I hate unfolding maps.  That’s where this Idea Bar post starts, because unfolding maps and trying to pinpoint your location is near impossible on those huge maps available from AAA or many others.  Google Maps and Mapquest are ideal solutions for turn by turn driving directions from one place to another, but they fall far short when it comes to exploring an area on foot or driving without a definite destination.  Throughout my travels in California last week, I found myself wishing for an easier online mapping solution that would allow me to get a single sheet printable map of a particular area.  The type of map that you usually find in tourism brochures, car rental offices or from a hotel concierge. One that fits on a standard sized sheet of paper, is easy to fold, and has information about the location of landmarks, hotels and restaurants noted.  One that is organized based on a region rather than a broad city or state. 

What if there were a site where you could download annotated micro-region maps like this of areas like Napa Valley, Old Town San Diego, or Santa Monica Beach?  What about for less common locales like Redondo Beach or La Jolla?  The ideal solution would be a mapping tool like Google Maps where a user could select a print area of a map (like you do in an excel document) and send it to the printer in a single page format that doesn’t result in a hazy JPEG image where street names are barely legible, but a high quality printout where even smaller streets are visible. This micro region map would not only be legible, but annotated with store names, hotels, and tourist attractions.  On a quick web search, I was only able to find an expensive software solution targeted at the real estate industry called Flashmaps which offered some of this functionality, but nothing targeted for consumers or general online use.  Maybe we need Apple to launch iMaps and charge $1.99 per custom created map.  Of course, then they would probably only work for a single printout if you signed up for an iTunes account and only used printers approved by Apple …

About the Idea Bar:
Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don’t fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. To view all "Idea Bar" posts on this blog, click here.