The statement leveled by parents on the family road trip is typically an empty threat meant to get those dang kids in the backseat to sit still and behave. COVID-19, however, actually turned the car around.
The collective groan of children everywhere reflects the canceled plans, postponed outings and delayed adventures to the wealth of attractions and offerings that are found throughout Greater Lansing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But if you can’t get outdoors to explore, bring the outdoors into your home.
That alternative is now available thanks to the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new Virtual Vacation program. The GLCVB’s website offers links to a growing number of virtual tours, activities, classes, videos, Facebook Live events and more across the region.
“March 30 was National Virtual Vacation Day — as we were in the middle of Michigan’s ‘Stay home. Stay safe’ order. So we thought it was the perfect opportunity to encourage people to virtually explore all of the offerings Greater Lansing provides,” said Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing communications for the GLCVB. “Our hope is that once people are able to travel safely again, they have a list of fun places ready to explore.”
Because the GLCVB is a membership organization, staff members already had countless sources to reach out to for help. Padot also compiled events from Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to bring everything under one roof.
“We already had a list of facilities offering virtual tours, so it was a matter of curating the content into one easy-to find location,” she said.
From Lansing Symphony Orchestra concerts and video streams of animals from Potter Park Zoo to activities and investigations at Impression 5 Science Center as well as virtual tours of dozens of businesses and attractions, Virtual Vacation provides some much-needed distraction and opportunities for exploration. One visit to the page won’t be enough because Padot said the project will continually evolve as more features are added.
“Response has been great,” Padot said. “We’ve had interest from across Michigan. … Parents are looking for educational and entertaining things to do with the kids. A lot of what is on the Virtual Vacation page could supplement the distance learning kids are experiencing right now.”
Although residents are eager for the stay-at-home order to be lifted and to get out and explore again, the GLCVB hopes the Virtual Vacation page will help whet the public’s appetite and help them compile a list of things to do once they are able to travel again.
“Our members — attractions, facilities, etc. — appreciate the opportunity to offer ways for the public to engage with their business and brand while they are closed,” Padot said. “The attractions and events have gotten very creative. For example, the East Lansing Art Festival is having a virtual event this year to generate web traffic for the artists that would typically have their art on display. It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention.”
Even though Virtual Vacation Day was a month ago, now is still a good time to virtually travel.