Who Does — and Doesn't — Get Featured on Blue Highway Exit Signs?

If you've ever driven on the highway, you know them — the big blue signs near interstate exits showing travelers the nearest gas, food and hotel options. They're officially called "interstate logo signs,” but the places featured aren't random. Scoring a spot on these signs boosts profits for many companies and the states that control them. Tennessee nabs about $8 million per year, while Virginia gets about $6 million. All highway signs serve a specific purpose and their color is how you can easily tell what the sign's purpose is – direction, information, regulations, etc. There are three types of blue logo signs: Mainline: the first one you see that lets you know services are nearby; Ramp: closer to the exit and indicates whether you turn right or left at the off-ramp; and Trailblazer: the last and smallest sign that’s placed at each corner where drivers should turn to reach the business. Only certain types of business can advertise on the logo signs. In general, they need to be within five miles of a freeway exit [attractions can be within 15 miles] and be open to the general public normal business hours. Each state has its own criteria for what’s listed. Attractions like museums, wineries, and zoos are eligible for sign placement, but not churches, movie theaters, or adult-oriented entertainment venues. Applying to be featured is easy, but some businesses wait for years to get a spot on the signs. Even if space is available, it can be pricy. In Nebraska, for example, it's $1,200 per year, per sign – so if you want to cover exits in both directions, it would cost you $2,400 per year. Finally, the typical blue sign is bigger than you think — it's 19 feet wide and 10 feet high.