Map Quest

Our search for the best maps in town

By: By Anne Burke

Clients shopping for the right city travel map are likely to lose their way among the dizzying selection on store shelves. Here are some tips for figuring out which among today’s top sellers will best suit your client. Most of these maps have write-on, wipe-off laminated surfaces, so remind clients to bring along a dry-erase marker.



Lonely Planet
The sturdy, laminated City Map folds out to a manageable 19 by 19 inches and packs so much info that clients can almost leave their guidebook at home. One side contains a large-scale map of the main tourist district; the reverse is chock full of features: a nicely written exposition on top-10 tourist sights, transit map, street index, temperature and rainfall charts and handy list of phone numbers. Lonely Planet occasionally strays into the world of the obvious: Who doesn’t already know you can flag down a taxi on the street in Barcelona? $8.99.




The Florida-based publisher claims to have originated the laminated, accordion-fold map more than two decades ago. True or not, Streetwise maps are remarkable for their compact size, readable type and inclusion of smaller streets that often don’t make it onto the competition’s product. Clients won’t get a lot of bonus features here, but do they really need an airport diagram anyway? The payoff comes in an incredibly precise rendering of streets and points of interest, updated at least every 18 months by on-the-ground cartographers. $7.99.





National Geographic
Folding out to 18 by 24½ inches the venerable City Destination Map was the largest among our test sample but still fit comfortably into my back pocket. The bigger format allows for a larger scale (remember: large scale means closer to actual size) and bigger print that is kind to older eyes. The reverse side contains a nice description of must-see sights, phone numbers, transit map and small-scale regional maps. $8.99. 




Insight Guides
Who knew that so much info could be squeezed into a laminated map slender enough to slip into a pants pocket? The accordion-fold Day & Night maps are brimming with lists of places to go and things to do, helpful how-to info and day trips outside of town, all illustrated with thumbnail photos. This may be the perfect guide for travelers who don’t want to be burdened by a heavy guidebook. For others, there’s wasted space better devoted to a larger-scale map. (Even the first-time traveler probably knows that Italian is the main language in Rome and the currency in Las Vegas is the U.S. dollar.) $8.95.


InsideOut guide
The InsideOut Guide is the Ginzu knife of its field, jam-packed with features beyond those you’ll find in a typical map. The hard cover opens to reveal two, pop-out maps — a small-scale, city map on the left and a larger-scale map of a popular tourist area on the right. Tucked inside is a small guidebook with practical tourist info and descriptions of top attractions, shopping, restaurants and hotels. But wait — there’s more: a working compass and a tiny, slip-out pen, with space for note taking. $11.95.