The Best Map Guides
Published: May 2009
By Elaine Glusac
Map guides can make intelligent navigation easy, but which
should you tote?We tested out six in San Francisco
Detailed street grids, uncluttered graphics, and indexes to streets and attractions make Insight Flexi-Map ($7.95) ideal for drivers. The laminated series gives info on nuts-and-bolts destinations, and lists "10 sights you shouldn't miss" (the Muir Woods makes the cut). The series covers about 100 destinations worldwide.
Take the Zagat survey's restaurants, plot them on streets, and you've got a Zagat Map ($5.95), the travel planner for foodies heading to San Francisco, Chicago, New York, L.A., or London. An alphabetical list of restaurants—color-coded by cuisine—with their numerical ratings fills the margins.
Do you travel to shop?Pop a Red Map ($5.95) in your Kate Spade. Updated twice annually and available for eight cities in the United States and Europe, Red Maps list hotels and restaurants (Hotel Palomar, MC2) and suggest more unusual activities, but devote the most ink to stores.
The British series iMap ($6.95) packs loads of info (sights, restaurants, travel essentials) into a six-page flip-book, but sticks to beaten paths in 35 cities in the United States and abroad. A tiny attached compass helped us find Grace Cathedral.
The artsy MapEasy Guidemap ($5.95) may not be geographically comprehensive (good luck getting around the Mission District), but they deliver quirky tidbits (America's first topless bars were here, on Broadway) and walking tours, on an illustrated map.
Sophisticated and candid ("there's nothing in-the-know about Pier 39"), the Cognoscenti Map Guide ($7.95) prints mini-reviews of style-conscious eats, sleeps, and sights on one side, and a graphics-heavy, 17-by-24-inch map on the other. Guides are available for 12 cities in the United States and Europe.