MapQuest has been around longer than most map sites, and over the years it has continued to add more functionality and features to its service. The company’s online maps can be used for a variety of purposes, including driving directions, travel research and even finding the best gas prices.

This online map site integrates actual photography, satellite imagery and digital street maps. It even provides alternate views of many locations, including a 360-degree street-level views of major intersections near mapped locations. Since it has international maps from across the world and the ability to interface with handheld devices, MapQuest is a great resource for travelers.

The MapQuest website has a fairly simple layout, so even those unfamiliar with online maps can quickly find the proper links to start searching. When you need a map of somewhere in the U.S., you simply use the search form at the top of the page. You must fill in either a city and state or a zip code to perform a search. If the site returns multiple results, you need to select one location to display your map.

The various features of the MapQuest engine are listed along the top of the page. Along the top right of your map, there is a legend with a variety of layers you can choose to display. For example, if you want to view all of the grocery stores or cafes in the area, you simply click on the corresponding icon.

After you call up a map, you can add markers, as well as search for nearby businesses and points of interest. If you don’t know the entire address of your location, you can map an entire city or country, and the default map marker appears in the center. From there, you can zoom and click on areas to choose a more specific marker location.

When you search for driving directions, your results appear both in map form and in turn-by-turn list. Beside each step in the directions list, and you can click “avoid” to find an alternative to that portion of your route. You also have the option to change your route entirely. In addition, for each point on your map you can select “zoom to street” to automatically zoom in. If you want to access maps outside the U.S. for driving directions, you can search by the country or city and country.

When you search for directions, you must have an exact address for the map to show a specific location; otherwise, the map marker appears in the center of the location you input. For example, if you request directions to France in general, the marker will appear in the middle of the country. If you want to navigate from one point to another, for example from a train station in Paris to the Eiffel Tower, you simply type the name into the search bar and select the correct location when it appears.

MapQuest is configured to transfer your maps to your smartphone. Simply click on one of the send options to text directions to your phone.

MapQuest is designed to be easy to use for people of any experience level. Even if you don’t have exact addresses, you can search for your destination. Finding directions in the U.S. and internationally is equally easy. While the 360-degree views are a neat addition to the site, the photographs are not updated very often and may be several years old, which is standard for online maps. Satellite images may also be out of date.

MapQuest has an online user’s manual and a section of FAQs to help new users find the features they need. The MapQuest blog highlights new and unique features and describes how to use them. Many of the articles concern mobile device applications, as iPhone and Android apps now play a large role in the average person’s navigation. As the technology develops further, MapQuest plans to stay current and allow its service to integrate with the latest technology. If you notice a problem with the website or need to contact an administrator, there is an online contact form.

MapQuest is a good choice for online maps because of its many features and its user-friendly interface. It is a useful tool for getting local driving directions or planning trips within the U.S., and it can even provide information about traffic and construction to help you choose the best route.