32 fun, free things to do online if you're stuck at home during a second lockdown

·10 min read
virtual experiences
You can virtually explore theme parks, museums, luxury hotels, and more from home. Disney/Songquan Deng/Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
  • Many parts of the world and some US states like Oregon, New Mexico, and Washington have imposed second lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Those staying home might be struggling to find ways to entertain themselves, but museums, national landmarks, theaters, and more are stepping in to help by offering free, virtual experiences.

  • Celebrity chefs have also offered virtual cooking classes, and you can even take a free online course at Harvard.

  • Here's a running list of the free and fun things you can do online to pass the time.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

You can access a myriad of virtual museums in the coming weeks.

British Museum interior
You can explore museums online. Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

Famed museums like the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, and London's British Museum are offering online experiences, allowing viewers to learn about the exhibits in the museums from the comfort of their homes.

You can mosey through national parks from the comfort of the couch.

grand canyon
You can visit parks like the Grand Canyon virtually. Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Many of the United States' national parks are available for viewing thanks to Google Earth and Google Arts & Culture, including the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.

You can pretend you're exploring some of the world's most famous theaters through virtual tours.

Carnegie Hall
You can take virtual tours of theaters. Peter Kramer/Getty Images

Although they're physically closed to the public right now, theaters and opera houses like Carnegie Hall in New York are available through Google Arts & Culture.

You can transport yourself to some of the world's most popular theme parks, including Disney World.

disney world
Disney is offering virtual tours of its theme parks. Disney

360-degree tours of Disney parks like Disney World, Disneyland, and even Epcot are available through Google Street View, so you can bring the magic of the parks into your home.

You can even take it a step further through virtual roller coaster rides.

roller coaster
You can watch videos of roller coaster rides on YouTube. Doug Lemke/Shutterstock

There are a plethora of videos of roller coaster rides on YouTube, with clips of everything from Space Mountain at Disney World to Six Flags' Kingda Ka.

Just search your favorite coasters on YouTube, and you'll likely find video footage of the ride.

Colleges are offering free online classes during the pandemic, and Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale are participating.

harvard campus
The campus of Harvard Business School and Harvard University, July 26, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts. Brooks Craft/Corbis via Getty Images

You can use your abundant free time to enroll in some college courses through the platforms Coursera and EdX. 

All of the classes on the platforms are free to audit, and there are hundreds of courses in a variety of subject matters available from top universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale.

You can learn more about the courses available here.

Watch virtual cooking lessons from famous chefs.

Antoni makes an omelette
Antoni Porowski making his "Keep Calm-lette." Instagram/Antoni Porowski

Famous chefs are offering cooking tips and advice for those in isolation or quarantine during the pandemic. Antoni Porowski has even started a series on his Instagram called "Quar Eye" to share recipes.

You can stay active through a variety of online resources.

at home workout
You can take workout classes at home. Shutterstock

There are countless at-home workout videos on YouTube, and apps can also come in handy for exercising at home. 

You can check out Business Insider's favorite health apps here.

Play old-school games like Words With Friends and Draw Something.

person texting
You can play games on your phone. leungchopan/Shutterstock

They've gone out of style in recent years, but your phone has access to thousands of games that make time fly.

Games that allow you to socialize with your friends from a distance, like Words With Friends and Draw Something, will be particularly enjoyable as you practice social distancing.

Aquariums and zoos across the country are livestreaming their animals to make people feel less alone.

baby elephant san diego zoo
You can livestream zoos. San Diego Zoo

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is livestreaming and the San Diego Zoo has both pre-recorded and live footage of its animals.

Help conservationists in Kenya track and classify wildlife.

A giraffe runs in Amboseli National park, Kenya August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Wildwatch Kenya virtually transports volunteers to Northern Kenya to identify types of wildlife in a conservation area. 

You can take virtual tours of landmarks from far corners of the world.

eiffel tower
You can view landmarks online. r.nagy/Shutterstock

Google's Arts & Culture section comes in handy for checking out the sights from home.

You can explore some of the wonders of the world online, including the  Taj Mahal in New Delhi, India; the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; or even the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

There's no shortage of social media content amid the pandemic.

The Quarantine Crew
Social media is as entertaining as ever. The Quarantine Crew/TikTok

Social media users are bringing COVID-19 into their content, whether it be through memes or TikToks, giving you plenty of things to scroll through at home.

Celebrities are getting in on the fun too, like Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown from "The Bachelorette."

Google Street View lets you travel to exotic places without leaving home.

google street view volcano
Google Street View transports you to different locations. Google

Google Street View makes you feel like you're walking down the road to wherever you want.

Just enter your ideal location, and you'll be transported.

Have a virtual happy hour with your friends.

Zoom allows you to gather with large groups of people digitally. Getty

Many people are turning to platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts for virtual meetings, but you can also use them to spend time with your friends.

Organize a group happy hour, and sign on at the same time to make it feel like you're together even when you're not. 

You can download NASA's mobile app for free to take a virtual tour of its facilities.

NASA houston johnson space center
NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston in 2019. Michael Wyke/AP

NASA's free Space Center Houston app offers a tour of its educational facility, as well as VR experiences and astronaut selfies.

You can partake in virtual meditation or online group therapy.

There are virtual mental health resources. Luna Vandoorne/Shutterstock

There are a variety of online mental health resources that can help those who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether it be through virtual therapy, a meditation app, or following mental health professionals who can help on social media, you can find resources that are right for you.

Keep your mind sharp with some viral brain teasers.

couple looking at phone
You can do brain teasers. GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Brain teasers both take up time and give you the mental dexterity that watching TV all day can't.

You can check out brain teasers that went viral to help you pass the time here.

Other museums are offering moments of zen to help people stay calm.

infinity mirrored room museum moment of zen Yayoi Kusama
Museums are offering calming exhibits online. Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty

A quick search for #MuseumMomentsOfZen will lead you to dozens of relaxing exhibits that will keep you calm and entertained. 

Ranker, a site dedicated to ranking anything and everything, is perfect for passing the time.

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You can rank things. Ranker

The site allows you to rank whatever you want, making it a great way to pass the time.

Some dance studios are offering virtual dance parties to make staying home more fun.

Dance Church
An Insider reporter attends Dance Church — a free virtual dance class. Joey Hadden/Business Insider

One Insider reporter attended a live-streaming donation-based dance class that takes place online a few times a week, and it made her feel less alone during lockdown.

Get painting lessons from Bob Ross.

Bob Ross
Take painting lessons. Bob Ross/Youtube

Bob Ross' "The Joy of Painting" show is available in full on YouTube, so it's never been easier to learn how to paint from the master himself.

Order painting supplies, log on, and you're ready to go.

You can watch Ross' video tutorials here.

Children can also attend virtual classes from museums.

south korea computer kid
Kids can attend virtual classes. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The Natural History Museum of Utah offers on-demand classes for middle-school aged students.

They can learn about everything from dinosaurs to the environment. Classes stream live at 9:30 am, but you can access recordings of the lessons anytime here.

You can take free music production classes on the Grammy Museum website.

lady gaga Grammy Awards
Lady Gaga attends the Grammy Awards on January 31, 2010. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Awards shows and concerts are on hold for the time being, but you can perfect your music skills while you wait for them to come back on the Grammy Museum website.

The site is offering free, virtual video webinars in video production, as well as music history and other subjects.

You can see what you would look like as a Renaissance painting.

Screen Shot 2020 04 01 at 3.45.41 PM
A website transforms selfies into Renaissance paintings. AI Art

The artist AI Gahaku created a website that transforms selfies into Renaissance paintings.

You can upload your own photo and test it out here.

Budget Direct offers people a glimpse at what ruins of castles might have looked like in their prime.

Poenari Castle
Budget Direct reimagined the Poenari Castle. fotokon/Getty Images

If you're interested in ancient architecture, you'll love Budget Direct's new series on renovated castles.

The site spotlights gifs of what seven different ruins of castles might have looked like in their prime, such as the Poenari Castle in Romania.

You can check it out here.

You can stream the views and sounds of hotels around the world to make it feel like you're on vacation.

St Barths
You can livestream hotels. Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

You can get a taste of what a luxury vacation would be like thanks to hotels that are offering livestreams.

Hotels in California and Israel are all streaming their views. The sound of beach waves is just a click away.

Listening to podcasts will help you pass the time.

man sleeping headphones
Listen to podcasts. Shutterstock

There are countless podcasts available to listen to for free online, and the increased time gives you the perfect opportunity to get to know some new audio experiences.

Whether you're interested in true crime, politics, or reality TV, there's a podcast for you.

Explore mars from the comfort of your Earth home.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover
A self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the robot at a drilled sample site called "Duluth" on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp in Mars on June 20, 2018. NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover recorded some footage of the planet, and NASA worked with Google to turn the footage into a virtual tour of the Martian surface.

Watch the quarantine rendition of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series.

flaming lips npr
The Flaming Lips perform for NPR's Tiny Desk Home Concerts. NPR Music/YouTube

NPR hosts intimate concerts in Washington, DC, and posts them on YouTube. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, NPR Music's Tiny Desk is now operating remotely.

They are still releasing new performances, but instead of at the Tiny Desk, they are filmed in artists' own spaces.

Explore the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough.

great barrier reef  turtle
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. Michael Smith ITWP/Shutterstock

David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef virtual tour combines videos, photos, graphics, text, and interactive elements to transport viewers to the reef. 

Online tutorials can help you become a makeup pro.

makeup tutorial halloween costume 2018
Watch makeup tutorials. puhhha/Shutterstock

Makeup tutorials are always fun to watch, but you can use the plethora of time you have at home to perfect your makeup skills. 

And you won't have to worry about messing anything up since no one will see you.

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