Services & Software

12 totally awesome Google Maps

If you're looking for ways to waste some time, look no further than these 15 Google Maps. From barbershops to population density, we have it all.

I was looking through the Google Maps directory recently and found a variety of maps worth checking out. From up-to-date weather to barbershops, they should all be added to your list of Google Maps modules.

Barbershops: The map's description says "Barbershops are one of the last bastions of manliness today." And that's why the developer created a map providing locations to barbershops all over the U.S. Not every area is covered, but if you live in a major city, you'll find at least one or two barbershops to try out.

Google Maps
Best nightclubs in NYC. Don Reisinger/CNET

Best Nightclubs and Bars: If you want to find the best nighttime hangouts in major cities like New York; Scottsdale, Ariz.; or Las Vegas, the Best Nightclubs and Bars Map is for you. After picking an individual city to get a listing of hot spots, you should find all the places you're looking for. It would be nice if it supported more cities, though.

Chandra X-Ray Observatory: The Chandra X-Ray Observatory map gives you in-depth information about Harvard's Chandra X-Ray lab. It has dozens of markers around the world. Each time you click on a map marker, it explains exactly why the location is important to Chandra's operation. If you're interested in space and you want to learn more, this map is for you.

Current Air Quality: Those who have breathing problems will be happy to know that there is a Current Air Quality map that updates each hour with information gathered from government air quality sites. It only tracks the U.S., the U.K., and China, so if you live anywhere else, this probably won't do you much good. But I find it quite useful for where I live.

Distance measurement tool.
A cool Distance measurement tool. Don Reisinger/CNET

Distance Measurement Tool: Ever wanted to know what the distance is between Hoboken, N.J., and Tokyo? With the help of the Distance Measurement Tool, you can do just that. Simply click on one spot on the map, then click on another. The tool will show two markers and the distance.

Flickr Mapplet: It's not perfect, but the Flickr Mapplet is a neat addition to your Google Maps favorites. You can search for any kind of image. Once it finds photos that match your query, they will be indicated on the map with markers based on where the photographer claims the photos were taken. Once you click on the marker, you can view the pictures. Its search could be better, but it's still an interesting way to see photos.

Follow the Rainbow: If you want to go to Ireland, Follow the Rainbow is for you. It provides you with all the top spots for history, food, art, and music. When you click one of the markers (they're all color-coded, thus the "Rainbow" name), it tells you where it's located in the country, what it offers, and how to get there.

Google Real Estate Search: As someone who's currently looking to buy a home, the Google Real Estate Search map is an extremely helpful companion. It lets you search for properties that are in foreclosure, for sale, or for rent. You can search for any price range or location. Once you input your criteria, it displays a map with markers detailing the properties. It's a useful tool for any house hunter.

Median age of U.S. and Canada: If you're young and looking to move to a place where more people are closer to your age, the Median age of U.S. and Canada Map can help. It color-codes each state or province with a different shade of red. The darker the red, the higher the median age.

The Weather Channel
The weather map from The Weather Channel. Don Reisinger/CNET

The Weather Channel Interactive Weather Layers: If you want to see the temperature in your town or any other place across the U.S., the Weather Channel Interactive Weather Layers map will do it. You can also see a clouds map, check out the U.S. radar, and locate places like parks and stadiums. I was really impressed by the Weather Channel map. I think you will be, too.

World Oil Consumption: It seems that no matter where we turn, someone is talking about oil consumption. If you want to see how it's really impacting the globe, check out the World Oil Consumption map. It provides a color-coded display of how different countries around the world are consuming the resource. Not surprisingly, the U.S. and China lead the way.

World Population Density: If you're wondering where human population densities are highest, look no further than this map. It provides you with a legend to understand the different colors. Each of those colors represents a certain number of people living in the area. You can even zoom into your area to see where the most people live around town. It's a fascinating tool that will keep you engrossed for quite a while.

If you see a map here that you'd like to access frequently, you can add it to the "My Maps" section of Google Maps if you're logged in. Here's how: Click "Add it to Maps" for one of the modules in the Google Maps directory. You then can use that module by opening Google Maps, making sure you're logged in, then clicking the "My Maps" tab to the right of the "Get Directions" link. The page then will show maps you've created, the Google Maps modules you've added, and various items under "featured content."