The Wonderful World of Travel Signs.

Travel signs. You see them when your driving, biking, hiking or taking a walk. You see them on the highway, on a two-lane road in the country, in the big city. You see them at parks, beaches and everywhere else imaginable. I’ve been fascinated with these travel signs as long as I can remember. On family road trips, I’d watch the exit numbers on the freeway go up, waiting eagerly for the next sign indicating how many miles it was to the next big town or city, wondering what the difference was between green, blue and brown signs.

I don’t know what kind of sign is better than a welcome-to sign, whether you’re entering into a new village, town, city, state, province or even country. When I am somewhere, for the first time especially, I’m thinking a new place equals new possibilities. More and more towns and places are putting up elaborate welcome-to signs to try to showcase their place. To this day when driving north or south on I-75 I get goose bumps when I see the welcome-to state signs especially Georgia when going south and Michigan when driving north.

Welcome to Georgia
Welcome to Michigan
Welcome to Tennessee
Welcome to New York
Welcome to Coromandel Peninsula - New Zealand

Highway Signs. Numbers everywhere. Some questions you might be thinking: How can I be on a road that has four different highway designations one northbound, another west, yet another something else. Which way am I really going? How can I be turning onto a road going east off of a road going east? I’m on HWY-32, when did that happen? In all honesty, the more numbers, highways, confusion there is, the better I like it. Lot’s of numbers and lot’s of places to explore. The photo I took of Georgia State Route 141 below caught my attention because I noticed the gas price in the picture of $2.38. I took this last year. Boy those were the days! Ohio State Route 2 is part of the Lake Erie circle tour. There is a circle tour for each of the Great Lakes, which I highly recommend going on. So scenic. I’ve done the Erie, Michigan and Huron circle tours so far.

Georgia Highway 141 - Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
Georgia highway signs
Ohio highway signs - Perrysburg
Northern Georgia I-75
Michigan Highway 116 - Ludington
Ohio State Route 2 - Lake Erie circle tour

Lots of cities, parks and others places have signs sprinkled about, giving the tourist or new person in town guidance to some their best and most popular destinations. The first one below is in Queenstown, New Zealand highlighting streets and where visitors can get information. The one below that within Leelanau State Park indicates how far your away from other points across the lakes. If it was only that many miles to drive to those places. Parks use them too as the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, Australia below indicates how to get to the various gardens and attractions. The comprehensive city ones like the one in Auckland highlight attractions, provide a map and even provide the current time.

Queenstown - New Zealand
Leelanau Peninsula - Michigan
Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney, Australia
Auckland - New Zealand

These days with GPS devices and your enabled smart phones you always know how far your away from somewhere. Your also better enabled to answer the questions posed above. What did people do before GPS? They relied on physical maps and the mileage signs along the interstate. At least to me though there is still nothing like seeing a freeway sign indicating how far you have until your next destination or seeing highway signs indicating the next biggest city in a certain direction.

New Zealand South Island - Hwy 73
Downtown Cleveland Ohio - Eastbound I-90 along Lake Erie shoreline
Georgia - Metro Atlanta
New Zealand South Island - Hwy 79

I’m not just fascinated by directional signs and ones along the highway. Spending a lot of time at parks and beaches, I’ve seen my far share of signs including yes/no on fishing and swimming, no wake and smoking signs. For a photo, nothing beats a backdrop with a sign in front. The beginning of some hiking trails have signage estimating how long it’ll take to hike to the final point, waterfall or a scenic view. Whether it’s an hour or a two-day hike nothing beats seeing the sign marking you’ve made it all the way as I did at Kea Point overlooking Mount Cook in New Zealand.

Tunnel Park - Holland, Michigan
Kensington Park - Michigan
Voinovich Park - Cleveland, Ohio
Kea Point - Mount Cook, Aoraki, New Zealand

Travel signs do a great job of helping people get around, lead them to popular destinations and warn them like if roads are slippery or you should not swim there. Whether on a day road trip, navigating through a big city or hiking at the park I’ll continue to photograph and be in awe of the signs I come across. What kinds of travel signage do you like? Which cities, states, countries and other places do you think does the best job at guiding their visitors through signs?

4 responses to “The Wonderful World of Travel Signs.

  1. We just nabbed a West Virginia welcome sign and some Lincoln Highway signs in Ohio this past week…I’m always trying to get grab shots of signs as we buzz by on the road.

    I developed the habit of taking photos of signs years ago as a means of helping figure out where I took photos and to use as titles slides (yes, it was that long ago!). I use them a lot in my blog as well…sometimes as little headlines or just a way to break up text while I’m telling a story.

    The historical markers are among my favorites….and I like a lot of the individual town welcome signs (how else would you know who the Class Z spit ball champs are, or where General Whosit originally called home?).

    • I’ve been on U.S. Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, between I-75 and Canton, Ohio. Didn’t get any sign pics. 😦 Would love to take it across the country. Route 66 too. I do the same thing when in a big city, finding a sign or something that has the city name on it to use as a reference. I usually remember things from welcome-to signs like town mottos and what they are known for, maybe even when the town was established, but never what they were state champs in, in the past.

  2. Oh, I love this post. I’ve always enjoyed looking at road signs. I did a road trip in the US in 2009 and wanted so much to take photos of all the state boundary signs but kept missing them! The ones we have at home just say ‘Welcome to [whatever state]’, whereas the signs in the US have a lot more character. The one of New York which you posted brings back so many memories

    • Thank you! I know what you mean. I have passed a lot of signs that I didn’t take pics of, especially when I was younger. Time to play catchup! New York is one of the favorites I have seen recently. There seems in be a lot more city and town welcome signs with character these days. I’ll take a pic of those every so often.

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