The best iPhone travel apps of 2011

by Dan Kricke

Some of my favorite apps on the iPhone fall under the “Travel” category. I’m not a glutton for booking trips, rather iTunes uses that wide-ranging term to encompass everything from trip-booking apps, to grand reference guides for cities and parks, to collections of the best cuisines in certain areas. If variety is truly the spice of life, as many people claim to have once said, then travel apps are the spiciest app category. Here are five of my favorites from 2011.

Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder (Free)

An app ideal for the would-be camper that doesn’t know where to start, Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder is a massive app that has information on thousands of different public lands including state and national parks, national forests and even US Army Corps of Engineers recreation centers.

If you’re looking for something specific to do while you camp, you can search for the nearest ones that support 20 activities including caving, climbing, fishing, golfing and boating. Even if you already think you have the best camp site mapped out, Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder might be worth a look to see if there is a better one out there.

Best Of… (Free)

Suppose you go on a trip. Of course, you don’t want any old meal, you want the best your temporary home has to offer. Best Of… packs that and a lot more into its inviting layout. Supported in over 30 major US cities, Best Of… tells you more than 10,000 of the best things to do in a given place.

From the best burger to the best use of bacon, your every curiosity will be piqued. You can also vote on whether you agree something truly is one of the best things and even keep tabs on places you’d like to try but haven’t yet.

Expedia Hotels (Free)

The strangest thing about Expedia Hotels is that it took so long to come to an iPhone. Other than that, the app is a lean, mean hotel booking machine. You can book a room in over 130,000 hotels spread across 20,000 cities worldwide in just a handful of screen taps.

It’s incredibly easy to find the best deal and the number of sort options combined with solid user reviews means you’ll rarely be led astray for your stay. You can even find directions to any hotel you’re looking at via a Google Maps screen. If you’re booking a hotel, this is the app with which to do it.

Where To Eat? – Free – GPS Restaurant Finder (Free)

Sometimes when you’re in a strange new place, you just need somewhere relatively close by that won’t make you sick. Where To Eat? will find something better than that for you, but it does a great job keeping geography in mind. With over 45 cuisines and 30 food types, you’ll have quite the choice of selections, too.

Where To Eat? will even supply turn-by-turn directions for you to get to the restaurant you end up choosing. That’s a great feature for travelers in an unfamiliar town. And if you can’t decide what to eat at all, a quick shake of the app and Where To Eat? will find something for you in a hurry.

RoadAhead (Free)

Road trips can be a blast, especially when you start exploring the little-known places off the sides of small town exits. RoadAhead attempts to help you out even further on your journey by giving you all the info you can use on the upcoming exits on your trip. It will calculate where you are and tell you pertinent info on the next exit, including the price of gas and what sort of shops and restaurants are nearby.

RoadAhead covers every exit on all highways in the US and you can also use it when you’re not on the highway by entering the road and nearby exits you’ll be passing by. You can also search by category, in case you want to scope out the cheapest gas at the next three exits.

Love travel apps? Create your very own list here.