Like many families, we’ve been trying to come up with creative indoor activities at home. Since traveling to faraway destinations won’t be happening in the near future, we decided to virtually travel from home to some of our family bucket list destinations. Whether you have to stay home or not, virtual travel is a great way to learn about a country. It can also prepare kids for traveling to a new destination.
While “visiting” each destination, we incorporated food, activities and movies to learn more about it. Food is always a focal point whenever we travel. As part of that, we enjoyed finding several traditional recipes from different countries to make at home. We also did several stay at home activities including crafts, scavenger hunts, and educational videos on YouTube. Each activity taught us more about the history, customs and main landmarks or attractions for visitors.
So, if you’re interested in getting family bucket list ideas and learning more about different countries, you came to the right spot! Keep reading for more details on the countries we explored. You can also use the table of contents to jump to the country you want to learn more about.
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Table of Contents: Virtual Bucket List Travel Destinations
This list is in the order that we’ve been exploring each destination at home. We personally used this opportunity to “travel” from home as a way to research and explore our family bucket list ideas. This list primarily includes family travel destinations outside of the US. (Many of which we are far off from visiting!) While we took the bucket list approach, traveling from home is also a fun way to revisit places you’ve visited in the past.
France is a country we’ve been talking about visiting for years and never quite seem to fit it in. It remains high on our travel bucket list, which is why we decided to “visit” France from home first. Paris is the capital of France and is known for the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, plus the Palace of Versailles and Disneyland outside of Paris. France also boasts a diverse landscape including the beautiful French Riviera and the French Alps.
Traditional French Recipes
- Easy crepe recipe that can be adjusted for sweet or savory crepes
- Gougeres Recipe (French Cheese Puffs)
- Beef Bourguignon Recipe (This is an Instant Pot Beef Bourguignon recipe but there are several options on Pinterest)
- Nicoise Salad
Other popular foods in France include croissants and french baguettes, ratatouille, chocolate soufflé and a variety of cheeses and wines.
France Learning Activities
- Color a flag of France using Crayola’s free printable map of France
- Make an Eiffel Tower using popsicle sticks (or whatever you have around the house). You can find ideas for an eiffel tower craft here.
- Take a virtual tour of the Musee d’Orsay.
- Watch these interesting facts about France video and learn French words on YouTube.
- Recreate the Tour de France with a bike race.
Kids Movies in France
Given that Africa is an entire continent, we chose a few countries to focus on while learning about Africa from home. In Africa, you can go on a safari in Tanzania or South Africa, see the pyramids in Egypt and visit the desert and markets of Morocco. There are so many great family friendly destinations in Africa that are often overlooked here in the US.
Traditional African Recipes
- Chai Tea & Mandazi Donuts Recipe from Eastern Africa. These coconut donuts are popular in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. While not authentic, we love this chai tea mix to make at home.
- West African Chicken Stew Recipe
Traditional African cuisine differs pretty significantly depending on the country. Ethiopian food is one of my favorites, and I look forward to visiting our Ethiopian restaurant again in the future!
Africa Activities for Kids at Home
- Color a map of Africa & learn about the geography
- Safari Animal Hunt (Tanzania/ South Africa)
- Hide animals around the yard (these can be plastic, stuffed animals, etc)
- Make a list of animals for the kids to find
- These kids binoculars are our favorite, or you can make your own binoculars using two toilet paper rolls.
- Make a Maasai necklace craft inspired by the beaded african necklaces from Kenya
- Learn about Egypt with an Egyptian pyramid craft. You can also learn to write your name in hieroglyphics.
- Learn about Morocco with this short video about Morocco for kids
Kids Movies Set in Africa
When it comes to traveling virtually, some of the best family movies take place in Africa. Below are some of our favorite movies set in Africa for kids.
China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and it’s packed with ancient history as a result. From the Great Wall of China to the Forbidden City and the Terracotta Army, there’s no shortage of historic sites while visiting China. China is also the most populated country in the world, and it includes some large cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, in addition to natural wonders. We loved learning more about China during our virtual travel from home to this Asian country.
Chinese Food Recipes
We chose a Chinese dessert and a meal to make while exploring traditional Chinese cuisine. Below are the Chinese food recipes we made. If you’re looking for more ideas for traditional Chinese food recipes, Kung Pao, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Dumplings are also popular foods in China.
- Chinese Egg Tarts, which are commonly found at Chinese dim sum houses. You can find an easy Chinese egg tart recipe here.
- Honey Garlic Shrimp Stir Fry Recipe for dinner.
Do you kids that are learning how to use chopsticks? You can make cheater chopsticks with rolled up paper and a rubber band.
Kids Activities to Learn About China
- Color a Map of China and learn where it is geographically.
- Read this interactive kids book about China from Tiny Travelers.
- Make this easy Chinese Paper Lantern craft for kids.
- Print this free coloring book about China for kids. Watch YouTube videos on the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the Terracotta Army as you go through it.
- Make a panda bear craft.
- Make a Chinese dragon using egg cartons to celebrate Chinese New Year.
- Play a game of soccer, since it was founded in China. Or play table tennis, the national sport of China.
Kids Movies Set in China
While we traveled to Italy pre-kids, we haven’t to the island of Sicily. Sicily is one of Italy’s 20 regions and it also happens to be the largest island in the Mediterranean. My husband has family in Sicily, making this Southern Italy destination high on our family travel bucket list. We decided to explore Sicily during Easter weekend and made a number of traditional Sicilian Easter recipes.
Authentic Sicilian Recipes
Some of the most common ingredients found in traditional Sicilian recipes include fish, olives and olive oil, citrus, rice, pasta, tomatoes and eggplant. While traditional Italian cuisine is common in Sicily, it also has more of a Mediterranean and Spanish flare given it’s locale. Below are some of the yummy recipes we made while traveling from home to Sicily.
- Fish is plentiful in Sicily, so we made this Sicilian Fish Stew recipe.
- Whole Orange Cake for a traditional Sicilian dessert.
- Lemon Granita & Coffee Granita Recipe (a Sicilian frozen dessert drink.) It’s commonly served in the summer for breakfast, along with a brioche roll.
- Easter Bread Baskets (We made a glaze without sambuca.)
- Roasted Lamb w/ Potatoes (This is a traditional Italian Easter lamb.)
*Cooking with Nonna is a great website for traditional Italian recipes.
Activities to Learn About Sicily
We had to get a little creative when learning about Sicily from home. (There are so many Italy activities for kids but little to none about the region of Sicily.) Below are some of the fun things you can do to learn more about Sicily with kids.
- Print out a coloring page map of Italy. Learn about where Sicily is on the map
- Learn about Mount Etna and make a volcano using playdoh.
- Lemons are the most common fruit grown in Sicily. Do a lemon tasting and make a picture using lemons. To create lemon stamps, cut lemons in half and dip them in yellow and/or orange paint.
- Visit the Sicilian beaches virtually with videos of Sicilian beaches on YouTube. Play with kinetic sand and enjoy a lemon granita while you watch!
- Learn (or brush up on) Italian using the DuoLingo app.
Family Movies in Sicily
There aren’t any kids movies specifically set in Sicily, but Disney’s Pinocchio takes place in Italy. If you want a Sicilian movie geared to adults, The Godfather is a classic movie set in Sicily.
Australia is both a country and it’s own continent, with diverse terrain from beautiful beaches to the hot, dry outback. Given the long flight from the US to Australia, it’s probably going to be a while if/ when we get to visit. Thankfully, if you’re in the same boat as us, you can have fun learning about Australia from home as an alternative!
Traditional Australian Foods
- Fairy Bread: This Australian food is a common party treat for kids. It’s made of white buttered bread topped with sprinkles. As a healthier alternative, you can also make avocado toast, which is also a common food in Australia.
- Aussie Meat Pie (We made this into one pie and served with mashed potatoes and peas- it was the perfect comfort food)
- Vegemite is a spread that originated in Australia and is very popular among locals. While we didn’t have any on hand when exploring Australia, you can buy Vegemite online here.
Other traditional Australian foods include Lamington cake, kangaroo meat, Damper and Chiko Roll. Tim Tam is also a popular Australian candy.
Learning Activities and Australia Crafts for Kids
- Listen to Didgeridoo music and make a Didgeridoo instrument.
- Learn about the Great Barrier Reef while watching Barney’s Barrier Reef and reading this coral reef book for kids book.
- Make an Australian aboriginal dot painting for kids of a kangaroo. We also did an Australian dot art activity with our Little Passports monthly subscription.
- Learn about Australian animals and make a koala or frill necked lizard craft.
- Make a boomerang with paper or cardboard.
Kids Movies in Australia
Australia is another favorite for great family movies. Below are a few kids movies that take place in Australia.
This Nordic country is located in Northern Europe, and it’s a family bucket list destination we’ve had our eye on for quite a while. Denmark consists of a peninsula with over 400 islands, and it’s mostly surrounded by water as a result. It’s known for being one of the happiest countries in the world, which can likely be attributed to the Danish practice of hygge.
Traditional Danish Food Recipes
- Ebelskivers are small, round Danish pancakes that are perfect for a traditional Danish breakfast or sweet treat. You can make this Ebelskiver recipe and fill them with jam, chocolate or whatever you desire. You need an ebelskiver pan to make them, but it’s well worth the investment.
- Frikadellar (Danish meatballs) for dinner. This Frikadeller recipe we made is served with egg noodles, but traditionally they’re made with baby potatoes and red cabbage.
- Danish style Strawberries and Cream Cake for dessert
Kids Activities to Learn About Denmark
- Identify where Denmark is on the map and print a coloring page of Denmark’s flag
- Make something fun with Legos (they were founded in Denmark!)
- Learn about the Vikings with this kids video about Vikings and make a viking craft for kids.
- Read some of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales, which originated in Denmark. You can find a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale book here.
- Make a Danish heart basket craft
Kids Movies Set in Denmark
While there aren’t a lot of kids movies set in Denmark, The Little Mermaid is definitely one you should watch. The original fairy tale that the movie is based on was written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson. There’s also a Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
Greece is a beautiful Mediterranean destination consisting of a peninsula and several islands. (Similar to Denmark in that aspect.) From the history of Ancient Greece and Greek mythology, to making traditional Greek food, it’s a great country to start exploring at home.
Traditional Greek Recipes
- Loukoumades (Greek honey puffs): We had to find a loukoumades recipe without yeast, but they’re better if you have yeast on hand!
- Gyros: We made a quick and easy dinner with a Gyro freezer kit from Aldi & Greek Salad. Instacart has been a lifesaver for grocery deliveries while we’re stuck at home. For $20 off your first Instacart oder, use my referral code, AEMMERLING18D112.
- Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna): I previously made this Greek pastitsio recipe from Recipe Girl and highly recommend it!
Other popular foods in Greece include Souvlaki, Moussaka, Spanakopita, Dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves) and Baklava.
Activities to Learn About Greece at Home
Greece was another fun country to learn about with the amount of Greek activities for kids available. And recreating the Ancient Greek Olympics at home was definitely a highlight! Below are more ideas for Greek activities for kids.
- Print this free Greece coloring book to learn about Greece.
- Recreate the Ancient Greek Olympics with an Olympics event at home. Events like running, jumping, wrestling and discuss throwing. Learn more about the ancient olympic games here.
- Make a laurel wreath craft using a paper plate and green construction paper.
- Cut out the inside of the paper plate.
- Cut leaves out of construction paper.
- Glue the leaves around the paper plate.
- Learn about ancient Greece with this Greece YouTube video for kids
- Mosaics were first created in ancient Greece. Make your own mosaic by following this kids mosaic craft from Crayola.
Family Movies Set in Greece
The Bahamas is a chain of islands within the West Indies, and it’s located just 50 miles southeast of Florida. It’s a popular tourist destination for the warm weather year-round and the number of Caribbean cruises that stop there. The Bahamas has a history of piracy and an interesting evolution before it became the draw for tourism that it is today.
We were originally supposed to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas that was canceled due to Covid-19. We decided to not only learn about the Bahamas at home but also have a fun cruise day with a Caribbean Cruise style pool party at home. (This was definitely one of our favorite stay at home activities for toddlers or kids of any age!)
Traditional Bahamian Food Recipes
Given the island vibe and amount of fishing done in the Bahamas, seafood is plentiful. We unfortunately didn’t have access to fresh seafood and opted for some Bahamian comfort food instead.
- Bahamian Chicken Sousa: This Bahamian chicken soup recipe is a common hangover cure in the Bahamas. (The combination of red pepper and lime are thought to do the trick!) It’s a great cold weather meal as well.
- Johnnycakes: This cake is more of a biscuit or cornbread (without the corn) and it’s great to pair with the chicken sousa.
Other popular foods in the Bahamas include Conch, Snapper Fish, Pigeon Peas and Rice, and Guava Duff for dessert.
Activities to Learn About the Bahamas
- Learn about sea life in the Bahamas and make an underwater scene craft. We made ours using construction paper, foam sheets, watercolor paints and a paper straw to make bubbles. You can get creative and use whatever art supplies you have at home!
- Take a glass bottom boat tour virtually with videos of Bahamas’ coral reef. While watching, you can play with water beads and make a fish sensory bin.
- Learn about the history of piracy in the Bahamas, including the infamous Blackbeard. Make one of these fun pirate crafts for kids.
- Listen to Caribbean music and recreate a Junkanoo celebration at home with these carnival masks.
Family Movies Set in the Bahamas
Recreate a Cruise at Home
Did you have to cancel a Caribbean cruise? Although it’s not quite the same, you can easily recreate the experience at home! As I mentioned above, that’s exactly what we did! (And it’s perfect if you’re looking for a creative rainy day activity at home.) Below are some fun ideas for cruising at home.
- Listen to Caribbean music.
- Make a fun tropical drink. We opted for non-alcoholic Miami Vices made with with fresh fruit. (Since I’m pregnant and I shared drinks with my toddler.)
- Wear swimsuits and beach hats.
If you’re stuck inside like us, have a “pool party” in the bathtub. You can decorate the bathroom with bright colors, and add fun toys, bubbles and music. If you’re lucky enough to have warm weather, you can bring the party outside with fun water games.
Hawaii is the only destination on this family bucket list within the US- and for good reason! Not only is it pretty far to travel to Hawaii from the East Coast, but it has such a different feel from any state in the mainland United States. Hawaii is made up of eight larger islands in the Pacific Ocean. It’s known for its diverse landscape, with volcanoes, coral reefs, jungles and beaches.
If you’re looking for a way to escape the gloomy weather like us, Hawaii is the perfect destination to travel from home to!
Traditional Hawaiian Food Recipes
Hawaiian cuisine is influenced by the history of those who inhabited it, and it’s a fusion of fresh flavors. Some of the unique fruits, vegetables and flavors come from Polynesia and the rest of Asia, as well as the United States and Europe. Below are some of the Hawaiian meals we tried during our travel from home.
- Acai Bowls are a popular Hawaiian breakfast that technically originated in Brazil. Most acai bowl recipes include an acai blend and are topped with additional fruits, granola and honey.
- Loco Moco is a Hawaiian meal that was first introduced by the popular Hawaiian food chain, Loco Moco. Most Loco Moco recipes include sticky rice, a meat patty and egg topped with gravy.
- Poké Bowls were made popular in Hawaii and are filled with raw seafood, rice, veggies and fruit. You can find several poke recipes here. (You can also substitute with cooked meat or fish if raw seafood isn’t your thing!)
- Dole Whip is a fun food to make when learning about Hawaii, given that the Dole Plantation is located in Hawaii. Here’s an easy Dole Whip recipe shared by Disney: Blend 4 oz pineapple juice, 1 scoop ice cream & 2 cups frozen pineapple. This makes about two servings.
- Spam is oddly super popular in Hawaii, and apparently more Spam is consumed in Hawaii than any other state in the US. Two Hawaiian Spam dishes to try are Spam and eggs for breakfast or Spam Masubi.
Hawaiian Themed Activities
- Find out where Hawaii is located on the map.
- Color a free Hawaii state printable from Crayola to learn about the Hawaiian flower and national bird of Hawaii.
- Make a Hawaiian lei with construction paper, string and paper straws (pictured above.)
- Learn how to hula dance with I Hula Hawaii videos on YouTube.
- Learn about the Dole Plantation in Oahu
- Make pineapple Dole Whips (see recipe above)
- Make tiny pineapples using pinecones found on a nature walk. Paint the pinecones yellow and add leaves using green construction paper.
- Learn about Hawaiian sea life and make an underwater sea craft (see Bahamas above.) Common Hawaiian sea life includes stingrays, sea lions, coral reef fish and sea turtles.
Kids Movies Set in Hawaii
- Lilo & Stitch Disney series
- Disney’s Moana has both Hawaiian and Samoan influences
- More family-friendly movies in Hawaii include:
- Jurassic Park & Jurassic World
- 50 First Dates
- Pearl Harbor
- Blue Crush
- The Descendents
- Soul Surfer
After doing a road trip through Northern Ireland, we knew that Scotland had to be our next visit to the United Kingdom. Scotland is marked by lush, green hills, a beautiful coast and castles throughout. What Scotland might lack in cuisine, it makes up for in scenic views. With tales like the Loch Ness Monster and a history of golf and royal monarchies, it’s a fun country to learn about with kids.
Traditional Scottish Recipes
Scottish food reminds me of more hearty, comfort food. Potatoes, oats and beef are some of the main ingredients. Below are the popular Scottish foods we made.
- Porridge is an easy Scottish breakfast that’s similar to oatmeal found in US.
- Scottish Tablet is a fudge-like recipe that’s SO sweet you may only be able to eat one piece. You can find a Scottish tablet recipe here.
- Scotch Eggs were actually first created in Yorkshire, but they’re popular in Scotland as well. It’s a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage that’s either baked or fried. You can serve it with chips (fries) or Clapshot (a potato and turnip mash.) We used this Scotch egg recipe.
Additional favorite foods in Scotland include Cullen Sink (fish stew), Haggis, ‘Neeps and ‘Tatties (turnips and potatoes), plus British favorites like fish and chips, black pudding and more. Shortbread and battered Mars Bars are two popular desserts in Scotland as well.
Activities to Learn About Scotland
- Find out where Scotland is on the map and color a Scottish flag
- Learn about the legend of the Loch Ness monster and paint a Loch Ness monster with this free printable from LearnCreateLove.
- Make a sheep with cotton balls or play this fun sheep game. Scotland has more sheep than people!
- Play a game of golf or make up a course in your backyard. Golfing dates back the 1400s in Scotland.
- Listen to bagpipe music and make your own with this Bonnie Bagpipe craft from Crayola
- Recreate the Scottish Highland Games with events including the caber (log) toss, tug o’ war, shot put and hammer throw.
Movies Filmed in Scotland for Kids
- Disney’s Brave
- Harry Potter Series
- Loch Ness
- Braveheart isn’t kid-friendly but a must see if you’re looking for movies based in Scotland
We’ve had this European country on our family travel bucket list for quite a while. From the beautiful beaches, wineries and small towns to the larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, I love the diverse experiences that come along with a trip to Spain. There is also some amazing food in Spain to choose from. While traveling virtually to Spain, we loved making and eating traditional Spanish food while along with some fun learning activities.
Traditional Spanish Food Recipes
Spain is definitely a country known for its food, and even our travel from Home to Spain didn’t disappoint when it came to food. Below are the Spanish food recipes we made.
- Tortilla de Patatas: This Spanish omelette is simple and made with eggs, potatoes, onions and olive oil. We used this Spanish omelette recipe but used less olive oil to sautee the potatoes and onions versus frying them. It can be eaten for breakfast or lunch.
- Spanish Churros: Since the churro originated in Spain, we knew we had to make them. Churros in Spain are typically coated with sugar only, instead of the cinnamon and sugar topping found on the churros we usually see in the US. You can find an easy Spanish churro recipe here.
- Paella is one of the most popular dishes found in Spain. The typical Paella takes hours to make, but you can find an easy Paella recipe here. (Or, you can totally cheat like we did and get frozen paella from Trader Joe’s.)
Other popular foods in Spain include gazpacho, a variety of tapas, pollo al ajillo (chicken) and patatas bravas (potatoes.)
Activities to Learn About Spain
We loved learning about Spain with some fun new activities and learning about unique traditions. Below are some ideas for at home activities for kids (and adults) when traveling virtually to Spain.
- Identify where Spain is on the map.
- Watch Flamenco dancers on YouTube, including this Flamenco segment on Sesame Street for kids. Make Flamenco fans or castanets (clapper instruments) to follow along with the music.
- Learn a few Spanish words using the DuoLingo app.
- Study Pablo Picasso’s paintings and color a Picasso coloring page.
- Take a virtual tour of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
- Convince the whole family to take a Spanish siesta in the afternoon.
- Recreate the running of the bulls at home. (You can dress up in white with a red sash or just use a red bandana/ towel. Then take turns playing the bull or the runners. This was a favorite of my toddler’s!)
- If you’re feeling really crazy, you can have a tomato fight like Spain’s tomato throwing festival, La Tomatina.
Family Movies Set in Spain
- Ferdinand the Bull (You can also watch Disney’s original Ferdinand short movie on Disney+)
- The Road to Eldorado
- The Underdogs
Portugal is another European country in the Mediterranean, and with its proximity next to Spain we didn’t have to “travel” far to learn about Portugal next. It’s the most western country in the main part of Europe, and it’s a predominantly coastal country that’s surrounded by beautiful beaches. With a history deep in discovery and exploration, Portugal has had a pretty significant impact on other countries across the world, including some that we traveled to virtually.
Traditional Portuguese Food Recipes
There’s a lot of overlap between Spanish and Portuguese foods, but Portugal definitely has flavors of its own. Similar to the other countries, we made a Portuguese breakfast food, dinner and dessert found in Portugal.
- Malasadas are Portuguese donuts. With the Portuguese influence in Hawaii, these have since become popular in Hawaii too. (We didn’t have yeast when visiting Hawaii virtually, or we would have made them previously!) We followed this easy Portuguese donut recipe.
- Our Portuguese dinner was Caldo Verde, which is a green soup. It was perfect for the cool weather we were having at the time. You can find an easy caldo verde recipe here. (We substituted hot italian sausage for the Portuguese sausage since it’s all we could find.)
- We made Arroz Doce for dessert, which is a popular Portuguese rice pudding. You can find an easy Portuguese rice pudding recipe here.
Activities to Learn About Portugal
- Identify where Portugal is on the map and color a Portuguese flag.
- Read about the legend of the Gallo de Barcelos and make a Portuguese Rooster of your own.
- Learn about Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who was the first to sail around the world. Make a replica of his ship using wine cork for the base, craft sticks or chopsticks and paper sales. (Fun fact: Portugal also produces half of the world’s cork- which is why we incorporated it into our ship.)
- Have a sand sculpture contest using kinetic sand if you don’t have access to the real thing. Portugal has the largest sand sculpture festival in the world, Fiesa Sand City.
- Learn a few words in Portuguese.
- Take a virtual ride on the famous Lisbon Tram 28.
- Make a Portuguese craft using inspiration from the beautiful Azulejo tiles in Portugal.
- Learn about common fish in Portugal. With the coastline, fishing in Portugal is very popular.
*We’ve been watching a movie as part of learning about each country, but we weren’t able to find any in Portugal.
Remaining Destinations to Travel from Home
We still have a few more destinations to “visit” on our bucket list. Stay tuned as we travel virtually from home to the destinations below.
- Costa Rica
Additional Resources for Learning About Countries at Home
We hope you liked learning about different countries at home with us! Below are some additional resources we use for travel with kids and travel themed learning activities at home with kids.
- We love the Little Passports Early Learners subscription. There are options for kids of varying age ranges.
- This Lonely Planet Book About Countries for Kids is an awesome traveled themed book for kids and adults alike.
- Travel Books for Children (A full guide to some of our favorite kids travel books!)
- Crayola has some great travel themed activities and free coloring print outs.
- Inspiration and planning tips for traveling with young children:
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