As you might have found out by now, Google Maps is not only about directions. Google Maps is composed of different layers, each a composite of rich information. Zoom into a site (i.e. a location point on a map), and you can search for specific markers located in the vicinity of the area. You can switch on the layers one by one and hunt for information.
As you can see from the screenshot below, you can make the layers visible by a mouse-over the square widget on the top right-hand corner of the map. A menu with available layers for your map drops down, and you can click on More… to view additional layers like live webcams, videos, Wikipedia articles on the area, bicycling routes etc.
The above screenshot shows a few live webcams around New York City. I have personally found it to be a great tool to learn more about a place before planning a trip. Try out a map with the Wikipedia layer.