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9 Virtual Activities To Do Inside When Netflix Can No Longer Save You

by Aliza Pelto

While everyone does what they can to flatten the curve — staying inside and working from home when possible — life is bound to get a bit boring and repetitive. Netflix and Hulu will only get you so far. (Seriously, we know you’re just gonna watch Grey’s Anatomy or The Office all over again.) Thanks to 21st century technology, however, social-distancing doesn’t have to be as far away from society and culture as you might think. Here are 7 fun things to do while you’re stuck inside that don’t involve guilt-watching your favorite reality series for the 3000th time.

1. Tour a museum


Right about now, walking around a museum and taking in all the art and antiquities sounds like a dream. While you can’t absorb all the culture and history in person for a few weeks, some of the world’s most famous museums — including ones that you might not even get the chance to go to otherwise — are offering virtual tours.

The famous Louvre in Paris is offering free online tours of some of their most popular exhibits. Using Google Street View technology, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the British Museum are also offering virtual tours of their facilities. The list goes on and on. Countless other famous museums allow one to peruse all of their collections, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the National Portrait Gallery. And, hey! Look at that! The National Women’s History Museum’s collection is available to view virtually alongside their oral histories series.

2. Go to the library


While many bookworms likely have a “to read” pile that has been stacking up for months and will most certainly get them through the next few weeks, some are left without a book on the shelf that they haven’t already read. The good news is that the internet exists. And even though the real library might be closed and locked up, you can still explore the virtual shelves until you find the perfect book.

While many libraries have online databases with eBooks, one with an extensive collection that is now open for perusing is the New York Public Library. The platform, SimplyE, is home to 300,000 titles ranging from magazines to fiction and nonfiction to children’s books. If you already have a library card, you’re good to go. But while the branches are temporarily closed, you can easily apply online. From there, all you have to do is download the app from Google Play or the App Store and get to reading. Arthur the Aardvark really wasn’t kidding when he said “having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card,” was he?


3. Participate in a dance class


Amidst the outbreak, a number of dance studios have begun to offer online classes via platforms like Facebook Live for both children and adults. Whether you dance weekly and will be missing it for the next little while, or have always wanted to get started, now is the perfect time.

While a number of dance studios across the states have begun offering virtual classes, one that stands out as fun and easy to use is the Virginia-based BalletNova Center For Dance. Using Facebook Live, the studio is streaming classes nightly for all different styles of dance including Jazz and Ballet. They offer a number of adult classes, but you could probably even take part in the children’s classes if you’re a little rusty. All of the livestreams are archived after, so you can even tune into the 40-minute sessions the next day. The best part about this? You get to dance like no one’s watching. Because nobody is watching, except for maybe your cat.

4. Attend a music festival


Glastonbury and Coachella may have been delayed, but luckily, Left Bank Magazine came through with a music festival you can enjoy while stuck inside, streaming live at 11 am to 11 pm EST from now until this Sunday, March 22. Dozens of dope artists from across the country are performing, including a few bad-ass and up-and-coming woman artists and lady-led bands.

Because all the artists are participating in the virtual festival for free, audience members can send tips to the Venmo accounts or even order them some food via delivery. Music lovers helping music lovers.

5. Laugh your ass off at a comedy show


At times like this, we could all use a good laugh. So you don’t have to watch the same old stand-up specials on Netflix or re-runs of Saturday Night Life, a number of comedy clubs are coming in clutch with livestreams for your viewing pleasure. Venues like Stand Up NY are offering virtual comedy shows for their LaughPass members or anyone who wants to donate $5 in support and get all-day access. Seriously, laughter really is the best medicine. 

6. See a play of musical


Amidst the outbreak, Broadway went dark. Thankfully, you can now get your musical fix online. By making a $5 monthly donation to PBS (because why not support public broadcasting?), you can watch beloved Broadway musicals and plays from The Sound of Music to Kinky Boots to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Smaller theater companies are reaching out to their fans in order to provide entertainment at this time. New Georges, a theater company that produces plays by women, has thought of “plays for a time of no play,” a series in which it appears they’ll be sending out scripts of tiny plays. By subscribing to their email list, you can get short plays directly to your inbox to put on with your quarantine cohorts.


7. Have a night at the opera


Haven’t you always wanted to have a bougie night at the opera? Well now, you can have one! Better yet, you can have one in your pajamas, with a glass of wine, and from the comfort of your own couch. The Metropolitan Opera has launched a free streaming series people can tune into to catch renowned operas in action while they are closed.

The “Nightly Met Opera Stream” begins at 7:30 each night. If you want to tune in this coming week, they’re holding an “all-Wagner week,” featuring only operas composed by Richard Wagner, beginning with Tristan und Isolde.

8. Hit the club


So, we can’t actually go to bars or clubs anymore. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still support our favorite spots! A few venues around New York have begun to offer live-streams of music and DJs while everyone is apart. One of these classic spots is Nowadays in NYC, which has started to offer boradcasts of DJ sets, educational sessions, and talks every single night from 8 pm to midnight. Post up with a bottle of your favorite beer or a ‘quarantini‘ and enjoy the show. 

And because it’s important to support your local faves at a time like this, you can support them on Patreon and gain full access to their archives, as well as send Venmo donations to their bartenders and staff. 

9. Literally just look at pandas all day


Quite possibly the best and most calming anecdote for being stuck inside in the middle of a pandemic is watching tiny baby animals living their best life. Thankfully, the National Zoo in Washington D.C. has a plan for that. The zoo offers a variety of online exhibits that one can explore virtually, but they also offer an all-day livestream of their Giant Panda enclosure. That’s right, you can watch pandas swinging from trees, sleeping, and munching on bamboo all the livelong day.

In fact, it seems that a lot of aquarium and zoo animals are straight-up vibing since the institutions shut their doors. The Chicago Aquarium let their penguins bumble around the grounds this week, and one could quite literally spend the entire day watching the clips of it. Seriously, they need to release more ASAP so I don’t have to keep watching the same two over and over again.

Header image via Pixabay

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