Finding Historical Places: Tips and Tools for your Travels

Ever since I’ve started this blog I have gotten this one question more than any other. “George, how do you find out about all these cool places?” Indeed, it can be difficult to discover, let alone decide, on which places to go to. Generally, most people I have met love to visit historical places and museums. Unfortunately, a number of issues usually get in the way of this desire. While I cannot solve the problems of admissions or travel, I can show you some tips, tools, and resources I use in order to decide where to go.

 

Get to know your travel destinations. I would say this is the most general tip, as you should look into places in detail whenever you plan to travel. Even if you only know which town or county you want to go to, you never know what will happen during your visit. Having more options to explore is much better than having very few.

It is often a good idea to look at a map so you know what is around the area. Many lists businesses, landmarks, and places of interest. Do not just rely on GPS! They do not do a very good job of introducing you to new places around you unless you actively explore them for that purpose. Once you do your preliminary research on your destination and its history, it is time to start nailing down where you plan to go.

 

I've always been taught to take a look at maps and detail before you go to your desired location. It makes traveling much easier, and you learn more about the area. Historical sites are often considered national parks, being visible on most maps. (Photo: Pexels)
I’ve always been taught to take a look at maps and research before going to your desired location. It makes traveling much easier, and you learn more about the area. Historical sites are often considered national parks, being visible on most maps. (Photo: Pexels)

 

Use online lists and blogs. While often not practical for finding the one museum to satisfy your interests, they are great tools to find places in towns near you or at your target destination. Many states also have great tourism websites specifically for this purpose. For example, New Jersey’s Tourism website, VisitNJ, has its own list. It has a myriad of options including what type of place you are looking for and certain accommodations like being pet-friendly or admission free. Outside of state-funded websites, Wikipedia also has its own list, yet it is not as detailed as VisitNJ. as do a number of other blogs like mine. So yes, even

Blogs also do a great job of showcasing places to visit. Some will list places periodically, while others, like mine, will focus entries in certain areas. So yes, even New Jersey’s Historical Suitcase is a great source for this as well! Instagram accounts are also a platform bloggers use. I personally recommend NJSpots, as they do cover historical places from time to time.

 

 

 

Apps are incredibly useful and convenient. Many use location and GPS tracking to ensure a better experience. With your smartphone in hand, they help you discover places while you are on the go. Yelp is a well-known app (also has a mobile site) that covers everything from restaurants to doctor’s offices, with museums in between. Make sure you select the “Public Services and Government” tab when you search in order to focus only on historical sites and museums. While I do not recommend Yelp as your go-to app for this purpose, it might already be something you already have downloaded on your phone. Additionally, the ratings and pictures that users add on the app can give you a great sneak peak on your destination.

However, my go-to app is History Channel’s “History Here” app. While the network is more known for Pawn Stars and Ancient Aliens nowadays, I think we can let it slide because they created this great free app for us! Maybe. Anyway, its purpose revolves around showing you an overhead map of where you are while highlighting historical places of significance in proximity. It is an incredibly handy tool that I use almost every time I go out for research! It is also very fun exploring your hometown or local area of interest with it.

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Screenshot of Philadephia, PA in the History Here app. The red dots are historical areas of interest. (Photo: George Macey)

 

Research history. This can be done through books, movies, classes, YouTube programs such as CrashCourse, or general research on the web. If you love history this is already something you should be doing! It might sound boring at first, but there is a lot of reward to using this method.

New Jersey culture and history extend back through the Revolutionary War and into the colonial period. Like previously stated in other entries, NJ has been around for over 350 years. Knowing about the wars, events, and people that went through the state could yield knowledge on many areas. After reading about them, use one of the aforementioned lists. I’m sure you will find what you are looking for because many important historical places still stand to this day.

 

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Don’t be afraid to do a little research. Not only will it help you find places, but you will learn more while you do it! (Photo: JISC)

 

Ask people around you. If all else fails, you never know what places your family or friends might know about. This might be an especially helpful method because they can relate it to you with their own personal experiences like I do on this blog. Don’t just stop at asking family and friends! Talk to someone who knows a lot or studies about history. This could be a social studies teacher, college professor, librarian, or state worker. There will be a good chance they know what’s around the area or in the state that is worth seeing.

Sometimes historical places and museums are not publicly in databases or for the general public, leaving you at the mercy of local people. Many colleges are guilty of not promoting museums and smaller programs that faculty and students try to create. Ask away, because you will never know what you will find! I use this method a lot to find the best content for you, my readers.

In fact, next week’s article will focus on Red Bank Battlefield, a suggestion I received from one of my professors!

 

Talking and learning from others is a great and productive way into finding some of the best historical sites to visit. (Photo: Mak @ PEC)
Talking and learning from others is a great and productive way to find some of the best historical sites to visit. (Photo: Matt @ PEK)

 

Do you know any other ways to find historical places and museums? Feel free to leave a comment to tell us all about it. It is impossible for me to cover every single museum and every single location in this blog. If you want to see a specific location, please shoot me a message or email, I would love to hear some feedback. If it is possible, I will definitely make an effort to go to your requested area. Otherwise, I hope you have fun exploring to see what has been waiting for you!

 

Until next time, see you later!

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