Whether you’d rather dive into shark-filled waters off the coast of Fiji or hover above the frigid Mirny Airport in Siberia, Google Earth’s new Voyager feature will get you there in an instant — and keep you distracted for hours.
Google revealed a number of new tools Wednesday to help users navigate the virtual globe; a tool called “Voyager” offers a menu of thematic tours, while new “knowledge cards” provide factoids about sites and scenes throughout the world. Upgraded imagery makes flying over the Andes or island hopping at the Mili Atoll more realistic and stunning than ever.
Google’s editors recommended a few of their favorite routes. Land Art from Above lets users jump from one massive sculpture to another — from Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty in Utah; to the Hartland County Corn Maze in Harrisburg, South Dakota; then on to Northumberlandia, a giant female nude reclining across the English countryside.
Other tours take you barhopping to the favorite water holes of Ernest Hemingway; diving into Indonesian waters; or exploring the sights and avenues of cities such as New York, Tokyo and Paris. A tour of the Grand Canyon conveniently drops users off at the park’s visitor center; from there you can click on the most popular vistas and enter Google’s street view from the cliff’s edge.
The tools are easy to navigate, and the options are diverse — there are even a few routes designed for parents to explore with their kids.
There’s something for everyone, but a few stood out as favorites:
Ultradistancia is an art project by Argentinian photographer Federico Winer, who spends hours scouring Google Earth for uncanny patterns, enhances the images and turns them into high-resolution prints. In this series, he discovers surprisingly mesmerizing bird’s-eye views of airports across the globe.
Wonders of the Ancient and Modern World lets you wander across the ruins of Pompei, then fly to Antarctica and land square in the kitchen of Scott’s Hut — cabin frozen in time with relics of the explorers from Robert Falcon Scott’s fatal expedition to the South Pole around the turn of the 20th century.
Amazing Urban Gardens explores a vertical forest in Italy; sprawling manicured grounds of Curitiba, Brazil; the 143-acre Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Japan; and the modern greenhouses of Singapore known as the Garden by the Bay.