The Best Map Guides
Published: June 2009
By Kimberly Robinson
let's call them "map guides"
There's a new breed of city map that combines basic street layouts with information typically found in books-- restaurant prices, museum hours, and nightlife options. Some are more successful than others, but it all comes down to your particular needs. Here are examples from the best series.
Streetwise Maps' Streetwise Vancouver and Artwise London ($5.95) Accordion-folding, waterproof board map with parks, hotels, and points of interest clearly marked. Artwise maps list hours and collections for galleries and museums.
Strengths: Small, easy to read.
Best for: The independent traveler who isn't worried about where to stop for lunch.
Series: 45 cities in 13 countries.
Let's Go Map Guide: New Orleans ($7.95) Clearly marked laminated foldout map with a 20-page insert, including menu recommendations for specific restaurants and lists of clubs, campsites, music festival dates, and emergency phone numbers.
Strengths: Complete enough for a weeklong visit.
Best for: Young and budget-conscious travelers (no luxury listings).
Series: Nine cities in four countries.
Fodor's Citypack Prague ($11) A huge, comprehensive street map and a small guidebook to sites, with smaller area maps, listings, and suggested itineraries, all packed into a tidy plastic wallet.
Strengths: Very well thought-out; lots of ideas.
Best for: The short-term visitor who doesn't intend to bring any other kind of guidebook.
Series: 14 cities in nine countries.
TripBuilder: Rome ($5.95) Booklet filled with detailed and amusing text about historic sites, with a foldout map in the middle; includes subway maps and walking-tour suggestions.
Strengths: Information you can't find in most guidebooks-- such as what Raphael really thought of the Arch of Constantine ("stupid and ridiculous").
Best for: A return visitor who is familiar with the city, to help plan an itinerary (no hotel or restaurant info).
Series: Seven cities in four countries.
MapEasy's Guidemap to San Francisco ($5.50) Colorful architectural drawings and large-scale street grids on one lightweight foldout waterproof sheet; indicates restaurants and hotels along with their price ranges, and includes public transportation routes.
Strengths: Highly portable; drawings convey the look of the city.
Best for: First-time or easily intimidated travelers.
Series: 34 cities in seven countries.
Fodor's Flashmaps: Washington, D.C. ($8.95) More book than map-- but it has everything, including maps on every page that indicate shopping districts, consulates, and libraries; even includes stadium seating charts.
Strengths: Provides addresses and telephone numbers for business listings; gives approximate price ranges of restaurants and hotels.
Best for: The frequent visitor or new resident.
Series: 15 cities in four countries.