It's finally summer, and while coronavirus lockdowns are lifting in many states, many of your usual means of entertainment are probably still off the menu. At some point, even the most introverted of us are going to go stir crazy now that it's so nice outside -- especially if you've got kids cooped up inside.
The good news is, the internet is responding with more options for social gatherings than ever before, including free online concerts (more below) and ways to create your own sense of community even if you're living alone. We've rustled up some of our favorite ways to stay entertained if you're self-quarantined or practicing social distancing in the warmer weeks to come.
Read more: Free entertainment to help you survive coronavirus social distancing
Uplifting scenes of coronavirus solidarity around the worldSee all photos
Stream a concert, opera or TV show
Since the US government has encouraged social distancing to slow the spread of the illness back in March, performers have been trying to find a way to share their art. Artists such as Pink, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Keith Urban, Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, Rob Thomas and John Legend have streamed live concerts on Instagram and YouTube -- many of which are still available to watch.
The Grammy Museum put some of its recorded Q&A performances online from artists like Billie Eilish, Brandi Carlile and Greta Van Fleet. The initial rollout included nine artists. All of the sessions were filmed in the 200-seat Clive Davis Theater inside the museum, located in the LA Live complex, according to a report from Variety. Plus the Metropolitan Opera has streams of performances every night on its website.
Read more: Best universal remote for 2020
Go fishing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out on Nintendo Switch on March 20. Players all over the world have since immersed themselves in all aspects of peaceful island life -- Tom Nook included. The game's social aspect has made social distancing a bit easier. Players have even taken the game to another level and begun decorating their homes to look like a tropical island getaway. Simple in-game actions like growing fruit, planting flowers, exploring, designing rooms and spending time with friends can be comforting.
Plus, an update to Animal Crossing: New Horizons is coming on Friday, adding the ability to swim, dive and collect sea creatures.
Read more: 17 best Animal Crossing: New Horizon tips for Nintendo Switch
Take a digital museum tour
Thanks to technology, spending the day at a museum is still an option, even if you can't leave the house. Travel and Leisure has a list of 12 museums that offer virtual tours. You can check out famous locations in the US or abroad in Seoul, Berlin, Florence and more.
You can also get your art fix with the Google Arts and Culture app for iPhone and Android. The app lets you view paintings in AR, read up on masterpieces and find your famous painting doppelganger. Don't forget to see what you can find in Google Maps if you're in the mood to explore.
The Georgia Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium have turned on webcams so you can still watch otters, fish and penguins without the crowds.
Host a Netflix viewing party
If you and your friends or family have a Netflix subscription, you can schedule a time to watch a movie or show synced together. A free Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party syncs video playback so you can play and pause at the same time. It also has a group chat feature so you can keep the conversation going while you watch. Everyone in the party has to have a Netflix account though, so it's not entirely free.
Read more: Wine, beer, alcohol delivery: How to get alcoholic beverages delivered to your door
Do some summer cleaning
Some of us reserve cleaning for weekends, but if you're stuck at home this summer, you've likely got some extra time on your hands. CNET has a list of tips if you want to sanitize your house, your phone, your car and even the dryer vent and the kitchen sink. Plus, learn how to clean smarter, not harder, how Alexa can help you clean and all the places you shouldn't forget to clean. While you're cleaning, don't forget to tidy your tech, too.
Binge watch a new show
When you've got downtime on a regular day, turning to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu is a clear option. There's always a show to binge -- new or old -- regardless of the service you're subscribed to.
You might also check out a platform you're not subscribed to, like live TV streaming service Sling TV or YouTube TV. And don't forget about HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus. If you need help choosing, CNET has compared all of your options.
Read more: Netflix subscribers soar like crazy as coronavirus traps us at home
Read something new
If you're like me, you have more than enough books on your shelves -- and tablet -- to keep you busy for a while. But you can also buy or borrow books, magazines and newspapers fast on Nook, Kindle and the Apple News app for iOS. But be warned: Even though digital books are often discounted, the cost can still add up if you're a reading fiend.
Read more: How to get free digital magazines from your library
There are also ways to download free eBooks to your tablet, computer or phone. Websites such as Authorama and Project Gutenberg have hundreds of public domain works including Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland available for download. Check out these 10 different ways to download free books.
Get your game on
Playing video games is another option to pass the time if you're stuck at home. On top of the games you might already own or have downloaded from the PlayStation or Microsoft Store for Xbox, there are other ways to play.
Read more: Best free games right now for Xbox, Stadia, PlayStation, PCs and Nintendo Switch
If you're looking for a new gaming experience, game streaming services Google Stadia and Apple Arcade are worth trying out for their exclusive content. Google also offers a Play Pass for a more affordable gaming experience (in comparison to Stadia). If you're a PC gamer, check out a plethora of game options on Steam.
In addition, NASA launched a game for Mac and iOS called NeMO-Net in which players can virtually travel the ocean floor in a vessel called the Nautilus, identifying and classifying whatever coral you come across. The cool part is that when you play the game, you're actually helping NASA with their data and research. The game helps to train the Pleiades supercomputer at Ames to recognize corals from any image of the ocean floor.
Apple Arcade: 50 of our favorite games so farSee all photos
Take up exercise
Relaxing on the couch can be fun, but you might get restless after a while. There are dozens of virtual fitness programs to choose from that you can do at home, but it's ultimately about finding the one that you like and that fits your lifestyle. Some fitness apps are free, like FitOn, and are packed with features that other apps would charge for. Other apps, such as Pocket Yoga, have free features but require subscriptions for the full experience. You can also workout with your Google Home or on YouTube.
Read more: Exercise with these household objects for a full-body workout during quarantine
Working out at home definitely doesn't require an expensive home gym. Depending on the workout you want to undertake, you only need to clear out a small amount of space. For example, resistance training, some barre exercises, pilates and yoga only require a few square feet and typically don't require any equipment. In addition, some Instagram fitness trainers, like Jaclyn Ho, have started streaming live classes on IGTV and you might be able to convince your super fit friend to share their workout on Facebook Live.
Pinterest can keep you entertained for ages with its aesthetically pleasing pictures and ways to be creative. While some might require stuff you don't have on hand, you might find supplies after you organize that overflowing closet. You can find a project for anyone -- whether you want to get creative, organize your kitchen or keep your kids busy.
Here are a few to get you started:
- 27 zero-waste DIY ideas that will make you say, 'my god, it's brilliant'
- 15 fun crafts for teens that will bring out their inner artist
- DIY suncatchers
- Rainbow popsicle stick birdhouses
- How to upcycle glass jars
Work on your garden, indoors or outdoors
Summer is prime gardening season. Whether or not you have an outdoor space for growing things, you can still grow herbs, fruits and vegetables (or at least make a valiant effort not to kill them). Here are a few gardening tips from CNET if you're ready to flex your green thumb.
- Grow plants without dirt in this Alexa-shaped, hydroponic planter
- 6 gardening tips you'll wish you'd known all along
- Best apps for gardening and yard work for spring 2020
- How to grow vegetables without a backyard
- How to grow a mini herb garden (and save money)
Having kids help with indoor plants is also a fun way to help them stay busy that isn't screen time.
Read more: The best indoor plants to bring the outside in
Go down an internet rabbit hole
Sometimes a good Google or Wikipedia search is enough to keep you busy for a bit. What have you always wanted to know more about? Pick a YouTube video and click the suggestions after that. If you need inspiration for learning more about a variety of quirky topics, check out:
- Stuff You Should Know podcast
- TedTalks YouTube page
- Atlas Obscura
- All That's Interesting
- Boredom Therapy
- Snopes (just make sure to fact check)
More fun things to do
- Search for adult coloring books and puzzles you can print online
- Check Pinterest for a baking project for you or your kids
- Dig out your pack of cards and teach yourself a new game
- Play online games with family and friends over video chat
For even more ideas, check out the 15 most interesting places to explore in Google Maps, 10 cookbooks to get you through quarantine, and how to stay sane and productive when working from home.