Google Maps for Roadtripping, Fast Food, Art and More

Creative developers are always building new online maps with Google Maps. Here are a few that shouldn't be missed.

The Google Maps API is always being used in new ways by clever developers, and a sampling of recent examples offers visitors everything from mapping out their next road trip to finding fast food and public art on the run.

Plan Your Next Road Trip Online

When you find it's time to hit the road and see some new scenery, aim your Web browser at the Roadtrippers Website, where visitors can create their own personalized road trip planner. It features things to do, places to see and cool spots to visit.

"Roadtrippers bills itself as a 'simple and intuitive road trip planner that helps you discover, plan and book the best places and experiences along your way, curated by local experts and travel writers' and their approach sure works," Mano Marks, of the Google Maps developer relations team, wrote in a Feb. 28 post on the Google Geo Developers Blog. "Roadtrippers lets you build itineraries within the U.S. through a simple map interface, and store them on their site."

Roadtrippers does this by taking advantage of many features included in the Google Maps API, such as the autocomplete feature of the Places Library and the Directions Service that allows users to create trips with multiple destinations. Visitors can also calculate gas mileage and driving time on the site.

Finding Fast Food Made Easier

Now you can find fast food restaurants wherever you are using the Google maps-enabled fast food finder from Combo7.

Visitors can enter the name of a city or town, or a zip code, and the guide will bring up a Google Maps displaying many of the major fast food chains in the area. The map brings up the logos for the chain restaurants, which can then be clicked to get their addresses and sometimes their phone numbers.

One shortcoming with the site is that it just shows large, well-known chain restaurants, such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Panera Bread, Subway, KFC and Burger King. What's not shown are the local, independent fast food joints, such as pizza and sub shops that might also be in the neighborhood you are searching.

But what if you can't decide exactly what you are hungry for?

Then just click the "pick for me" button on the map and the site will "choose" a fast food chain for you.

Fast food without thinking for yourself. What will they think of next?

Find Yourself Some Free WiFi

Certainly, you have found yourself wandering a city with your mobile device and wondering where you could find free WiFi to get some work done or catch up on some emails.

That's where the free WiFi finder from can be helpful. With this service, visitors can type in a location and go to a large-scale map to see all the free WiFi options that might be nearby. Users can then zoom in to find specific locations that then have to be sorted to determine if they are public or private WiFi networks.

Not all of what shows up appears to be public WiFi, but it is a good place to start. One other drawback is that the site isn't very intuitive, but it's relatively easy to figure out once you spend a few minutes with it.