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Google Maps is not only one of the company’s best products, it’s one of the best products in the internet age in general. Maps has tons of features you might not be familiar with. We’ll share some of the best.

Find Alternate Bike Routes

Select a route.

Google Maps is not just for cars and public transit. You can find bike routes in your area as well. Bike routes are made from public trails and bike lanes on roads. That’s only part of it, though.

In July 2022, Google Maps gained the ability to find alternate bike routes, just like you can with driving directions. It’s easy to see the different ways you can get around on your bike.

RELATED: How to See Bike Routes in Google Maps

Check Gas Prices

Gas prices on Google Maps mobile.

Gas prices are something you probably pay attention to when traveling. How can you know where the best prices are? Google Maps actually shows gas prices right on the map.

All you have to do is search for “gas near me.” The nearby gas stations will appear and you can simply zoom in to see the prices. Selecting a gas station will show the prices of all the fule grades. It’s super handy.

RELATED: How to Find the Cheapest Gas With Google Maps

Avoid Highways

Enable "Avoid Highways" and tap "Done."

Highways are often the fastest and most direct way to travel, but sometimes you may want to avoid them. There’s a simple option in Google Maps for avoiding highways (and toll roads). Once the option is enabled, Google will find a route for you that avoids these roads. It’s much easier than trying to do it yourself.

RELATED: How to Avoid Highways on Google Maps

Send Directions to Your Phone

Sometimes it’s better to plan your trip in Google Maps in a desktop browser. You can see a lot more on the map and research locations in other tabs easier. When you’re done, you can send the directions to your phone. There’s a button on Google Maps to “Send to Your Phone.” It brings up a list of devices attached to your Google account.

RELATED: How to Send Directions From Google Maps on Desktop to Your Phone

Add Missing Roads and Places

Draw the road and select "Review & Submit."

Google Maps is great, but it’s not perfect. You’ve probably run into missing roads or places in your travels. It can take a while for new construction and changes to appear sometimes. You can help by adding missing roads and places yourself.

Of course, your additions won’t be immediately accepted. Google reviews all submissions for missing roads and places. The more people that submit missing locations, the more likely they are to show up quickly.

RELATED: How to Draw Missing Roads on Google Maps

See Walking Directions in 3D

Google Maps AR walking directions.

Walking directions can sometimes be annoying in Google Maps. The slow pace of walking makes it difficult to quickly show the direction you’re walking. That’s where 3D walking directions come in.

The 3D walking directions use your camera and augmented reality to put arrows and paths in the “real world.” You can simply look through the camera to see where you need to walk.

RELATED: How to See 3D Walking Directions in Google Maps

Customize Your Car Icon

You don’t have to use the boring blue triangle for Google Maps navigation—even if it does have a cool origin story. The little icon that shows your position on the road can be a car, SUV, or truck. Sadly, you can’t customize the color, but a cute vehicle is a fun touch.

RELATED: How to Change Your Car Icon in Google Maps

Track Movement of Wildfires

Google Maps with fire spots on Android and iPhone

Wildfires are a real and dangerous threat in some parts of the U.S. Google Maps uses data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES satellites to show wildfire movement directly on the map.

It starts by Googling for the fire’s name, which will display an information car for Google Maps. Once in Google Maps, you can see outlines of the wildfire area. The movement is updated every hour or so.

RELATED: How to Track Movement of Wildfires on Google Maps

Create Your Own Custom Maps

Add a name and description for your custom Google Maps map, then press Save

Google Maps can also be used as your own custom mapping tool. It’s possible to create custom maps that can be shared with friends. Maybe you’re planning a scavenger hunt or a road trip with a bunch of stops. These maps are not published to the public Map, they’re only for you and anyone you share them with.

RELATED: How to Create a Custom Map in Google Maps

Check If a Store is Busy

Google Maps showing how busy a store is right now in the mobile app.

It’s no mystery that stores and restaurants have certain times of day that are busier than others, but how can you know? Thankfully, Google Maps compiles information about busy times and displays it on the location information card.

This data is gathered from people who have Location History enabled in their Google accounts. It’s not always 100% accurate, but it’s a good way to get a general idea of how busy the place will be.

RELATED: How to See How Busy a Store Is Right Now with Google Maps

Google Maps is one of those products that many people have come to rely on every day. It has made a very real difference in how people navigate around the world. Make sure you’re using all the best features!

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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