It was Open House New York this past weekend, that weekend when a lot of institutions swing their doors open and allow you in. Some are worth a long trek in and of themselves (a colleague went out to JFK to see the old TWA terminal, with all its swooping curves, and I traveled an hour 45 to get to Fort Totten), while others benefit from being near those far flung sites. For instance, after my friend and I were through with Fort Totten, we visited the Bayside Historical Society, on the ground of Fort Totten Park. Would we have made a special trip to see them had we not been drawn by Fort Totten itself?
No. But we were glad we did; they've done a great job as positioning themselves as a center of history, restoring a beautiful old building, and keeping it active. Communities need groups like this to step in and keep the history for the future, the more arcane items that won't be written into the tomes, but are important to understanding "what life was like..."
There are places like this all around. When we spent a few days in the Finger Lakes area at the end of August I was enamored with the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira. I suggest you seek some of these places out, spend a couple hours, and maybe even fall in love.