Google Maps recently made news when it released a Street View version of the Grand Canyon featuring several of the popular trails for your virtual viewing pleasure. But the Grand Canyon isn't the only one in the mix. Google Maps has created street view collections of locations all over the world, from the Swiss Alps and UNESCO World Heritage sites to Thailand and more. The entire collection can be viewed here, or you can follow the links from each gallery to the actual Google Maps page. Some maps even feature embedded photos from Picasa users. Here are four of the coolest places you can tour from your laptop (including the Grand Canyon), courtesy of Google Maps. How's that for armchair traveling?
Alp Spinas: Rhaetian Railway, Bernina-Albula, Switzerland
Follow a train track through the dappled foliage and snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps in this magnificent collection of photos. Click ahead of you on the track and you almost feel the steel mass propelling you forward. Drag your cursor left and right to enjoy panoramic views of the mountainsides.
The Colosseum: Rome, Italy
View the Colosseum 360 degrees around with this photo tour. Use your cursor to explore various nooks and crannies (and the occasional tourist). Click on the View Larger Map link in the bottom right-hand corner to access embedded user photos
Top of 7th Heaven: Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
It's ski season and for those snow bunnies who might be relegated to the East Coast's smaller peaks, here's a little virtual vacation for you, up on the slopes of Whistler Mountain. The Ski Resorts and Slopes collection at Google Maps offers several different street views of Whistler, but our favorite is Top of 7th Heaven, a stunning panorama of the surrounding range in gorgeous slates and snowy white. We're swooshing in spirit.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, United States
The Bright Angel Trail starts you off at the Grand Canyon Village and continues on to show stunning vistas as you descend more than 4,000 feet to the Colorado River. Get close enough to see rock and plant details and far back enough to see gorgeous landscapes like the view from the South Kaibab Trail. The last in the series is the amazing Meteor Crater.
Google Maps screen grabs courtesy of Google Maps