Driving tips for summer road trips and vacation drivingGiven this economy, more and more of us are vacationing by car and staying close to home this summer.

If you can’t take a massive road trip and show the kids all of the Lower 48 — or if you just don’t want to because last year there was too much kicking the back of the seat, too much “she’s looking at me!,” and one too many cans of Orange Crush spilled into the carpet — then you can have a hassle-free virtual vacation with Smashing USA‘s photo collection of Welcome Signs to 50 American States.

(Actually, they call it “Welcome Signs from 50 American States,” but that doesn’t sound right, does it? Nobody welcomes anyone from a place. You welcome them to a place, right?)

Not only is the collection a really cheap and easy road trip substitute, it’s also an interesting look at the diversity that exists across the USA. Tourism offices always try to make the best impression possible, so you can get how each state sees itself and a sense of what each state prides itself on.

And use it a kind of geography lesson for the kids. Which state calls itself “The Ocean State”? In what state was Lincoln born and where did he live as a boy? (Hint: neither of them is Illinois.) Which two states welcome visitors in both English and French?

Welcome to Texas sign from www.flickr.com


UPDATE: Smashing USA seems to be gone now, but Conde Nast Traveler has their own version of 50 Welcome Signs for the 50 United States of America.

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