Discovering Museums: An Essential Museum Guide for Tourists

Discovering Museums: An Essential Museum Guide for Tourists

Table of Contents

Museums are some of the most popular tourist attractions, whether you’re a seasoned museum-goer or a first-time tourist. They are places to see beautiful artworks or historical artifacts and offer unique cultural experiences that can enrich your travels. From art and science to history and technology, museums provide exhibits and programs that appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Preparing for a museum visit can help you maximize your experience and fully appreciate the exhibits. By researching in advance, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable time. Moreover, preparing for your visit can help you avoid common pitfalls that would make your visit stressful and less enjoyable. With proper preparation, you can focus on immersing yourself in the museum’s atmosphere without any distractions.

In this comprehensive museum guide, you’ll know what to do so your museum visit goes off without a hitch. Whether you’re visiting a small local museum or a large international museum, these tips will help you make the most of your visit. You can leave feeling inspired, informed, and excited to explore more.

What To Do Before Your Museum Visit

Being prepared before your museum visit assures you have an enlightening excursion. Here’s what you should do before your field trip to the museum:

1. Research the museum’s exhibits and programs.

Researching the museum’s exhibits and programs can help you identify the exhibits that interest you the most. Look up the museum’s website or brochures to see what exhibits are on display, their descriptions, and their significance.

Moreover, you can check if the museum has any programs, such as workshops or talks, that align with your interests. Checking can add more depth to your visit and provide a more immersive experience.

2. Purchase tickets in advance.

SJI-Two Tickets

Purchasing tickets in advance can save you time and hassle on the day of your visit. Check the museum’s website or call their ticket office to see if they offer online ticketing or advanced ticket sales. Doing so can help you avoid long lines and ensure that you have access to any special exhibits or events.

Some museums also offer discounted ticket prices for online purchases, so check for any available promotions. Additionally, if you plan to visit with a large group, it’s a good idea to call ahead and inquire about group rates and reservations.

3. Prepare your transportation and parking.

Here’s another key tip for preparing for your museum visit: organize your transportation and parking in advance. Consider the different transportation options, such as public transportation, ride-sharing services, or driving your vehicle. Also, check the museum’s website or contact their visitor center for the best route and parking options.

If you plan to drive, leave enough time for traffic and parking. Leaving early will ensure you get there on time and have enough time to find a decent parking spot.

4. Pack your essentials.

SJI-Woman with Backpack

Having your essentials can make your visit comfortable and enjoyable. Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and snacks to keep your energy levels up. Comfortable shoes are also a must, as visiting a museum requires much walking and standing.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring a small backpack or bag to carry your essentials and any souvenirs you may purchase. By packing these essentials, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your visit without worrying about hunger, thirst, or uncomfortable footwear.

What To Do During Your Visit

Once at the museum, having a solid plan can keep you from getting sidetracked. Remember that museums can be overwhelming, so knowing what to do is necessary. Here are smart tour guide tips to consider during your visit:

1. Get a map of the museum.

When arriving at the museum, head to the information desk and pick up a map. Having a blueprint will prevent you from getting lost and give you an idea of where everything is. Some museums even offer interactive maps allowing you to plan your route in advance, so you should check if this is available.

Besides getting a map, take some time to study it and plan your route. Identify the exhibits or areas that interest you the most and make a mental note of their location. It will save you time and stop you from missing out on something you wanted to see.

2. Follow museum etiquette.

SJI-Woman Taking Museum Picture

One of the most crucial museum guide tips is to comply with the protocol. Obeying museum etiquette shows you respect the curators’ work. You must refrain from using flash photography since this can damage the exhibits. In addition, you should avoid touching any displays or artwork, as the oils from your hands can cause deterioration.

You should also be mindful of any guidelines regarding food and drinks, as well as the use of mobile phones. Some museums may prohibit food and drinks in specific areas or require you to turn off your phone in certain exhibits.

3. Engage with exhibits and participate in programs.

SJI-Museum Tour

Engaging with exhibits can help you better appreciate what’s on display. Take your time to explore each exhibit thoroughly, read the descriptions, and appreciate the artifacts. If there are interactive displays or multimedia components, you can use them and fully engage with the exhibit.

Participating in programs like guided tours or workshops can also enhance your visit. The museums that offer these programs may require advance registration, so it’s best to check the museum’s website first.

4. Take breaks and rest as needed.

Museums can be physically and mentally demanding, so taking breaks is necessary. Sit down for a few minutes or grab a snack to recharge and be ready to take in more information.

Certain museums have designated rest areas or cafes where you can take a break and relax. Make sure to listen to your body and rest whenever you need to.

What To Do After Your Visit

Your museum trip may have ended, but there are still tips to remember to maximize your visit. Here’s what to do after your tour:

1. Reflect on what you learned and experienced.

SJI-Man Writing on Notebook

After your museum visit, take some time to reflect on what you learned during your time there. This pondering can involve reviewing notes or pictures you took or thinking about the impact the visit had on you.

Reflection can help you better understand and appreciate museums and their exhibits. It can also inspire you to continue learning and exploring in the future.

2. Share your thoughts and photos on social media.

Social media is a good platform to connect with other museum-goers and get new tour guide tips. Posting your thoughts and photos on social media can extend your museum experience beyond your visit. You can share your favorite exhibits, interesting facts you learned, or your overall impression of the museum.

Sharing on social media can inspire others to visit and appreciate the museum. Just remember to follow any photography policies of the museum and be respectful of other visitors.

3. Check out the museum’s gift shop for souvenirs.

SJI-Souvenir Shop

Visiting a museum gift shop lets you find unique souvenirs that remind you of your visit. Many museums sell exclusive items to their gift shops, such as books, postcards, art prints, and other merchandise featuring the museum’s collections or exhibits. By purchasing souvenir items, you’re supporting the institution and acquiring something with personal value and meaning.

Aside from browsing the merchandise, you can also ask the gift shop staff for recommendations on interesting items related to the museum. They know the museum’s collections and can provide insights into the exhibits.

4. Plan future museum visits or cultural experiences.

Planning your next cultural excursion can help you continue to learn and explore. Consider visiting another museum or taking part in virtual museum tours. Many museums offer virtual tours of their exhibits, allowing you to explore their collections from the comfort of your home.

Another option is to check for any upcoming events or exhibits at the museum you recently visited. A return visit will let you fathom what you might have missed the first time.

Key Takeaway

Visiting a museum can be fascinating and enriching, and proper preparation and planning make all the difference. Knowing what to do before, during, and after your visit can give you a deeper understanding of the exhibits’ subject matters. You can also appreciate a painting’s intricate details, marvel at an ancient artifact’s craftsmanship, or gain insights into a particular culture’s history. With the tips you learned in this museum guide, your next visit will be an immersive and enlightening experience.

Immerse yourself in history and culture by exploring the museums of St. John Island.

Besides immaculate beaches and breathtaking hiking trails, St. John Island is also home to museums that teach you about the island’s rich history. You can experience the island’s traditions, art, and culture through displays, presentations, and exhibits. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or looking for an educational adventure, the island’s museums are must-visit destinations.




The history of St. John is diverse and chaotic. Learn more about the lives of early settlers and how the area eventually became part of the National Park in 1957 at the Archeological Museum at Cinnamon Bay.



Some of the other attractions in St. John that could be of interest include the St. John Animal Center, Bordeaux Mountain Overlook, and the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library and Museum.

Reef Bay


Reef Bay Trail is the perfect way for you to discover the secrets of St. John’s ancient petroglyphs, sugar mill ruins, and tropical forests. This two-mile-long St. John hiking trail features a steep rocky path and lets you explore the inner depths of the island. Near its end is a freshwater pond.

Annaberg Hiking


If you want a relaxing experience, hiking on St. John, USVI, Annaberg Hiking Trail is the one to tackle. It’s more of a walk than a hike, so it’s excellent for first-time hikers and beginners. This trail contains paved paths that wander around the ruins of historical buildings. At the top of the trail, a stunning ocean view awaits you.



Hire a personal water taxi ride to and from your destination. A relaxing and comfortable way to go.

Cruise Ship


A comprehensive list of the major cruise ships and their schedules, arrival and departure times.



One thing to remember is that here people drive on the left side of the road. You may wonder if it is better to rent a vehicle in St. Thomas or St. John. Get the opinion of a local. There are several car rental companies to choose from.

Virgin Islands National


60% of St. John is a national park. This means that the island enjoys untouched beauty and splendor, preserved for many years, and will continue to be so for future generations to enjoy. 



With its history as rich as its landscape, you can visit and explore the many plantation ruins and archaic buildings still existing in St. John.

Lind Point


This short St. John hiking trail is perfect for all ages. It’s the best trail for families looking to experience a great bonding experience while surrounded by nature. At the trail’s end, breathtaking Salomon Beach awaits. Should you decide to walk for another half a mile, you will witness the clear blue waters of enchanting Honeymoon Beach.



St. John island has the best beaches in the Caribbean. Along the famous North Shore of St. John visitors will find several miles of award-winning national park beaches, each one more enticing than the next. Be sure to view our comprehensive Beach Guide.



You can extend your exploration by visiting one of the British Virgin Islands near St. John.

Spas &


St. John offers many ways to pamper and boost your spirit. Book an appointment with one of the salons, spas, and massage therapists in the area and feel rejuvenated like a whole new person.


in Cruz Bay

There are multiple shopping centers in St. John where you can shop till you drop and enjoy a search for that truly unique curio find.



With many local shops on Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay offering rental equipment for snorkeling and diving, you will have no problem finding the right equipment for your aquatic adventures.



You can go scuba diving and experience the amazing aquatic world beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea.



St. John has dozens of well-maintained trails where you can go strolling, running, or hiking while enjoying the tropical breeze and stunning views of the island.

Petroglyph Spur


Featuring a steep climb and narrow path, Petroglyph Spur Trail offers a bit of a challenge. However, the reward is indeed worth all the sweat and exhaustion. Aside from a freshwater pond, this trail offers viewings of petroglyphs from as early as 300 A.D. You might even see newly discovered ones.

Francis Bay


Francis Bay Walking Trail is among the easiest of St. John hiking trails to traverse, and it’s also wheelchair-accessible. While the vegetation is a little brushy in some spots, the views are undeniably picturesque. It also features the Salt Pond and a dry tropical forest for you to explore



Cinnamon Bay is the longest stretch of white sandy beach on St. John Island. Private ceremonies can be held on the beach with a tranquil, relaxing and intimate atmosphere. There are no fees for entering or using the beach.Cinnamon Bay is the longest stretch of white sandy beach on St. John Island. Private ceremonies can be held on the beach with a tranquil, relaxing and intimate atmosphere. There are no fees for entering or using the beach.



In 1969, NASA along with the US Navy and the Department of Interior (DOI) launched a study at Lameshur Bay to evaluate what would happen when people live and work underwater. The first structure that was built for this experiment was called Tektite, and the Tektite Trail follows the original quarter mile road used to deliver supplies to the aquanauts. Unmarked and barely visible, the entrance to the Tektite Trail starts at the bottom of the concrete paved road that leads to both Great and Little Lameshur bays.

The first Tektite experiment was a success and a second experiment, deemed Tektite II, was launched later that year that included the world’s first all-female team of scientists to live underwater. Tektite and Tektite II were each built of two cylindrical tubes about 12 feet wide and 18 feet high that sat 50 feet underwater throughout the mission.

Today the structure is gone, but the underlying foundation underwater remains, as does the trail to the entrance. The original base camp is now the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station (VIERS), located between Great and Little Lameshur Bays and run by Clean Islands International on behalf of the University of the Virgin Islands. Visit the Tektite Museum at VIERS for some cool artifacts from that crazy time in 1969.



Trunk Bay is the most popular beach and considered one of the top beaches in the world. There is a $4.00 charge per person daily from 7:30am – 4:30pm. Trunk Bay is a picturesque location for weddings any time of the day. It is most noted for sunset weddings.



Hawksnest Beach is a beautiful stretch of white sand. It is an unforgettable place for a wedding. It offers restrooms and a place to change clothes for the Bridal couple and their guests. Hawksnest Beach is best for morning weddings because the lighting is absolutely phenomenal for photographs. There are no fees to enter or to use this beach and there is plenty of parking. Ceremonies of St. John offers canopy and chair rentals.

Annaberg Plantation


Annaberg Plantation Ruins was once a Danish sugar mill and plantation back in 1780. It was named after William Gottschalk’s daughter. Annaberg translates to Anna’s Hill. There are many charming settings for a wedding ceremony to be held within this elegant historical plantation with breathtaking views.

The ruins are open to the public and protected by the Virgin Islands National Park. If you are interested in having your wedding here you would want to schedule it in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Since the plantation is open to the public, it can get very crowded during mid day.

Peace Hill


Clearly marked and accessible from North Shore Road (Rt. 20), the Peace Hill Trail offers far more than the obvious. A small parking lot allows for only about eight cars and is rarely full. Follow a wide path straight up from the parking lot to a flat knoll where lies an old sugar mill ruin. Great 300 degree view of the North Shore of St. John and across to the British Virgin Islands, those who only go this far are missing the best part.

From the parking lot on the way up to Peace Hill is an unmarked entrance to a half mile trail that takes you directly to Denis Bay beach. The trail and the west area of Denis Bay are park land, while the land to the east with a residential dwelling is privately owned. The west side of Denis Bay is the most interesting, with large black volcanic rocks, warmed sitting pools, and a small rocky island just off the shoreline with excellent snorkeling all around. Denis Bay also offers interesting sights and sounds. Boats cruise along the North Shore of St. John (Windward Passage and The Narrows) heading through Sir Francis Drake Channel to the British Virgin Islands, which can be seen from Denis Bay beach in the distance. Water crafts range from small motored dinghies to multi-hulled sailing vessels, and there’s never a shortage of things to watch. Visitors to Denis Bay beach are guaranteed an active view and a classic tropical beach environment.

Bordeaux Mountain


Heading down the Bordeaux Mountain trail is a breeze, and puts hikers at Little Lameshur Bay for a refreshing dip in the clear Caribbean Sea. Heading up, you’ll wish you had made other plans!

Bordeaux Mountain trail is accessible at the top of Bordeaux Mountain Road, from an often unmarked trail head, and descends steeply a little more than a mile to the bay below. Head west to the Lameshur Bay trail to get to Reef Bay, or head east down the road to Great Lameshur Bay. Remember, only the latter will have any jeep traffic, so if you’re tired and looking to hitch, don’t head to Reef Bay!

Europa Spur


Along the Lameshur Bay trail is a spur trail to Europa Bay, about a half mile in. When the Lameshur Bay trail reaches the Reef Bay trail, make a right up the Reef Bay trail just 50 yards to the Petroglyph spur trail, or make a left down the Reef Bay trail about a mile to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins, Reef Bay beach and greater Genti Bay.

Yawzi Point


Surprisingly named for a disease called Yaws, Yawzi Point marks the location where natives who were stricken years ago were isolated. Accessible from the Lameshur Bay beach road (between Great Lameshur Bay and Little Lameshur Bay), the Yawzi Point trail is just over a quarter mile and offers hikers a great sampling of local vegetation and breathtaking waterfront overlooks.

Lameshur Bay


Almost two miles from Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay, the Lameshur Bay trail offers many points of interests to hikers. Accessible from the end of Rt. 107 (Lameshur Bay road), the trail is wide and wanders through deep forest for the first half mile, then follows a ridge called the White Cliffs for the second half, ending about a mile up from the water at the Reef Bay trail. Hikers will find massive hollow trees still standing, wild deer and mongoose, and dozens of different birds enjoying the day overhead. Hiking along the White Cliffs of Lameshur Bay trail will bring you into bright sun, so remember the sunblock when you pack that extra water.

Cinnamon Bay


One of the trails that are open year-round is Cinnamon Bay Trail. Dogs are allowed, but they must be on a leash. With its shaded loop, this trail is beautiful and pleasant to visit anytime. This trail offers a close-up look at the old sugar factories, echoing the island’s history.



You won’t find this trail on the national park hiking maps for St. John Island, but L’Esperance is one of the most interesting. Catch the entrance to L’Esperance trail on the south side of Centerline Rd. (Route 10) about a quarter mile past the Virgin Islands National Park sign at Catherineberg. Round trip, the L’Esperance trail is almost six miles, so bring plenty of water and start your hike early in the day to ensure you will return before dark. L’Esperance trail follows the Fish Bay Gut, with at least four different ruins sites not seen by many visitors. The trail veers east about halfway down and crosses over the Mollendal gut along the Sieben Ridge and down to Genti Bay, the greater area of water of which Reef Bay beach lies just to the east. You’ve hiked this far, might as well walk on over to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins, just beyond the forest line at the beach, and down the Reef Bay trail about a mile to the Petroglyphs spur trail.

Brown Bay


Untouched and unspoiled are two of the best descriptions for the Brown Bay Trail. While it’s among the list of St. John, USVI, hiking trails that are not very well-maintained, it has its own charm and beauty. It leads to a private shallow cove that offers a peaceful escape. You will see starfish, conch, and loads of fish there.

Johnny Horn


Considered a moderately challenging route, Johnny Horny Trail takes about two hours to complete. It features a clear path, thanks to the foraging feral donkeys and goats in the area. This trail is steep and exposed to the sun, so you might want to bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you energized. It leads to historical sites and amazing views.

Turtle Point


With the rugged natural setting of Turtle Point Trail, you are sure to experience refreshing tropical breezes and witness impressive views. It follows Hawksnest Point’s rocky shoreline and passes through a dry forest and coastal terrain. Along the path, there are strategically placed benches where you can sit and relax.

Salt Pond Drunk Bay Spur


If you’ve opted to head out to Salt Pond, one of the national park beaches along the south shore of St. John Island, and you’re looking for a nice surprise, hike the short Drunk Bay spur trail, which starts at the far east end of Salt Pond bay and follows the Salt Pond along the north side for a half mile to Drunk Bay. A flat, and sometimes hot, walk from Salt Pond, Drunk Bay offers visitors who make the trek a fun surprise.

While the rocky, rough shores of Drunk Bay are not conducive to swimming, the famous bay clearly supports, and some say prompts, creative expression. While you may not see them at first, look closely to discover dozens, then hundreds, of coral statues along the rocky beach. Using the various formations of coral along the shoreline, inspired visitors for decades have created a bevy of “coral people” using the stones to create heads, torsos, arms and legs. Partially shredded coconut for hair, sargassum weed for clothes, and crooked pieces of drift wood allow for unlimited artistic opportunities. Add your creative two cents and build your beauty at Drunk Bay.

Drunk Bay Spur


If visiting Salt Pond, take an easy, quarter-mile flat hike over to Drunk Bay. Drunk Bay shore is rocky with rough waves, but also has a surprise awaiting all who visit. It takes only some coral with a little flotsam and jetsam thrown in to make the island’s most creative outlet. Hike the short distance over to Drunk Bay to find out for yourself what everyone is talking about!

Ram Head


Being one of the most unique and visually stimulating St. John, USVI, hiking trails, there’s no way you should miss Ram Head Trail. This one takes you on a rocky path that leads to a blue cobble beach, the hillside, and then finally, an overlook that’s 200 feet above the Caribbean Sea.

Rental & Charter


There are a number of boat rental places in St. John that offer various cruising options, including sightseeing tours, island hopping tours, and snorkeling and diving tours. Come and enjoy the dazzling blue waters of the Caribbean while observing the splendid views and relaxing in the refreshing sea breeze.