If you’re a housebound traveler looking for somewhere new to explore from the comfort of your sofa, you are in luck.
Visit Florida, the state's official tourism marketing corporation, offers a number of ways to virtually experience the Sunshine State. Under the governor’s and county’s stay-at-home orders, area residents are unable to visit many area businesses, entertainment venues and recreation facilities. To help spread some of that precious Florida sunshine, Visit Florida has put together some virtual experiences that can be accessed by a click of the mouse and a few taps on the keyboard. Among the offerings are a curated playlist featuring videos revealing favorite outdoor Florida experiences and a calendar of virtual events taking place through May.
Virtual Video Playlist
Armchair travelers can sit back and enjoy more than five hours’ worth of video footage on Visit Florida’s YouTube channel. Watch the sunset on the beach whilst sitting around a crackling wood fire, swim with manatees, take a horseback ride along the beach and kayak your way through Rainbow Springs State Park.
The playlist includes the following videos:
- Cayo Costa Beach
- Sunrise over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from Fort De Soto Park
- Horseback Riding at Hutchinson Island
- Kayaking at Rainbow Springs State Park
- St. Augustine Beach
- The Canyons Zip Line in Ocala
- The Beach at St. Joseph Peninsula Island State Park
- Swimming with Manatees at Three Sisters Springs
- The Beach at St. Andrews State Park
- Campfire on a Florida Beach
- Sunrise at South Beach Park in Fort Pierce
To access the video playlist, visit www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBDWU8gsNXlK14RKfO_rnJN-SmSn1MzDV.
Virtual Florida Events
Whatever your passion, Visit Florida’s virtual calendar has something for everyone to enjoy from their home screens throughout the month of May.
Following are some of the calendar’s highlights:
• Visit the Dali Museum: Art lovers from all over the world have long enjoyed St. Petersburg’s fascinating Dali Museum, which has an astounding collection of over 2,400 Salvador Dalí works. Now, anyone can view these works through a free 360-degree tour of the museum, as well as some special online-only exhibits.
• Go Behind the Scenes at Busch Gardens: While Tampa’s famous, safari-centric theme park is closed to visitors, see and interact love with animals, rides and other favorite exhibits and areas from a new vantage point. Busch Gardens has been taking its Facebook fans along to an elephant birthday party, snack time for sloths, a flaming flock walk, a ride on Cheetah hunt and more.
• Shine Mural Festival: In recent years, St. Petersburg’s colorful urban murals have become internationally revered, in part thanks to the SHINE Mural Festival, which takes visitors on several stops via foot or bike. Now, you can enjoy the 90-plus murals from the comfort of your home, complete with vivid descriptions of the artwork, info on the artists and other fun facts.
• Florida Orchestra Concerts: As a special treat to classical music fans, each Thursday, the Florida Orchestra is now broadcasting live recordings. Experience Some of the most powerful moments from the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks series, which includes Ravel’s Bolero, Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Mason Bates’ Mothership.
• Frost Science at Home: The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami has a new digital platform learning series for children. It gives visitors the opportunity to explore free educational resources, videos, DIY science activities and behind-the-scenes content. It also offers a 360-degree exploration of a museum’s top exhibitions.
• Diving in the Florida Keys: No swimwear is required for this virtual diving tour of Dry Tortugas National Park. Dive a shipwreck, swim through the third-largest coral reef in the world and tour a Civil War-era fort. One of the most awe-inspiring sights at the park is the historic Fort Jefferson and its natural beauty that just might inspire a trip there in the future.
• Take a look around The Biltmore Hotel: A favorite amongst celebrities since its opening in 1926, the Biltmore Hotel is Miami’s most elegant National Historic Landmark. Featuring a sizable library of 360-degree panoramic views, the Biltmore’s virtual tour takes from the Main Lobby through to the Fontana Courtyard and the iconic pool.
• Learn about the history of Florida: Enjoy virtual tours and Florida stories with history dating back centuries. From Miami to the Panhandle, you can uncover the rich history of the Sunshine State with the Florida Stories app. It features story scripts written by history experts that are designed to increase your knowledge about local communities.
• Virtual Orlando Tours: Orlando is one of the world’s top playgrounds for theme parks, water parks, entertainment and attractions and the COVID-19 shutdown has left many craving the comfort and fun of their favorite spots. With this in mind, Visit Orlando now provides more than 100 virtual experiences including 360-degree tours, Facebook Live broadcasts, theme park thrills and more.
To access Visit Florida’s virtual calendar, visit www.visitflorida.com/en-us/florida-events/calendar.html.
Virtually Roam 825 miles of Florida’s Beaches
If you’re missing the beach, Visit Florida’s Florida Beach Finder allows you to virtually explore Florida’s much-loved beaches from the comfort of your home.
In a landmark partnership with Google in 2014, Visit Florida completed a four-month odyssey to capture stunning images along the Sunshine State’s 825 miles of beaches using Google’s Street View Trekker technology. These 360-degree images, captured one footstep at a time, are integrated into Google Maps, enabling potential visitors from around the globe to experience interactive views of Florida’s world-renowned beaches.
Users simply “tune” their preferences, choosing from adventurous or laid back, family friendly or romantic, action-packed or secluded and manicured or au naturel. The Florida Beach Finder immediately delivers visual choices that best match desires. With every tweak of the tuner, the options change before your eyes. Once users have picked their favorite beach, they can opt for Street View, which drops them into each location, allowing them to take a look around and to explore.
To access the Florida Beach Finder, visit www.visitflorida.com/en-us/florida-beaches/beach-finder.
Visit Florida promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, Visit Florida serves more than 13,000 tourism industry businesses, including major strategic alliance partnerships with Busch Gardens Tampa, Disney Destinations, the Hertz Corporation, Hilton, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando, Simon Shopping Destinations and Universal Orlando Resort.
To learn more about Visit Florida, go to www.visitflorida.com.