The continued spread of the novel strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, has led cities and countries globally to ask — or enforce — their citizens to practice social distancing.
To help you get used to this new normal and find new ways to occupy your time, we put together a list of ideas for you to stay entertained without spending a dime.
Here’s a quick list of options that are available right now.
1. Delight In Animals (From a Distance)
Get ready to be entertained by a new series from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The AZA has created a calendar of free events like zookeeper talks, story time with animals, and zoo tours — all of which can be enjoyed online.
Where: Check out the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ calendar for upcoming virtual events.
2. Start Meditating
Popular meditation app, Headspace, is extending its premium service to healthcare professionals and K-12 teachers and administrators for free. Anyone else can take their curated program for the pandemic, ‘Weathering the Storm,’ free of charge, too.
Where: Get started on their website.
3. Enjoy the Opera
While New York City’s world-renowned Metropolitan Opera had to cancel shows for the foreseeable future, it’s still offering the magic of live performances to fans by streaming the captivating experience online. Now, you can watch some of the world’s most talented performers, like Elīna Garanča, do what they do best.
When: Nightly, at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Visit metopera.org to tune in. Every performance will be live for 23 hours afterward.
4. Start a Podcast
If you’ve been contemplating starting your own podcast for a while, now’s your chance to start. Zencastr has lifted the limits on its basic and free ‘Hobbyist’ podcasting plan through July 1. This means you can interview as many guests and record as many hours as you’d like.
When: Now through July 1
Where: Check out Zencastr’s website for more information.
5. Work Up a Sweat
Many fitness brands have found workarounds to help folks remain active, all without charging them a penny. Here are some options to get you started:
When: Free for 90 days after sign-up
Where: Peloton’s app. If you have a treadmill or bike at home, you can access its library of workouts. Or, if you’re a yogi, you can enjoy yoga and meditation classes, too.
When: Free for 30 days after sign-up
Where: On NEOU’s website. This on-demand and live, at-home exercise streaming service is similar to Daily Burn, but features some familiar brands in the fitness industry, including Kick It! By Eliza and the Vixen Workout.
6. Host a Netflix Party
There’s never been a better time to watch that documentary or TV show — and now you can ask a friend to join you virtually. Stream with your friends and family via Netflix’s web-based Google Chrome extension. Anyone who is part of your Netflix Party can pause or rewind the show, and you can discuss your thoughts in the live chat sidebar.
Where: While every party person needs to have a Netflix account to join in on the fun, the company is currently offering a 30-day free trial for new users. Get more information here.
7. Get the Concert Experience
Though many large-scale events and concerts have been canceled or rescheduled, many artists are performing their hit music free of charge. The World Health Organization and Global Citizen have teamed up to offer the concert series, ‘Together, At Home.’ So far, John Legend, Charlie Puth, and Chris Martin are among the performers.
8. Take a Virtual Museum Tour
COVID-19 has significantly restricted travel between countries, and many museums are attempting to boost morale by offering free virtual tours of some of the world’s most iconic destinations.
Where: Palace of Versailles in France, the Tokyo National Museum in Japan, the Smithsonian Institution, to name a few. Check out the official website for any museum you’re curious about, as they may offer a digital tour, too.
9. Get Schooled By a Michelin-Starred Chef
Though you may not be able to dine in a restaurant for quite some time, you can invite one of the world’s most famous culinary geniuses into your kitchen. In response to COVID-19, Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura has launched an Instagram series called ‘Kitchen Quarantine,’ where he takes viewers through various dishes step-by-step.
When: Now. Bottura posts most days and all episodes remain on his Instagram page for viewing at a later date.
Where: Follow along on his Instagram page.
10. Travel Virtually With Google
Thanks to Google’s massive library of images and videos, their Arts and Culture landing page is full of various virtual tours, performances, and ways to travel without leaving your home. These are all free, of course, and perhaps can inspire your next trip when it’s safe to take to the friendly skies once again.
Where: Visit Google’s Art & Culture homepage now.
11. Take a Class With Your Kids
Toy boutique Rose & Rex has created a resource index full of ideas to entertain children – from live streams and ideas for play-based outdoor learning and more.
When: Now. Check back daily for updates!
Where: Check out Rose & Rex’s mega-list of ideas here.
12. Start a Gratitude Journal
Taking a moment every day to write down your blessings can boost your spirits. Makeup company Alleyoop has made this easy by offering a free download of their gratitude journal, which is normally priced at $24. Print out the pages and schedule time each day to process your emotions and put them down on paper.
Where: Get your free download of Alleyoop’s gratitude journal online.
13. Send Cards or Plan a Virtual Party
Your housewarming get together and birthday party may have to wait, but there are still ways to connect with your loved ones virtually now. To help, Evite has made all their premium cards free. Send an invitation to a virtual hangout with your best friends or write a sweet card to someone who needs a pick-me-up.
Where: Visit Evite.com for details.
14. Learn To Play an Instrument
If you’ve got a guitar, bass, or ukulele lying around, now’s your chance to get free lessons on how to put it to use. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, music brand Fender is offering a free three-month subscription to their education learning app, Fender Play. By signing up, you’ll get access to instructor-led videos.
When: Now, for three months after sign-up to the first 1,000,000 who sign up for Fender Play.
Where: Visit their website for more information.
15. Upgrade Your Mixology Skills
When you stocked your pantry with essential goods, was booze on your shopping list? If so, you can become an even better mixologist by learning from the pros. A Bar Above is offering classes on a free Facebook group, Craft Cocktail Club. Some lessons are video, while others are audio, but you can learn everything from infusing alcohol to making low-carb creations and more.
Where: Join A Bar Above’s free Facebook group to access the library.
16. Read or Listen To a Book
If you’re an avid reader, the power of a great story can take you out of a bad funk, raise your spirits — or, at the very least, provide a distraction. Consider using all your extra time at home to listen to some of the world’s best authors read their masterpieces on Scribd. They’re offering a free 30-day subscription that gives you access to millions of audiobooks, e-books, and magazines.
Where: Crack open a new read on Scribd’s website.
The Bottom Line
From live performances from some of the world’s leading artists to workout classes, audiobooks, and more, you have options for keeping boredom at bay.
Got a suggestion for a fun (and free!) way to practice social distancing? Share in the comments!