Vintage Sign Post: Arne’s Royal Hawaiian

I’ve been a longtime fan of old signs. I think they’re so much more interesting than today’s common backlit box signs. They’re more expensive, but are a great detail for any business.

Driving around Southern California there are still a lot of cool old signs, although they are being torn down on the regular. I lost all my old pictures on my last computer (an expensive and sad lesson learned about the values of external hard drives) so I often bring my camera with me to recapture old faves and stop whenever I come across new-to-me vintage gems.

If you’ve ever driven from SoCal to Las Vegas, you may have noticed the giant thermometer out in the desert counting the crazy-high Summer temps. That is in the city of Baker, which is also home to a few gas stations, quick serve food spots, and an intergalactic jerky station with an empty lot nearby that claims to soon be an UFO-theme hotel (another post on that later, promise!).

As you cruise through Baker’s main drag, you will also see the remains of Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel, including the beautifully decrepit signs.


To be clear, Baker is on the way to Vegas or the turn off towards Death Valley, so it’s not exactly a lush paradise.


It has obviously been closed for a few years, and even though the sun was out and I wasn’t alone, I didn’t want to venture too far into this Polynesian hideaway– I was a little creeped out! I do wish I had seen it in it’s heyday, probably before the mega resorts of Vegas became commonplace.


I did like the turquoise color way with diamond detail. Part of me would love to see someone swoop in and refurb this whole place into an Instagram worthy hotspot straight out of an old Mad Men episode, but Baker is just too close to Vegas.


So next time you pass by the thermometer, stop and pay the Royal Hawaiian a quick visit (from the safety of your car).