How to Find and Explore Local Places Using Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View allows users to explore places around the world through 360-degree panoramic street-level imagery. With Street View, you can virtually visit local businesses, landmarks and neighborhoods as if you were there in person. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to find and navigate local places of interest using Google Maps Street View.

Introduction to Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View provides interactive panoramas that allow users to explore places at street level. The feature was launched in 2007 in select cities in the US and has expanded to include imagery across over 100 countries and territories.

With Street View, it’s possible to:

  • Virtually explore and navigate local neighborhoods, landmarks and businesses.
  • View 360 degree panoramic imagery to get a feel for the location before visiting.
  • Locate specific addresses and pinpoint entryways or parking.
  • Discover places you may not have known about.
  • Familiarize yourself with an area you plan to visit.

Street View compiles panoramic photos captured by vehicles with mounted cameras driving along public roads, as well as by trekkers with special backpacks carrying cameras. The photos are then stitched together into seamless 360 degree images.

How to Access Street View in Google Maps

Accessing Street View imagery on Google Maps is quick and easy:

  1. Open Google Maps – Go to maps.google.com or open the Google Maps app.
  2. Search for a location – Enter an address, business name, city, landmark etc in the search bar.
  3. Find the Street View icon – Locate and click the small rectangular Street View icon in the top left corner of the info card that appears.
  4. Navigate Street View – Use your mouse, trackpad or finger to look around the 360 degree view. Click the directional arrows to move down the street.

Alternatively, you can simply double click anywhere on the map to automatically bring up Street View for that spot if available.

Discovering Local Places and Businesses

Street View makes it easy to search for and discover local businesses, landmarks, restaurants and more. Here are some tips:

  • Search a city, neighborhood or street – Use a generic search term like “Brooklyn, NY” or “Main Street, Anytown” to explore an entire area.
  • Search for a type of business – Try “pizza restaurants in Chicago” or “bookstores in Austin”.
  • Look for landmarks – Search for things like “Eiffel Tower” or “Golden Gate Bridge”.
  • Use Street View as a starting point – Open Street View for a location that interests you, then navigate around to uncover places.
  • Check hours, reviews and more – Click a pin then “View on Google Maps” to see details like opening hours, photos and reviews for a business.
  • Save places – Click the “Save” button on a place’s info card to add it to your Google Maps favorites.

Navigating Street View

Once you’ve found a location in Street View, you can easily navigate through the 360 panorama using your mouse or trackpad controls:

  • Click and drag – Click and hold the image, then move your mouse or swipe to rotate the view.
  • Directional arrows – Click the onscreen arrows to move down the street.
  • Zoom – Scroll to zoom in and out.
  • Full screen – Select the full screen button for an expanded view.
  • Return to map – Choose the “Back to Google Maps” link to exit Street View.

Other tips for navigating:

  • Look up and down to inspect building fronts and signage.
  • Turn around completely for a full 360 view.
  • Follow roads and paths to virtually walk or drive through an area.

Locating Specific Addresses and Destinations

Street View is excellent for zeroing in on exact destinations and pinpointing entryways:

  • Enter an address – Use the search bar to go directly to any address that has Street View available.
  • Use GPS locator – Select the “Find Me” button to show your current GPS location in Street View.
  • Look for landmarks – Rotate the view to find distinctive buildings, signs, etc to orient yourself.
  • Scan facade – Zoom in and inspect building facade and signage for additional context.
  • Check directions – Face the direction of your destination to visualize the exact route.
  • Find entryways – Rotate view and zoom to locate entrances to buildings, parks, transit stations, etc.
  • Spot parking – Scan nearby streets and lots to identify parking options.

Unique Uses for Exploring with Street View

Beyond just looking up addresses, Street View can be leveraged creatively to explore places in new ways:

  • Preview trips – Virtually walk your hotel, cruise port, hiking trail etc. before visiting.
  • Research family history – Find ancestral houses, old businesses and neighborhood landmarks.
  • Study abroad locations – Get to know university campuses and cities before studying overseas.
  • Scope out activities – Check out parks, trails, golf courses and more to plan your visit.
  • Virtual tourism – Take interactive tours of attractions like museums, monuments and music venues.
  • Apartment search – View building exterior, neighborhood and surrounding amenities when apartment hunting.
  • Home search – Look at the home exterior and neighborhood before buying.
  • Trace ancestry – Follow generations of family addresses and migration patterns.
  • Track development – Look back through the years at how areas have changed over time.

Key Features and Tools

Google Maps offers additional tools and Street View capabilities that make it easy to explore places virtually:

Timeline

Street View images are captured periodically, allowing you to look back at how a place appeared in the past. Use the timeline feature to view previous Street View imagery going back as far as 2007 in some locations.

Indoor Imagery

Some buildings like airports, malls and museums allow indoor photography, letting you view gate areas, stores, exhibits and more up close.

Geo locate Photos

The Geo locate tool tags your photos with Street View location data so you can revisit the exact view.

Measure Distance

Use the distance measurement tool to calculate distances along roads and paths. Helpful for runners, cyclists and virtual site visits.

Offline Areas

Download and save Street View imagery for areas you plan to visit offline. Then access it in Google Maps without an internet connection.

Embed Tours

Create customized Street View tours and embed them into websites and blogs to allow others to follow your virtual path.

Photo Paths

With photo paths, users contribute their own spherical imagery along hiking trails, bike paths and walking routes to share unique views.

Frequently Asked Questions About Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View provides an immersive way to virtually explore neighborhoods, businesses and landmarks. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the feature:

Is Street View available everywhere?

Street View provides 360 degree imagery for most locations around the world, but coverage is not universal. Remote wilderness areas and certain private roads may not be mapped. Gaps are steadily filled as Google continues mapping efforts.

Does Street View show real time or live views?

No, Street View does not show live imagery. The panoramas are constructed from photos captured by Google at various points in time, so a location may look different in real life if there have been changes since the photos were taken.

Can someone blur or remove their home?

Yes, Google provides a process for requesting your property be blurred or removed. Look for the “Report a problem” link when viewing your home in Street View.

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Is it possible to update the Street View for my business?

Businesses cannot request Street View be updated on demand, but Google works to regularly refresh imagery. You can request reminder emails for when they next plan to photograph your business area.

Can I use Street View images on my website?

Street View imagery is copyrighted by Google and cannot be used commercially without permission. Google licenses Street View for limited use through its Street View API.

Is there audio on Street View?

While the imagery is visual only, Google does capture Street View car audio for purposes like detecting traffic signs. This audio is not linked to the imagery and is not audible to users.

Can I see inside businesses and homes?

Street View provides only exterior panoramic views along public streets. Google does not provide indoor views of private homes or business interiors without special permission. Some public interior spaces like airports may have indoor imagery.

Does Google blur faces and license plates?

Yes, Google automatically blurs faces and license plates that appear in Street View imagery to protect privacy. In some historical imagery these were not initially blurred but Google works to redact them.

Conclusion

Google Maps Street View grants an exciting way to virtually explore, discover and orient yourself to places from the comfort of your home. Whether researching destinations, finding local businesses or just browsing aimlessly, Street View facilitates visual-based discovery and learning about not just your own neighborhood but anywhere Google cameras have mapped. With Street View integrated right into Google Maps, these interactive panoramas are easily accessible. So open Google Maps and start virtually traversing the globe today.

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