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Site Seeing: 30 Essential Resources on the Internet

Times Staff Writer

We've opened our bag of Internet tricks and pulled out 30 sites that savvy travelers may find handy now--or may pack away for future reference. Some make vacation planning easier. Others make traveling safer. And still others are simply tools for having a good time on the road.

The list isn't all-encompassing but a sample of favorites suggested by the Travel section's writers and editors.

In no particular order:

Airport codes: http://www.faa.gov/aircodeinfo.htm. This page, part of the Federal Aviation Administration site, lists the three-letter codes for U.S. and international airports, helpful when you're looking at flights online. The home page, http://www.faa.gov, is the jumping-off point for security tips, on-time statistics for airlines, instructions for reporting safety violations and more.

Weather: http://www.weather.com, http://www.accuweather.com or http://www.intellicast.com. Look at forecasts, annual temperature and rainfall averages, and other meteorological information for your destination.

Maps: http://www.mapquest.com or http://www.mapsonus.com. Road maps, driving directions and other navigational tools for U.S., Canada and Western European destinations.

More maps: http://plasma.nationalgeographic.com. World maps of all sorts: road, political, climate, historical. Plus a peek at Mars.

ZIP Codes: http://www.usps.com/ncsc/lookups/lookup_zip+4.html. Type in a street address and you'll get the ZIP (see next item).

Distances: http://www.link-usa.com/zipcode or http://www.indo.com/distance. The first site calculates the distance between ZIP Codes (and also is a ZIP Code directory). The second calculates the distance between cities.

Traffic: http://traffic.tann.net/Frame05.html or http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo. The first site offers maps showing congested freeways and roads in Southern California. The second site allows users to punch in a highway number (10, 405 etc.) to see Caltrans reports of car accidents, bad weather and other potential hazards.

Outdoors: http://www.gorp.com. Destinations, activities, gear and more.

National parks: http://www.nps.gov. Official site of the National Park Service. Click on "Visit Your Parks" for links to national parks, monuments, historic sites and other treasures.

State parks: http://cal-parks.ca.gov. California State Parks home page. Click on "Find A Park" for links to state parks, beaches, recreation areas and other sites.

State facts and figures: http://50states.com. Can't remember California's official motto, the Texas state flower or Florida's most populous city? This site provides answers galore ("Eureka," the bluebonnet and Jacksonville, respectively) plus practical links to local organizations and civic institutions.

Restaurants: http://www.zagat.com. Online version of the popular Zagat restaurant surveys. Pick a city in the upper left corner, then sort restaurants by neighborhood, cuisine or other categories such as "Most Popular" or "Top Food."

Currency: http://www.oanda.com. How many euros or yen to the dollar? Use the Quick Converter in the upper left corner, or click on "Full Currency Converter."

Conversion calculator: http://www.onlineconversion.com. Translate kilometers into miles, change Celsius into Fahrenheit or perform dozens of other conversions.

Time zones: http://www.timeanddate.com or http://www.times.clari.net.au. Find the local time anywhere in the world.

Country primer: http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook. The CIA's encyclopedic World Factbook lists minutiae about every country, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

World travel warnings: http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html. The State Department's official list of travel warnings, consular information sheets and public announcements.

Language translator: http://babelfish.altavista.com/translate.dyn. How do you tell your Oaxacan waiter, "No grasshoppers on my pizza, please"? Log on here to find out.

Dialing codes: http://kropla.com/dialcode.htm. Get the 411 on how to call other countries.

Tourism bureaus: http://www.towd.com. Find the addresses, phone numbers and Internet URLs for state and international government tourism offices.

More travel sites: http://www.nettravel.com. More Web links compiled by Michael Shapiro, past contributor to The Times' Travel section and author of "Internet Travel Planner" (Globe Pequot, 2000).

Even more sites: http://www.johnnyjet.com. Still hungry? Here's another helping of travel-related Web links.

Sourcebook: http://www.latimes.com/travel/sourcebook. The online home of this list and the rest of our annual travel directory.

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