Family travels don’t require a trip to Washington, D.C., to get a taste of the treasures in Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. You and your children can explore the vast exhibit halls with the help of a virtual tour, stopping to zoom in on displays that pique kids’ imagination.
Older kids will have no trouble navigating the exhibits by following the blue arrows from gallery to gallery, but you’ll want to join younger kids on a virtual visit to the museum. A navigation map in the upper right corner of the screen helps you find specific exhibits. A small row of close-up images at the bottom helps bring up specific features. Additionally, zoom in for even closer views.
When visiting the Smithsonian in person, kids always head straight to the fossils and the magnificent Tyrannosaurus Rex. While not as impressive on screen as it is in person, this is still the star of the show. A recent reopening of the paleontology halls makes the exhibits even more realistic, showing these giant reptiles in action poses.
To see close-ups of the colorful murals that are the backdrops to the exhibits, click the No. 2 in the center of the opening screen. A menu on the left allows you to search for specific fossils or to read text panels such as “Mammals of Maximum Size” and “Birds are Dinosaurs.” Here, too, are links to a series of videos that supplement the gallery tours.
Kids also gravitate to the Gems and Minerals halls, and while the virtual tour isn’t quite as dazzling as seeing the famous Hope Diamond at arm’s length, the displays are still a hit.
Budding geologists can lose themselves in case after case of minerals and gems. They can zoom in to look at a giant meteorite or see a surreal sculpture created by sand grains molded together by water and wind. Be sure to watch the screen for the tiny blue buttons linking to even closer views. Marvel at the giant topaz, a case full of gold and a magnificent obelisk cut from the world’s largest aquamarine crystal. Kids can also get up close with the amethyst-filled interior of a geode.
Other exhibits explore African cultures and history, creatures of the sea, land animals, butterflies and insects. Be warned, though, once kids have been on a virtual tour, they will want to see the real thing in Washington, D.C.
Make your family trip to Orlando so much more than just visiting the theme parks. Thanks to new vacation bundles from luxury hotels in Orlando, available as of Sept. 1, you can enjoy exclusive boating experiences during your trip.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
American travelers have had it pretty easy for, well, always, when it comes to visiting Europe, but thanks to new rules, that is all about to change. Starting in 2024, U.S. travelers visiting Europe (along with travelers from more than 60 other previously visa-exempt countries), must comply with new regulations if they want to visit most European destinations.
If you’ve always wanted to hang out with an astronaut, here’s your chance: British astronaut Tim Peake will be in residence at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas Resort on Nov. 2 to present his “Journey Beyond Earth” talk. Peake’s presentation will take place on the resort’s Sky Observatory Deck, where he’ll share the day-to-day life of an astronaut from training to launch, including what it’s like to take a spacewalk and the sensation of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
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