100+ free things to do while sheltering in place

Confetti on blue background with caption The best things in life are free

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[updated 11/25/2020]

Quarantine, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo is upon us. As the latest wave of COVID-19 ravages the world, self-quarantine, shelter in place, and physical distancing are all very important things we can do to keep ourselves and our fellow humans safe. 😷 It’s a very stressful and unusual time, and many of us could really use a distraction, a chance to learn something new, or even playtime—for kids and adults alike. 🎉

Our very awesome social media and marketing team scoured the interwebs for 100% FREE things to do while you’re being a responsible citizen and excellent member of your community by staying home. 🏠

connect with new people

eggs and other ingredients on counter

  1. Join publisher A Public Space’s virtual summer book club: https://apublicspace.org/events/detail/apstogether with daily content on https://www.instagram.com/apublicspace/?hl=en
  2. Take a daily baking lesson from Milk Bar pastry chef Christina Tosi: https://www.instagram.com/christinatosi/channel/
  3. See former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck’s latest book club pick: https://andrewluckbookclub.com/ (also https://twitter.com/albookclub, https://www.facebook.com/AndrewLuckBookClub/ and https://www.instagram.com/albookclub/ with hashtag #ALBookClub)
  4. Jump in to a book club for romance novels: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/not-your-moms-romance-book-cluband https://www.instagram.com/notyourmomsrom
  5. Professional mixologists offer daily mixology classes and socializing via Zoom: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUlc-mvqzsvQvTKc9TPQEa-MEbCgixAdw

connect with your community

TV with Netflix displayed and person holding remote

  1. Join your local Buy Nothing group on FB, and give and receive FREE items from your immediate neighbors: https://www.facebook.com/BuyNothingProject
  2. Watch a show with your (distanced) friends on Netflix Party: https://www.netflixparty.com
  3. Play Words with Friends: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/words-with-friends-classic/id321916506 and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zynga.words&hl=en_US
  4. Draw together (or brainstorm creatively) in real-time in your web browser: https://aggie.io
  5. Meet up on an illumy video chat for drinks. Alcohol delivery is available in many parts of the country: just Google “cocktail delivery [your town name].”
  6. Several national news outlets got rid of paywalls for COVID-19-related news (some even eliminated paywalls altogether):

connect with your household

hands knitting purple yarn

do things together

  1. Build a DIY projector using your smartphone (and $4 in materials): https://thistlewoodfarms.com/how-to-make-your-phone-into-a-projector/
  2. Become an expert in music theory: https://www.musictheory.net/lessons
  3. Help your child learn the basics of guitar: http://www.kidsguitarzone.com/
  4. Launch your own kids’ virtual book club: https://redtri.com/how-to-start-a-kids-virtual-book-club/
  5. Learn how to make dozens of origami animals: https://web-japan.org/kidsweb/virtual/origami2/exploring01_04.html
  6. Browse conversations, performances and how-tos on Creative Live’s 24/7 stream: https://www.creativelive.com/tv
  7. Game, totally free, with titles from the ever-growing Steam library: https://store.steampowered.com/genre/Free%20to%20Play/
  8. Download environmental lesson plans and resources from Salisbury University’s Ward Museum: https://www.wardmuseum.org/learn-explore/education/virtual-learning/kids-activities-and-lesson-plans/
  9. Learn to solve the Rubik’s cube: http://www.cubingmke.com and https://www.rubiks.com/en-us/solve-it
  10. Make up a board game: https://blog.ed.ted.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Pen-Pen-Chen-TED-Ed-Innovation-Project-Game-Changing-Kids-additional-material.pdf
  11. Get educational lessons tailored by age: https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk
  12. Ravelry is a free resource for knitters, at any skill level: https://www.ravelry.com/
  13. “Play” 128 different instruments with an online synthesizer: https://midi.city/
  14. Great coding resources for kids: https://mommypoppins.com/coding-kids-free-websites-teach-learn-programming
  15. Watch Bill Nye, the Science Guy: https://www.billnye.com/home-demos
  16. Bake bread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWOJovFzWfw
  17. Draw in chalk on the sidewalk: https://lifeasmama.com/10-sidewalk-chalk-ideas-thatll-keep-kids-enterained-for-hours

watch together

  1. Watch acclaimed films and TV on Sundance Now—get 30 days free when you use the promo code SUNDANCENOW30: https://www.sundancenow.com
  2. The Met Opera is streaming nightly: https://www.metopera.org
  3. Get in the Broadway spirit with streamed shows: https://www.playbill.com/article/15-broadway-plays-and-musicals-you-can-watch-on-stage-from-home and  https://playbill.com/article/26-more-on-stage-plays-and-musicals-to-watch-from-your-couch
  4. Lots of artists are holding livestreams and virtual concerts: https://www.vividseats.com/streams/
  5. Stream movies on YouTube for free (with ads): https://www.youtube.com/feed/storefront?bp=kgEmCGQSIlBMSFBUeFR4dEMwaWJWWnJUMl9XS1dVbDJTQXhzS3VLd3iiBQIoBQ%3D%3D
  6. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is streaming past performances: https://livefromorchestrahall.vhx.tv/browse
  7. Watch The Met’s YouTube videos: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/met-360-project

explore together

  1. Tour the UK’s lavish Blenheim Palace: https://www.blenheimpalace.com/stayconnected/
  2. Visit Holyrood House—the Queen’s home in Scotland: https://www.royal.uk/virtual-tours-palace-holyroodhouse
  3. Browse the Smithsonian’s vast array of resources for kids: https://www.si.edu/kids
  4. Watch productions from the UK’s National Theatre: https://www.youtube.com/user/ntdiscovertheatre
  5. Museum of Fine Arts Houston Virtual Experience: https://www.mfah.org/visit/mfah-virtual-experience/
  6. Take a virtual tour of the Chateau de Versailles: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/resources/virtual-exhibitions
  7. Virtually visit a National Park with the National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/find-your-virtual-park.htm
  8. Embark on a “Home Safari” with videos and activities from the Cincinnati Zoo: http://cincinnatizoo.org/home-safari-resources/
  9. Watch roller coaster rides like you’re in them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMMiZFPYg6M and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN8nv4tVFuA
  10. Visit the Boston Children’s Museum without even leaving your living room. https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour
  11. Explore the surface of Mars with this digital 360° camera: https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/
  12. Check out the British Museum’s collection of treasures from your couch: https://britishmuseum.withgoogle.com/
  13. Tour the Guggenheim’s famous spiral staircase via Google Street View: googlestreetview/guggenheim
  14. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. features two online exhibits through Google: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/national-gallery-of-art-washington-dc?hl=en
  15. You can virtually walk through the Musée d’Orsay in Paris: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/musee-dorsay-paris?hl=en
  16. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/national-museum-of-modern-and-contemporary-art-korea?hl=en
  17. Pergamon Museum in Berlin: googlestreetview/pergamon
  18. Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/van-gogh-museum?hl=en
  19. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-j-paul-getty-museum?hl=en
  20. Uffizi Gallery in Florence: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/uffizi-gallery?hl=en
  21. Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/masp?hl=en
  22. Browse Google’s weekly recommendations of immersive cultural experiences: https://artsandculture.google.com/recommended?hl=en
  23. Take a virtual farm tour: https://www.farmfood360.ca
  24. Watch the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sea otters: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/sea-otter-cam
  25. Tune in to an African wildlife cam: https://explore.org/livecams/african-wildlife/african-watering-hole-animal-camera
  26. Virtually tour the Great Wall of China: https://www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china
  27. Experience the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s virtual glider: https://ssec.si.edu/glider-guide
  28. Explore Badlands National Park in South Dakota on Google Earth: googleearth/badlands
  29. Check in with the National Zoo’s cheetah cubs: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/cheetah-cub-cam
  30. Look around Everglades National Park: googleearth/everglades
  31. Take a virtual tour of the Cliffs of Moher: https://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/virtual-visit-tour/
  32. Roam Disney World: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2018/03/disney-parks-launches-first-ever-360-degree-panoramas-on-google-street-view/
  33. Check out the Taj Mahal on Google: googleartsculture/tajmahal
  34. Take a virtual stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a UNESCO World Heritage site: https://www.kew.org/about-us/virtual-kew-wakehurst
  35. Explore the courtyard at the Dalí Museum: https://thedali.org/virtual-tour and check out more than 2,400 works by the artist: https://thedali.org/about-the-museum/history

Create your own scavenger hunt with the GooseChase app: https://www.goosechase.com/how-it-works/organizing/

connect with yourself

hand weights and an exercise band on wood floor


  1. Power through a new workout each day with OrangeTheory: https://www.orangetheory.com/en-us/athome/
  2. Take an Instagram workout with a SoulCycle instructor (dozens of instructors to choose from): https://www.soul-cycle.com/news/offthebike
  3. Try the Peloton app free for 30 days: https://www.onepeloton.com/app
  4. Expand your yoga practice with weekly online classes from CorePower Yoga: https://www.corepoweryogaondemand.com/keep-up-your-practice
  5. Echelon is offering a free 90-day trial of the FitPass app: https://echelonfit.com/pages/echelon-90-day-promo
  6. Popular YouTuber Yoga with Adriene: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
  7. Get expert coaching on running techniques with the Nike Run Club app: https://www.nike.com/nrc-app


  1. Watch inspirational and motivational TED Talks: https://www.ted.com
  2. Find your next read at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/
  3. Learn calligraphy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBoVGqiSzr4
  4. Listen to hundreds of public-domain audiobooks: https://librivox.org
  5. Browse the New York Public Library’s 300,000+ books and audiobooks: https://www.nypl.org/books-music-movies/ebookcentral
  6. Audible is offering a big selection of streaming audiobooks: https://stories.audible.com/discovery
  7. Learn a new language with DuoLingo: https://www.duolingo.com
  8. Take Yale’s course on the science of well-being: https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being
  9. Peruse the NASA media library: https://images.nasa.gov
  10. Take Ivy League courses online: https://www.classcentral.com/collection/ivy-league-moocs
  11. Get digital magazines from your local library with the RBDigital app: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-check-out-free-digital-magazines-from-your-library/ or the Libby app: https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/

just take a break

  1. Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehab Cam: https://www.cmaquarium.org/webcams/sea-turtle-rehab-cam/
  2. Tubi TV shows (free with ads): https://tubitv.com/home
  3. IMDB free TV shows and movies: https://www.imdb.com/tv/
  4. Calendar of free livestreams and virtual concerts: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/9335531/coronavirus-quarantine-music-events-online-streams
  5. Free kids’ shows on Amazon (no Prime membership needed): https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/storefront/ref=atv_hm_hom_1_c_ZWyNDQ_fMHI51_1_1?contentId=freeforall&merchId=freeforall
  6. Thousands of children’s ebooks on Internet Archive: https://archive.org/search.php?sort=-loans__status__last_loan_date&query=openlibrary_work%3A%28%2A%29+AND+collection%3A%28inlibrary%29+AND+loans__status__status%3AAVAILABLE+AND+subject%3A%28Juvenile+Fiction%29
  7. Listen to an astronaut read from space: https://storytimefromspace.com/
  8. Stream virtual concerts: https://www.sofa-king-fest.com/
  9. Live stream a beach cam: https://www.earthcam.com/usa/southcarolina/myrtlebeach/resort/?cam=seacrest and https://www.livebeaches.com/state/california

If you know of any other amazing free experiences, services, etc., tweet us @illumyinc and let us know!

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