How to Find a Map Online

A woman using a map on the web browser of her smartphone as she navigates through a city.

 Getty Images

Need a map? How about driving directions, an atlas, help with planning a walking route, or an auction close to you? In this article, we'll take a look at a few different ways you can find a map online.

national geographic maps

National Geographic Maps offers the reader a gigantic collection of all the National Geographic maps in a searchable online database. There is so much to the maps that National Geographic offers that it's best to look at it piece by piece. Start with the categories to get a big picture view of all that National Geographic map search has to offer. There's a lot here, and it's all searchable: world maps, satellite maps of Mars, Globe Explorer aerial imagery, and much, much more. Featured Maps are on the home page, along with a link to the National Geographic map store. 

Layers

Informational layers on each map that you find (this could include roads, place names, political/cultural boundaries, etc.) can be turned on or off according to your personal preference. Every map has its own set of custom tools that you can use to tweak the map to your exact specifications.

Quick Search

Use the Quick Map Search engine tool to find a place (city, country, region continent, US zip codes, etc.), browse antique maps, find country facts, and look at literally almost every mappable place on Earth. The small QuickMapSearch box is on every single page of the National Geographic maps and geography section, and you can use this search to search within map categories (of which there are quite a few), as well as save your map searches, a nice feature.

Printer-Friendly

Get printer friendly maps for personal or classroom use. Includes every continent, a world map view, the Middle East region, and more. Decide which level of detail you'd like to include and then you can click on the link at the bottom to view either a .gif or .pdf file.

Interactive

National Geographic's country profiles offer an interactive map of the world. Just click on any region you'd like to explore and you'll see detailed links for every country in that particular region. Individual country profiles include information about the population, an atlas plate, a printable outline map, and the CIA World Factbook entry. Good stuff here that's perfect for anyone doing needing research information.

Local Directions

The National Geographic US Street Map is an interactive (you can zoom in and out) map of United States roads and highways.

Use the map tools to click and drag a particular search area, use the QuickMapSearch box to search within the US Streets map, or customize your map: enter text into the box marked "customize map" and then click on the map to place a text marker.

US and International Maps Online

An image of a globe showing US and International locations.

 Getty Images

Whether you're planning a road trip or just want to practice your geography skills, there are plenty of great online maps on the Web. 

United States Maps

  • Maps of the Americas: This is one of the most interesting sites on the Web today, from the University of Texas at Austin. Includes maps not only of the United States but everywhere in the world.​
  • Roadside America: Plan a trip with some good stuff to see along the way with the Roadside America planning tools.​
  • National Atlas: Use this Map Maker to make your own layered map of the United States.​
  • MultiMap: Extremely detailed maps of the US.

Maps for Road Trips

  • StreetMap: a map maker for the UK.​
  • Mappy.com: Another one primarily for Europe; plan an itinerary or get detailed maps of an area.​
  • RoutePlanner: Search for points of interest in the UK and plan your route accordingly.​
  • Free Highway Travel Guides: Tons of free travel maps available here for printing.

World Maps

World Time Zone Maps

A screenshot of a world time zone map from timezonecheck.com.
Screenshot, TimeZoneCheck.com.

Find out what time it is in every time zone in the world with the help of the World Wide Web. Here are a few links that can help you:

  • The World Clock-Time Zones: sorted by city names; find current local times in time zones all around the world.​
  • Greenwich Mean Time in Every Time Zone: find out the exact time in every time zone all over the world. Includes a button to resynchronize the clock to Greenwich Mean Time.​
  • WorldTimeZone: get the current times in every time zone with an interactive map.​
  • TimeZoneCheck: another interactive map for time zones; however, you can sign up to have this one on your site (they're just gauging interest at the time of this writing).​
  • gChart: click anywhere on the map to find out what the local time is there; includes a video map, blog map, currency map, and more.
A screenshot of the Google Maps website,

Along with Google Maps, here are many maps built on the Google Maps platform. 

A screenshot of the Mapquest.com website.

One of the most useful sites on the Web is Mapquest, a great place to get driving directions, plan a road trip, and more. This is one of the oldest continuously running map sites on the Web, with tons of useful features - including walking directions, atlases, and much more. 

Local Search

Three young women sitting on steps using a local map to find attractions.
 

Some of the most interesting sites and search engines making their debuts today are those that are focused on local search, whether that be local real estate, local weather, or local news. Here are just a few of the local search sites that I've come across lately:

  • Craigslist: One of the best ways to find items for sale in your local area. ​
  • Trulia: Trulia is a local real estate search engine that helps consumers search for homes for sale, trends, neighborhood insights and other real estate information directly from hundreds of thousands of real estate broker Web sites.​
  • Backfence.com: Backfence captures community knowledge and makes it available to all—information you can’t get anywhere else.​
  • Freecycle: The Freecycle network is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. This is a great example of "one man's trash is another man's treasure."