041 | Adventure Potential of Brown Signs

How to find hidden gems and simple adventures around the world and in your own community.

We have talked about brown signs in Episode 013 | Untoursim. How to Travel like a Local which focuses on a way to travel differently.  It is a form of authentic adventures where our intent is to design an experience based on local insights (rather than from the tourism industry)  and 028B | 15 Mini Adventures your Family can do this Weekend are ways to experience simple adventures in your own community.   If you want to practice simple ways to experience adventure and get a little uncomfortable you might want to join the 60-day Everyday Adventure Challenge.  Registration closes September 4, 2021.  To register go to ordinarysherpa.com/challenge

What do brown signs indicate? A tourist sign, often referred to as a brown sign, is a traffic sign whose purpose is to direct visitors to tourist destinations, such as historic buildings, tourist regions, caravan or camp sites, picnic areas, sporting facilities or museums.

I found “brown signs” many years ago on long car rides in the passenger seat.  I became curious and began exploring this more deeply.  As we planned travels or looked for everyday opportunities in our own backyard I began looking at the brown signs.  The exposure revealed an entire world of unconscious opportunities.  In the mid-1970s tourist signs were introduced in France.Since that time the idea of directing tourists to sights and attractions using a uniform type of signage has spread around the world. 

Part of my mission with untourism is revealing opportunities that are unconscious to us and designing our own experience rather than being sold what the tourism industry wants us to believe.  

Example of the potential of one County in Iowa

  • 12,000 Acres
  • 22 Parks
  • 32 Athletic Fields
  • 300 Special Events (Runs, Rides, Fairs, public picnics, concerts, derbies, recreation events like orienteering, regattas, markets, Horse rides, performances, swap meets and car shows, Food Truck events, exercise classes, sports tournaments, etc.) 
  • Endless miles of trails
  • 1 Conservatory
  • 1 Public Campground
    • 46 Campsites
  • 4 Scout/Youth Camping Areas
  • 2 Dog Parks
    • ​with reciprocal access to 3 additional dog parks 
  • 2 Arboretums 
  • 2 parks for Off-road cycling 
  • 1 Beach for Swimming
  • 4 Canoe and Kayak launches 
  • 1 Fish hatchery 
  • 1 Model airplane flying field 
  • 5 parks with Pickleball courts 
  • 4 parks with Tennis courts 
  • 6 parks with Designated Sledding Hills 
  • 2 parks with Downhill Skiing 
  • Endless Fishing
  • 3 parks with Groomed Cross Country Ski Trails
  • 2 Disc Golf Courses 
  • 3 parks with Golf Courses
    • 5 Courses 81 total Holes
  • ​3 Ice Skating Rinks 
  • 1 Working/Educational Farm 
  • 1 Bird Sanctuary 

There is a huge untapped potential to begin an everyday adventure in a local tourist attraction that you did not even know existed.  I think many of us know about National Parks and Monuments, followed by State parks and there are resources curated to help you navigate the opportunities.  I am deeply interested in creating a more comprehensive solution for finding and crowdsourcing experiences.  I just haven’t figured it out so if that is something you would be interested in helping Ordinary Sherpa develop DM or send me an email to connect and discuss further.  

Key Takeaways
1. Do not underestimate the opportunity of a brown sign.
2. One county park in Iowa had over 25 adventures embedded in one location.  How many counties are across the state? country?  That is a lot of adventure potential
3. When you see a brown sign take note and get curious. 
4. Beyond state and national parks, I have not found a great source for finding the hidden gems of brown sings..  If that is something you would  be interested in helping with reach out to Heidi @Ordinary Sherpa  (DM or email)
5. Have a favorite brown sign?  Jump into the Ordinary Sherpa Facebook Group and add to the thread.  This community is designed to crowdsource what you value. 

Where to Listen

Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher,  Google Podcast, anywhere podcasts are played