Ask MetaFilter is a question and answer site that covers nearly any question on earth, where members help each other solve problems. Ask MetaFilter is where thousands of life's little questions are answered. I took a GIS class and my instructor said that she used Illustrator to clean up her ugly-looking maps from the GIS software (she does maps/data presentation for the NYT), although we never got to that, but i'm pretty sure it can be exported from something like ArcView or ArcGIS (which, i should say, also allow you to play with colors, typeface, and labels to a large degree). Maybe someone who knows a little more can tell you specifically how to do this. , specifically in the 'Digital Line Graphic - Roads' column. But you can't really open that in Illustrator, and you can't open it directly in is in general a cool project to create good, freely distributable maps. The maps are based on Tiger/line data from the U.S. census so they are fairly decent (though not perfect) to start with. You can edit roads/features in your own area to fix all those pesky mistakes and outdated information. I did this for a several mile radius of where I currently live & right now the openstreetmap data is the cleanest by far of any print or online map of that area that I have seen (ie, better than Google maps, Yahoo maps, Rand McNally, etc.). And (though I haven't tried it personally) you can export the information and maps in a few different formats (for instance, SVG, PDF, postscript), then further edit it as necessary. Ask MetaFilter is a question and answer site that covers nearly any question on earth, where members help each other solve problems. Ask MetaFilter is where thousands of life's little questions are answered. Source.