If you are driving to an unfamiliar area, or are simply prone to getting lost in your own backyard, a street map is indispensable for getting you to your location.
- Mapquest. One of the oldest mapping websites is still one of the best. MapQuest provides street-level maps of nearly any country in the world. You can zoom in close enough to see each street in detail and zoom out far enough to see several states at once. MapQuest maps can also be e-mailed or sent to a PDA or cell phone. The disadvantage of these maps is that when you are zoomed in close enough to see individual streets, you can't see a very wide area.
- Yahoo! Yahoo! also provides interactive maps, which is similar to MapQuest. However, they also include current traffic conditions with their maps, which can be very useful if you're driving in a large city. A new feature is aerial views of the area which you are mapping. This is probably not a very useful travel feature, but it is quite interesting.
- GPS navigators. If you have a GPS device, or are fortunate enough to have a vehicle which came with one, you can access street maps. The advantage of these systems is that not only do they show you where you need to go, they also show where you currently are. Some will even verbally guide you, telling you when you need to turn and in which direction.
- Tourism offices. If you need a street map of a large city, you can call or stop by its tourism office, or access its website. Use your favorite search engine to search for the city to which you are traveling, and it will usually yield a phone number or website for the tourism department.
- Local stores. Most local stores, such as convenience stores and gas stations, will have street maps of the area. In addition, state maps usually have street-level maps of the major cities on the reverse side.
- Mapathon. This is a website which provides online maps of nearly every metropolitan area in the United States. To access the Mapathon site for your area, type "www.mapathon.com/state abbreviation.shtml." For example, to find a street map of Madison, Wisconsin, enter http://www.mapathon.com/wi.shtml, then follow the links to a map of Madison.
If you choose to print out on online map for reference when you are traveling, be sure to use as large a piece of paper as possible. An 11" x 17" sheet is ideal. Street maps contain lots of detail - you don't want to be peering at tiny, hard-to-read print on a map when you're in an unfamiliar area!