The Surprising Reason This Arizona McDonald’s Location Has Blue Arches

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: NNECAPA / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

One of the most recognizable logos in the world is the McDonald’s Golden Arches. The bright yellow “M” has been a symbol of fast food since 1968, drawing in hungry patrons for the restaurant’s signature Big Mac and fries. There are only a few franchises that differ from this standard design. One is in Arizona – and the reason behind this location’s turquoise arches is pretty surprising.

Exterior of the McDonald's restaurant in Sedona, Arizona
The blue arches of the Sedona, Arizona McDonald’s location have made the restaurant a popular tourist attraction. (Photo Credit: slick69 / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The McDonald’s in Sedona, Arizona opened its doors in 1993, just four years after the city itself became incorporated. For those unfamiliar with the area, it’s surrounded by a desert and mountainous landscape of red rock. It’s a place of beauty, and one of the more picturesque locations in the state.

When it was announced that a franchisee was looking to open their own McDonald’s, city officials became concerned that the company’s traditional Golden Arches would clash with Sedona’s natural beauty, as Cari Meyer, a senior planner with the Department of Community Development, told ABC 15:

“McDonald’s was built in the early 1990s, right after the city was incorporated in 1989. Someone suggested it would be interesting if they did something else than Golden Arches to fit in with the identity that the city decided to establish.”

Surprisingly, McDonald’s company officials were okay with making the change, and the restaurant opened with the Golden Arches being a much more subdued turquoise instead.

Close-up of the McDonald's blue arches on the exterior of the Sedona, Arizona restaurant
The McDonald’s restaurant in Sedona, Arizona is the only one to feature blue arches. (Photo Credit: Ted Soqui / CORBIS / Getty Images)

An unexpected side effect of the change in color is that this McDonald’s franchise has become a sort-of pseudo-tourist attraction for the city of Sedona. Those passing through will often make a pit-stop and take pictures in front of the turquoise arches. What they’ll also likely notice is that the signage outside the location is shorter than that of other restaurants, as the standard height is too tall under city ordinances.

If you’re thinking the Sedona McDonald’s offers a different experience, however, you’re likely to be disappointed. Inside, the restaurant looks like any other franchise. There are no special menu items, and besides the drink cups and burger containers being painted the location’s signature turquoise, everything else is the exact same as every other McDonald’s.

Mountain behind the McDonald's restaurant in Sedona, Arizona
City officials in Sedona, Arizona felt the traditional McDonald’s Golden Arches clashed with the area’s natural beauty. (Photo Credit: CGPGrey.com / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

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Surprisingly, the Sedona McDonald’s isn’t the only location to not sport the company’s famous Golden Arches. The franchises in Paris, France and Brussels, Belgium feature white arches alongside the traditional yellow.