Naomi is right about the trunk of the maple and the large leaves, but they're also more of an upright tree. If you go to a nursery most of the red maples will stand out more because the color will be more vibrant, some are more orange, others will be more red (like a fiery red).
They are hardy trees and grow well in zones 3-9, the more sun they get the brighter they will be, and since they grow so tall, they can be gorgeous in the back yard as well to give some shade to a corner or area of your garden. Another maple is the Silver Maple, but I am not real familiar on the specifics of it.
Japanese Maples are very pretty also, but are not as upright as other Maples. It's not that they droop, some happen to be more shrub-like as they grow which is very pretty along with the dark red and green of it's leaves.
There are a lot of Japanese Maples where I live, and they add such a nice touch in front of the landscape. They also can provide a bit of shade for any small annuals or perrenials that you might want to put under it for decoration in the garden.