Rather than honing in immediately on specific attractions in a region, try to take a broader approach right off the bat. Use travel guides to get a general feel for the area that you will be visiting; take your time and read a few travelogues about the region.
A travel guide can be a great companion that can introduce you to a new world. Optimise your travel experience by learning how to use the features within them.
Online, world travel guides are coming into their own. While they may never beat a solid guidebook that you can dog ear and mark up as you travel the world, they are becoming more valuable for research pre-departure. Thanks to the minimal resources required to create a travel guide online (no publishers, distributors, materials, etc.) we will continue to see more pop up as the world gets smaller.