Not much is open during a quarantine. Right now, San Francisco is under a shelter-in-place mandate. Businesses are closed, entertainment venues shut, and schools dismissed for the year. We’re all at home, waiting out the COVID-19 storm and hoping that the sun will shine through on a pandemic-free city soon.
Thankfully, our community has pulled together with rare determination; according to a recent poll conducted by US Berkeley, Bay Area residents support shelter-in-place mandates at a higher rate than any other region in California. Our efforts are already paying off! Reported cases have reached a plateau, and some lawmakers are already planning for a slow reopen.
But let’s be real; while we understand the need for social distancing, the last few weeks have been a bit boring. We can’t go out to a show, check out a museum, or wander through our favorite entertainment venues — at least, not in person.
Virtual visits, however, are an entirely different story.
In recent weeks, the Bay Area’s art, culture, and entertainment centers have created a host of online offerings to tide residents over until the day when the city eventually reopens. Have you checked out the below options yet? If not — what the heck are you waiting for?
Monterey Bay Aquarium
You may not be able to feel the water splash firsthand, but the Aquarium is still lively! As of this writing, the Monterey Bay Aquarium will remain closed until the end of May. However, it will be offering a plethora of learning-at-home opportunities for teachers and students alike.
“We hope these resources will help you encourage a sense of wonder and connection to the natural world, even in this time of turmoil,” the Aquarium’s administrators wrote on its website. Free online courses are available for K-5, middle, and high school classes — all you need to do is enroll! The Aquarium’s website also hosts several free and printable games and activities.
Miss seeing the animals firsthand? Check out the Aquarium’s webcam gallery! With a few clicks, you can watch live streams of jellyfish, penguins, sharks, and even the Aquarium’s rescued sea otter pups!
Winchester Mystery House
You’ve never experienced a quirky mansion like this one. Built over 36 years by an eccentric millionaire widow, the Winchester House reportedly encompasses over 200 rooms, 10,000 windows, spy holes, trap doors, and a surprising slew of other strange features.
While this popular tourist attraction is closed to visitors, curious folk can now watch a guided video tour of the mansion that provides a unique look into the house and its creative architect. Want to check it out? Visit the Winchester Mystery House’s website.
Asian Art Museum
Put a note in your calendar for after COVID-19 is gone for good — if you live at 1751 Market Street, you’re just a short walk away from their cultural wonder!
While the Asian Art Museum is currently closed for foot traffic, it welcomes digital explorers. As the Museum’s administrators wrote on their website, “Lean into #MuseumFromHome and engage with art at a distance [and] bring the Asian Art Museum into your home. We hope these resources will keep your spirits up and the inspiration flowing.”
What, then, is available? As it turns out, quite a bit — the Museum has a variety of meditative art videos, a virtual tour of its exhibitions, and a playlist of videos that explore the linkages between culture, food, and art. You can even download an Asian Art Museum-original Zoom background for your next Zoom meeting!
San Francisco Ballet
Have you ever wanted to poke your head into a professional dancer’s morning classes? Well, now you can. Since performances are on indefinite hold, the San Francisco Ballet has begun streaming their classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 AM PDT. Check it out!
If you want to know more about the performers behind the art, you can also tune into the San Francisco Ballet’s “Meet the Artist” series, which profiles a few of the company’s most notable dancers.
Sheltering in place doesn’t mean consigning yourself to boredom. Enjoy all that San Francisco has to offer — even if it’s from your couch!