Author Archives: Holly Day

Google Maps: your holiday sidekick

The holiday season is starting—which means time with friends, family, and lots of food. And though festivities may be a bit different this year, there are still creative, safe ways to celebrate and stay connected. No matter what you have in store for the holidays, these Google Maps tips can help you stay informed, stay connected and save time.

Stay informed even while running holiday errands and traveling

1. Check out how busy a place is:Popular times and live busyness information can tell you how crowded a place typically is on a given day or time—and even how busy it is right now. This is especially handy during the era of social distancing: Check out busyness on Maps before you head to a restaurant, store, business, or place to avoid holiday crowds and long waits.

2. (New!) Find the latest information about COVID-19: If you’re thinking about heading out of town to another city or state, you can use the COVID layer on Maps to quickly see how cases are trending in the area. You can also access quick links to authoritative local resources so you know at a glance if there are specific guidelines or restrictions in the area you’re visiting. 

3. Quickly understand safety precautions from a business: If you're eating out or getting a head start on your holiday shopping, you can easily learn more about what safety precautions a business is taking. Find out if they’re sanitizing between customers, if there's safety dividers at checkout and if they require staff to have regular temperature checks.

If you need to, connect safely

4. Share your ETA:If you need to see loved ones, let them know when they can expect you to arrive with you just a few taps. 

5. Don’t get lost: Planning to meet up with friends outdoors and at a distance? When a friend has chosen to share their location with you, you can easily tap on their icon and then on Live View to see where and how far away they are—with overlaid arrows and directions that help you know where to go.

Save time so you can spend more time enjoying the festivities 

6. (New!) Get more done on drives:If you’re road tripping home, using voice with Google Assistant driving mode in Maps helps make the ride more convenient and enjoyable while keeping your focus on the road. Starting to roll out today as a preview, Android users in the U.S. can now get call alerts from Assistant, answer or decline calls by simply using their voice, quickly review incoming messages across apps in one place, and play podcasts and songs from hundreds of media providers—all without leaving the navigation screen. 

7. (New!) Don’t let your food get cold: If you’re taking a low-key approach to the holidays this year and opting to order in instead of cooking an elaborate meal, Google Maps can help. When searching on your phone for restaurants nearby, you can easily sort by places that offer takeout or delivery and place your order directly from Google Maps. Now you can also see exactly when your order will be delivered or ready to pick up on the app’s home screen—because nobody likes cold turkey!

8. Search along your route:  If you’re on the road and realize you need to make a stop—say you’re running low on gas or need to pick up a last-minute item from the market—use Google Maps to search for gas stations, grocery stores, or other places along your drive so you can tackle your tasks without going too far out of your way. 

Source: Google LatLong


Br(rr)ing on the holiday trends from Google Maps

This holiday, family gatherings will be smaller or take place virtually to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. Indoor activities will move outdoors. And that international holiday vacation will potentially transform into an epic road trip to nearby attractions as you stop to sightsee at local hidden gems along the way. But even still, people are prepping to make classic holiday dishes, looking for ways to experience winter and finding new, safe ways to be together.

We’ve analyzed Google Maps data before and during the pandemic (for the purposes of this post, we analyzed data from March to October 2020) to see how people across the U.S. are getting ready for the holidays. Read on for top trends on how people are navigating, how they’re spending their time and what type of food they’re craving.

Dashing through the snow, in a 🚗 or 🚴‍♀️ or 🚇

Across the country, Americans are opting for solo ways to get around safely. Unsurprisingly, driving continues to be the most popular mode of transportation, while interest in riding transit appears to be down by more than 50 percent. Cycling has emerged as a transit alternative–interest in cycling has increased 30 percent nationwide compared to pre-pandemic days, which is even higher than typical seasonal changes. Across all modes of transportation, we’re seeing people get directions to fewer new places, likely in an effort to social distance by sticking to tried and true spots versus exploring new places.

At the local level, transportation patterns are shifting:

  • While New Yorkers typically embrace public transit and Angelenos defer to driving–both cities have seen interest in driving increase by over 10 percent since the start of COVID. 

  • Cycling is up across the board, both in the East and the West. Cities with the biggest shift in cycling increases include Denver (+200 percent), Minneapolis (+150 percent), New York (+72 percent), Seattle (+65 percent) and Portland, OR. (+57 percent).

Google Maps Trends: Transportation

Social distancing in a winter wonderland ❄️


Popular times and live busyness information in Google Maps have always been essential holiday tools, helping you avoid unwanted crowds. These tools help you know in advance when places are going to be busy so you can save precious time and also social distance.

So if you find yourself in need of a caffeine fix to tackle your holiday errands, make sure to avoid picking up coffee on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. when coffee shops across America tend to be most packed. And if you’re planning to shop for a holiday meal, stay away from the grocery store on Saturday afternoons between 1-3 p.m. when you’re likely to encounter long lines.

Google Maps Trends: Popular Times

Chestnuts (or turkey or stuffing) roasting on an open fire 🦃 

In the spring, Americans were optimistic about cooking at home–searches for “easy recipes” were at an all-time high. But as we approach the holiday season (and dishwashing fatigue sets in), people seem to want to order in. Interest in “takeout” on Maps has gained popularity by 306 percent compared to the beginning of the pandemic, and restaurant reservations booked directly on Maps have spiked more than 200 percent–likely because more restaurants are requiring them as they work to maintain safe capacity levels.

As for what people are eating, Mexican, Chinese, and BBQ are the most-searched cuisines across the country, and we’re seeing local noodle wars and more:

  • Seattlites and Denverites are pho lovers! Both cities have searched for “pho” twice as much as they’ve searched for “ramen.”

  • In Philadelphia, interest in “cheesesteak” has decreased by nearly 40 percent compared to early this year—suggesting that locals are expanding their food horizons or that tourists were the ones searching for this Philly classic.

  • Portlanders and New Yorkers are craving Thai. In both cities, interest in Thai food is up more than 100 percent compared to earlier in the year.

Google Maps Trends: Activity and Food

Spend time outdoors and deck the halls 🎄

From coast to coast, people are using Google Maps to have fun safely outdoors, searching for parks, waterfalls, beaches and gardens within driving distance. As the weather cools, searches for outdoor locations continue to remain higher than pre-pandemic. Even traditionally outdoorsy cities like Seattle (+56 percent), Los Angeles (+31 percent), and Denver (+135 percent) are looking for outdoor spots more than they were earlier this year.

When they’re not heading outside, people are sprucing up their homes. Searches for home and garden stores are increasing all around the country, with the highest spikes happening in Chicago (+77 percent), Detroit (+86 percent) and Cleveland (+96 percent).

No matter how you plan to spend the holidays, Google Maps is here to help you knock out your to-do list. Check out our favorite tips to keep your holidays as stress free as possible while staying safe, connected and organized.

Source: Google LatLong