I’ve been away visiting historic sites, museums, and more which will appear on this site over the next months. Of course I’m also planning more visits, too, for myself first and to share after.
Most of the time, I make deliberate plans to visit sites. On occasion, I’m more spontaneous. In either case, however, here are some of the things I try to take into account:
Open Hours — this is probably the biggest thing to check in advance. If it’s a Saturday in the summer, you’re probably good if you head wherever around mid-day. Other than that, though, checking for a website and posted hours is always wise. I recently drove back through part of my state on a Monday in August and several historic sites near my route were only open Wed-Sat or such.
Directions — also a good idea to check on websites. I know this is an era of GPS, but GPS devices are not always right! Particularly for places located out in less traveled areas. I’ve been to two high-profile places eminently worth visiting and in very different locations both of which warn visitors that GPS can lead them seriously astray. (For the curious, the two places I have in mind are Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and the Mount Washington Cog Railway Base Station in New Hampshire; in the case of the former you might find yourself wandering around rather aimlessly while the latter can leave you on the wrong side of the mountain).
Cost — if this matters, check in advance. Some are free, including some absolutely wonderful places. Others charge, and the fees can rack up high particularly if you’re not on your ownsome.
Guided tours / demonstrations — these are often highly worthy of attending, but don’t happen just by chance. If you haven’t decided when to visit somewhere, see if they offer any thing for which day/time is key and take that into consideration.
Special events — these complicate parking (assuming you aren’t there early) and can create long lines, but they also offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Your call. Be aware that, especially if you’re not a local or extremely plugged in, you may not even be aware a special event is scheduled until you arrive. Yes, this happened to me. I had a general idea there was something on a particular weekend at a particular site, but I thought it was for Sunday not Saturday. It was great timing, but completely accidental (and I was there early, so I had no trouble parking)
Accessibility — if this matters, check. More and more sites are preparing to ensure people with various situations can enjoy as much as possible, but it’s still catch-as-catch-can (as some of you likely know better than I)
I could keep on going on, but will stop for now. The main thing is: if you’re interested in historic places, go visit, talk, look, smell, touch, feel, and store up memories. (And ask questions, too, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)