One of the things about Google Maps that I never cared for was that the route it gives you when you ask directions isn’t always the route I want to go. So I’d usually use it along with a couple of other resources to plan a trip.
I just discovered a new trick though; you can now customize your route (caution: cheezy intro video). Add as many stops or side trips to your route trip as you like by clicking on the path, or click & drag the path to take a different route altogether. After you modify your route, the total distance and estimated driving time is updated — the system is apparently smart enough to take into account slower speeds on secondary highways and having to slow down in smaller towns; the shorter route isn’t always the fastest. But neither is the more interesting route.
Very neat feature. Very intuitive and functional. Why can’t all software be that slick?