois folk musicians gather to celebrate the "Year of Guitar" right in your living room.
Shawnee Forest Country in Southern Illinois
You can get a feel for the Garden of the Gods’ breathtaking views from the comfort of your home. Nestled between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers in southern Illinois, The Forest’s landscape features rolling hills, forests, open lands, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs.
The Cave-in-Rock State Park is steeped in history of river pirates. Discover the overhanging bluffs through a short video created by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources offering insight into the cave and incredible views along the Ohio River.
Rolling Oak Alpaca Ranch is a maker in the Illinois Made program that spotlights authentic experiences around the state. You can get virtually up close and personal with an alpaca and see what a day on the ranch looks like via their vlog series on their Facebook, posted semi-regularly, a couple times a week.
Galena & Rockford
Looking for something a little different? Try experiencing the simple joy of hiking alongside frolicking goats through native prairies and forests in Galena with the Hoof It Goat Treks. Definitely an experience you’ll need to try when we can leave our homes.
The Nicholas Conservatory includes an 11,000 square foot plant exhibition area complete with water features, seating areas, and sculptures, all in a tropical plant setting. The conservatory is now offering a live stream of the conservatory to enjoy from your couch, while you imagine your home as more lush and tropical than it likely is.
Oak Park & Brookfield
Oak Park - and the surrounding Chicagoland area - is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings in the world. Fortunately, you can view many of these buildings, including some of the iconic architect’s most influential works, up close from the comfort of your own home with these wonderful video tours.
The Brookfield Zoo has set up new live streams to give you and your family videos of a different zoo animal each day. To date, the zoo has featured Mexican wolves, snakes, and a bearcat while professional zookeepers provide informative and interesting narration. Viewers can even ask questions to be answered in real time.