imageMSN just launched a new version of their local offering dubbed, MSN City Guides (read the press release). Okay, just another local listing site with maps, right? Oh, no…this one is the beginning of something pretty great and very community driven and it has Microsoft Virtual Earth. Fine, I’m skewed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a shiny new toy. I set my location to Louisville, KY – I’m heading out there this week for the Pendleton Golf Invitational – a little view into my world for you. Anyway, by default, Louisville, KY is now my home location so when I return to City Guides it automagically suggests results related to Louisville. Now, let’s explore the feature set….

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I did a search for “Covered Bridge” near Louisville, KY. Covered Bridge is Fuzzy Zoeller’s course and it’s actually in Indiana. Anyway, my search produced a few results one of which was “Covered Bridge Golf Course.” Nice. I click it and get a results page with a Virtual Earth map and a pin that contains additional information in the roll over. But you know, that’s pretty basic stuff.

imageNow, you should know that whenever I go back to Louisville (yes, I frequent it) I hit White Castle, so let’s do that. I’m going to get a plethora of White Castle listings, so more importantly I want to see where they are in respect to where I’m staying…no, I won’t let you that far into my life! By default a list view is provided to show all the listings around the specific area; however, there’s also a “Map View” button you can click and throw all of the listings onto a Virtual Earth map. Wohoo!. As you hover over each location, you can see additional information about that location such as the contact information and pictures of the location; but, even better you can add it to your travel diary (of sorts). You can “Plan To Go” there which will add it to your collection of places you want to go; or, you can say you’ve already “Been There” which adds it to a collection of places you’ve already been. Also, if you have been there, you can “Review It” and provide information about your experience; or, you can “Upload a Photo” which is funny because when I first started traveling I would always take a picture of where I ate. I should dig those up. You can also “Invite a Friend” to join you at the respective location in the case that they also want a 6 pack of White Castle Burgers and a Big Red. Mmmm. One nice touch of the site was as you hover over the listings on the left, it will re-center the map for you. Of course, Aerial and Road map styles are available, as well as 3D.

So, go explore, try it out, write some reviews and eat White Castle.

CP