Outdoor advertising directional signs


Outdoor advertising directional signs are a special category of outdoor advertising sign. They are intended to inform motorists of public and privately owned qualifying activities and attractions. This category is more restrictive than other types of outdoor advertising signs with regard to quantity, size, spacing, and content. However, traditional zoning restrictions do not apply. These signs can be erected along multiple highways and each qualifying activity or attraction is potentially eligible to erect six directional signs – three signs per direction of travel on a single route approaching the activity.


  • Private property (off highway right-of-way)
  • On controlled routes


  • 150 square feet maximum area
  • 20 feet maximum height or length


  • Qualifying attractions: government, natural phenomena, historic, cultural, scientific, educational, religious, natural scenic beauty, naturally suited for outdoor recreation.
  • The message may contain only the name of the attraction or activity and directional information, such as mileage, route numbers, exit numbers, etc. 

Fabrication, installation and maintenance

  • Applicant

Paid for by

  • Applicant

Relevant law, code, manual



Qualifying activities and attractions

  • Public Places Owned and Operated by Governments: Must provide appropriate documentation that the site is owned and/or managed by a governmental entity.
  • Natural Phenomena: Sites of interest to the traveling public because of the opportunity to observe and/or experience nature, including geology, flora and/or fauna.
  • Natural Scenic Beauty: Natural or scenic areas such as beaches, gorges, nature facilities, nature preserves, nature sanctuaries, observation points, observation towers, parks, scenic areas, trails, lakes, waterfalls, waterways, and bluffs.
  • Historic: Included in official registers of designated state or federal historic sites. Applicant must provide documentation.
  • Educational: Sites with a primary purpose to impart knowledge or skills through observation or participation. Examples include museums, aquariums, wildlife facilities, wildlife preserves, wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. Can include agri-tourism businesses such as breweries, gardens, cheese factories, vineyards, orchards, and wineries if regular tours are conducted. Applicant must provide documentation of regular tours.
  • Cultural: Sites dedicated or related to the appreciation of the arts such as galleries, halls of fame, museums, concert halls, and performing arts facilities.
  • Scientific: Site where scientific studies and/or research are conducted.
  • Religious: Sites of spiritual significance, religious sites or shrines. Does not typically include cathedrals, churches, chapels, synagogues, temples or mosques, unless the site is regionally recognized and tours are conducted for non-members at least on a weekly basis. Applicant must provide documentation of regular tours.
  • Naturally Suited for Outdoor Recreation: Outdoor areas used by travelers for participatory activities such as skiing, golfing, swimming, fishing or shooting.

Visitor count requirements

  • Interstates
    • Must have an annual visitor count of 15,000 or more
  • Freeways and other controlled routes
    • Must have an annual visitor count of 10,000 or more; or
    • Must have an annual visitor count of 5,000 or more and be on the federal historic register; or
    • Must have an annual visitor count of 2,500 or more, of which at least 25% of the visitors must reside outside the county in which the tourist attraction is located. 

Message content

  • Name of the qualifying attraction or activity
  • Directional information (mileage, route numbers, exit numbers, etc.)

PROHIBITED message content

  • Descriptive words or phrases
  • Pictorial or photographic representations of the activity or its surroundings

For more information

Contact the WisDOT Region Outdoor Advertising Signing Contact.