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grand canyon hiking trail.
Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

Explore the Great Indoors: Virtual Hikes and Natural Wonders You Can See at Home

The world remains a big and beautiful place, even when we’re not out there enjoying it. Whether you have a treadmill at home or are just walking circles around your living room, grab your fitness tracker and start earning steps with these virtual hikes from around the world.

See the World with 360° Video

You could spend days exploring Air Pano’s hundreds of panoramic videos of landscapes as varied as Patagonia and the Sahara Desert. This is the perfect way to go couch-trekking in Bhutan and kitchen-table exploring in the Caribbean. Explore while running on a treadmill to take your own virtual hike. 

Transport Yourself with 4K Virtual Outdoor Hikes

The 4K Relaxation Channel on YouTube has become one of our favorites during this stay-at-home period, and the playlist for virtual hikes has over 45 videos. Transport yourself to Lithuania, Washington State, Hawaii, and more for your next virtual hike.

Stake Out to See the Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights

Add watching for the Northern Lights to your daily “quaran-tine.”’s live cam is set up in Churchill, Manitoba, which is directly beneath the aurora oval. While the peak season ends in March, you might get lucky to see them in early April.

Walk the Camino de Santiago at Home

Hundreds of thousands walk “the Camino” in Spain each year, and while many are unable to this spring and summer, the tour operator Duperier’s Authentic Journeys is bringing the experience to your home with its Facebook group. Track your own walks as if you were going on the pilgrimage and share photos of the experience if you’ve done it before.

Cherry Blossoms Around the World with Google Earth

mt fuji in the spring

See spring cherry blossoms bloom from home with Google Earth’s imagery from 10 sites around the world. From Japan to Brazil, stream this on your TV and picture yourself reading on a park bench.

Costa Rica’s Volcanoes with Google Earth

Arenal volcano in clouds Costa Rica.

See five of the country’s volcanoes up close and personal with Google Earth footage: Arenal Volcano (don’t miss the nearby waterfalls), Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Poas Volcano, Irazu Volcano, and Miravalles Volcano.

See the Faroe Islands with a Local Faroese

faroe islands remote experience video control
The Faroe Islands

This virtual experience is more like a video game, and it’s pretty incredible. The Faroe Islands have outdone themselves with this online experience, which lets you control a live experience. The live tours are set at specific times and locally-based volunteers roam around with a live camera attached to them. Each trip is about an hour-long and viewers have one-minute each to control what they do.

Hike France’s Countryside

Explore France, and learn French while you’re at it, with this series on YouTube. There are three seasons that will take you from the Loire Valley to the Alps, and beyond, to tiny villages deep in the countryside. At seven minutes each, these are the perfect backdrop for a quick treadmill jog or language lesson.

Explore Machu Picchu

Experience what it’s like to view Machu Picchu from all its angles with this interactive, panoramic view of the famed ancient site. Learn more about Peru and other South American sites, with an online course with an archeologist and explorer.

South Africa National Parks with Google Street View

family destination winner south africa

Discover South Africa through its national parks and reserves on Google. There are over 170 trails to explore in all of the country’s 19 national parks and 17 nature reserves, including tourist attractions like Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, and Cape Point.

U.S. National Parks with Google Earth and Live Cams

acadia national park autumn.
Eric Urquhart/Shutterstock

With Google’s latest technology, you can explore over 32 national parks and DIY your own virtual hike. From the Grand Canyon to Acadia or the Badlands, virtually explore U.S. natural wonders without the crowds.

Yellowstone National park alone has nine different webcams for your viewing pleasure. Watch Old Faithful via a live stream with helpful predictions on timed eruptions and more. Read more about other national park webcams, here.

And don’t forget state parks! You can take an online course with a travel journalist and writer about 24 of the nation’s best state parks and help plan your next domestic vacation.

VR Hike

Started by two high schoolers, this website has external links of virtual hikes you can take across the U.S. with its partners: HikingGuy, Treadmill TV, and Nature Calls. Search hikes via the interactive map feature. (Don’t miss out on the Hawaii trails.)

Virtual Hikes for Treadmills

Transport yourself to Alberta, Oregon, or even a giant Redwood grove forest with Tall Sky Walker’s virtual hikes playlist on YouTube. Whether you want a 15-minute or hour-long hike, jog, or walk, you’ll find a relaxing virtual hike for you.

Pro Tip: Use the settings tool on YouTube to speed up or slow down the playback speed to go at your own pace.

Trek the Appalachian Trail with Walk the Distance

Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park

This activity tracker app uses the steps recorded in your phone’s Health app and puts them towards walking a selected route. Virtually hike the Appalachian Trail, national parks, or cities; or run a virtual marathon. Currently, the app is free during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World’s Oceans


Missing out on your beach vacation? Explore the world’s magical oceans with underwater Street View imagery through Google. See sea lions in the Galapagos, coral reefs in Bermuda, and shipwrecks in the Florida Keys.

Take your learning a bit further and take a journey to the polar regions with a National Geographic-led online course.

Share Your Virtual Vacation or Travel Inspiration with Us:

Are you itching to travel? So are we … that’s why we started the #GoLater campaign on social media. We want to see which destinations YOU are dreaming of. Head over to our Instagram channel (@smartertravel) to learn more. 

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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