Forrest Gump Monument Valley filming locations. The main reason most people come to southern Utah!
At least, finding the Forrest Gump filming locations was one of the main reasons I went to southern Utah.
My mom and I had just finished up in Page, Arizona and needed to head to Mancos, Colorado, so when I found out that the exact location Forrest gave up on his cross country run and decided to go home was on our way, I was ecstatic.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a sacred (and gorgeous!) place that deserves a visit on any southwest road trip, so even if you think you’d just like to stop by Forrest Gump Point, try to budget an extra two or three hours to take it all in.
Here’s all you need to know about the movie magic in the area:
The Forrest Gump Monument Valley Filming Locations
Finding the Forrest Gump filming locations in Monument Valley is actually really easy. While the buttes look amazing up close, to find the perspective that’s in the movie, you want to be heading North on Highway 163 towards Mexican Hat, Utah.
If you type “Forrest Gump Point” into Google Maps, it will lead you to a spot on the highway that has a small dirt turnaround off the right side of the road (when facing North) so you can park your car.
There is usually a small crowd of people there, so as you approach the area make sure to drive slowly!
For some reason, Apple Maps and Waze were both not able to locate “Forrest Gump Point,” so make sure to have Google Maps downloaded before you head out.
Staying Safe at Forrest Gump Point
Much like Abbey Road in London (where the iconic photo of the Beatles was taken), Highway 163 is very much a real road and tourists have to kind of risk their lives to recreate an iconic shot. So be careful!
The speed limit on the highway is about 60MPH and the photo point in on the top of a small crest.
Because of this, you can see the cars coming from far enough away to safely clear the road for them, but it’s still a good ideas to have a dedicated lookout person, just in case.
Top Tips for Forrest Gump Monument Valley Locations
Time of Day
I’ve heard that early in the morning is the best time to go for photos because of the light in the area, but I went in the middle of the afternoon (and it was actually kind of cloudy out as well) and my photos turned out fine, so I wouldn’t worry about it.
Just arrive when it’s convenient for you (but obviously before dark lols).
For such a remote location, the Forrest Gump Monument Valley locations are actually quite popular. There were probably about 15 – 20 other people there wanting to take photos when I visited, but the nice thing is that there are plenty of different angels and perspectives to choose from, so it’s quite easy to get a shot without anyone else in it.
The group of tourists there were also very willing to wait patiently for their turn for the perfect photo, so if you have a particular vision in mind, just be kind and you’ll have your turn.
The Forrest Gump Sign
If you would like to take a photo with the Forrest Gump Sign as well, stand with your back to the buttes at Forrest Gump Point. About 500 feet up on your left you will see a small structure that local Navajo tradesmen sometimes use to sell their work. It may or may not be occupied, but the sign is right in front of it.
With your back to the buttes, you can’t see the engraving on it and it kind of just looked like a blank piece of wood, but once you get over to it, you’ll see the inscription.
Run, Forrest! Run!
What’s the point of even going if you don’t yell this to the other people there at least once?
Both towns are significant to American political history in that many key events during our fight to secure independence from Great Britain occurred in these once sleepy little towns.
Lexington even has the honor of being the “official” birthplace of the Revolutionary War, as the famous shot heard ’round the world was allegedly fired on Lexington Green…although there’s some fun debate as to whether or not that’s true.
You’ll have to visit and decide for yourself!
Miles from Boston: 25
Salem is spooky all year round! While most people choose to visit Salem during October, the history of the Witch Trials, as well as the maritime history, is worth a visit no matter the season.
I was pleasantly surprised by just how quaint and relaxing this seaside town is.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Miles from Boston: 70ish, depending on the town you visit.
Cape Cod (locally pronounced as Cape Cahd) is a great place to go for the seaside, quaint cabins in the woods, and cranberry bogs. It’s also where the Kennedy family compound is, so if you’re one of the brave souls who is willing to socialize with them, see if you can score an invite to one of their bonfires.
My friends and I stopped by a nearby beach to get a look at the house, but when I called my mom about it, she about came through the phone to set me straight. “Don’t you ever get into any sort of transportation with a Kennedy boy, Emily. It’ll be the last thing you do.”
Moms. Always looking out for you.
Miles from Boston: 90ish, depending on the town you visit.
Mount Holyoke College
Step aside Boston, Western Mass is the true educational hub of Massachusetts.
Yes, it’s where I went to college, so I am extremely biased, but the number of things to do in the area still make it worth the trip. Emily Dickinson grew up in Amherst, so you can visit her house, and if you like to relive the simpler days of your childhood, the Eric Carle Museum is for you.
The five colleges in the area (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) also usually have a full calendar of academic and cultural events to choose from.
I’m a sucker for historic houses. When studying history, we learn so much about politics, war, geography, and the like that it’s just so refreshing for me to just be in a home.
I LOVE seeing how people’s day to day lives were. How they ate. What they wore. How they did their laundry. What kinds of toys the kids had. I feel like visiting historic houses humanizes the past, so Sturbridge Village was a dream come true for me because as the name suggests, it’s not just a historic house, but an entire village dedicated to 1830’s New England.
Miles from Boston: 40
Seeing Plymouth Rock is actually anticlimactic AF, givin that’s tiny and I’m pretty sure the rock on display isn’t actually the rock the pilgrims landed on, nor in the same vicinity at all, but oh well.
It’s still cool to see the town of Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum where you can learn about the early days of American Colonialism and the Native Americans who lived in the area before the English arrived.
Newport, Rhode Island
Miles from Boston: 72
Newport is one of the best short day trips from Boston to take because of its famous Gilded Age mansions. Early buisness magnates like the Vanderbilts vanderbuilt (lols) palatial homes on the Atlantic seashore that are the ultimate #HouseHunterGoals.
It’s easy to spend a day exploring and envisioning yourself as a member of the elite.
While the Robber Barons hid out in Newport, Watch Hill, Rhode Island is where the modern day rich and famous go for a little seaside fun. Most notably, this quaint seaside village is home to country superstar Taylor Swift’s summer cottage.
And by cottage, I mean multi-million dollar mansion. It’s where she hosts her annual star-studded 4th of July party, so if you’re keen to meet a celebrity, that’s a good time to pop down.
Quintessential Maine: LL Bean Boots, lobster, and lighthouses. All things that are very easy to come by in Portland and Freeport.
Maine is one of the best short day trips from Boston to take because where else can you pose with a giant boot AND eat fresh lobster all in the same day? As you’re sitting on the waterfront with new Bean Boots on your feet, and lobster butter on your fingers, the state’s tourism slogan will never feel truer.
Maine: the way life should be.
Miles from Boston: 100
I tend to travel to places because Julia Roberts once ate pizza there.
For example, I ate at the Pizzeria di Michele in Naples, Italy because of Eat, Pray, Love and Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut…for the movie, you guessed it, Mystic Pizza.
Be sure to watch the 1988 coming-of-age classic before heading down for your day of fun. The Mystic Aquarium even has Beluga Whales — making it one of the best short day trips from Boston.
When my sister Kerry asked me to be her maid of honor, I knew I had to throw the most bangin bachelorette party of all time.
But, since she doesn’t really drink, the typical Vegas girls trip was not going to work. So I started looking for fun bachelorette party ideas for non-drinkers. The key to a great dry bachelorette party isn’t necessarily a city that doesn’t have any nightlife, just a city that has plenty to do during the day.
You have to find your bridal party’s niche: culture, nature, or classic. It’s also worth it to consider flight time from your bride’s base location.
Because of this, I’ve picked cities all over the USA, so you have plenty to choose from.
“Nature” Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
My sister and I at Mount Rushmore. She’s rockin her “bride to be” sash.
I took my sister to Mount Rushmore and the surrounding Black Hills attractions for her bachelorette party in 2016. We LOVED it. There’s so much to do, from pretending to pick the noses of the presidents on the mountain, trying not to get attacked by rogue billy goats, and hikes — hikes galore.
If your bride (or bridesmaids!) like hikes, animals, National Treasure, or American history, a trip to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills should be perfect.
If anyone in your bridal party likes hiking, or taking selfies in wide brim hats next to a natural wonder of the world, then a road trip to the Grand Canyon is a great idea for your group. It’s also about a four hour drive from Vegas, so if your group is a partier / non-partier mix, it’s possible to appease both types of people within one trip.
“Culture” Fun Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers
With some girlfriends at the Hungarian Embassy in DC.
Washington, DC has the best museums in the USA, if not the world. The National Gallery of Art, the Air and Space Museum, the Ford Theater (where Lincoln was assassinated), Newseum, and more.
If your bride likes to make art history Snapchats, learn about Spaceships, or even just stroll along the National Mall with an eye out for Captain America, Washington DC is the perfect place for your party.
I’m partial to Boston because I went to school in Western Mass and spent a lot of town in the city.
Boston is America’s London: politically important and culturally significant. It’s perfect for a sober girls trip because you can spend the day wandering the Freedom Trail, chowing down on Clam Chowder, or taking in a game at Fenway.
Memphis is the first place I ever went on a solo trip, so it has a special place in my heart. It’s also a good dry alternative to the “Nashvegas” bachelorette parties which seem to be becoming more and more popular. Memphis is more about the soul of rock n’ roll: how it came to be and the legend it left behind.
“Classic” Bachelorette Party Ideas for Non-Drinkers
Orlando is the ultimate classic girls trip!
Whether your bride is more interested in posing with Cinderella’s Castle or riding the Hulk at Universal Island of Adventure, Orlando has everything you could need for a dry bachelorette party. The adrenaline rush from your first ride on the Dueling Dragons at Harry Potter World will stay with you all day!
New York City
New York City is the perfect trip for anyone! Whether your bridal party is into museums or manicures, parks or pub crawls, NYC has something at you all can do. You can divide an conquer or alternate the kinds of activities you do each day. It almost feels like a cop out to include NYC on this list of fun bachelorette party ideas for non-drinkers, because it’s such a given, but I had to put it forward, just in case.
The entire town of Newport, Rhode Island looks like it walked straight of out a storybook. The water is so crisply blue I briefly wondered if it had been dyed. The sun, warm and bright, felt heavenly, not hellish. The famous Newport Mansions dotting the coast were the perfect final touch.
Luckily, the best photo spots in Newport, Rhode Island and the most interesting things to do in the area go hand and hand. If you have one day, one hour, or one week in this sometimes sleepy, sometimes sultry seaside town, here’s where you should visit:
Built in the 1890’s by the filthy rich Cornelius Vanderbilt II, The Breakers became a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The 125,339 square foot house is the closest thing you can get to a royal palace in America, as its over 70 rooms are crafted with only the finest marble and limestone.
It’s hard to imagine that it would not only belong to just one family, but that they wouldn’t even spend an entire month there each year because they owned so many other ornate homes. On top of everything, Cornelius Vanderbilt II wasn’t even the richest of the bunch. His grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt I was worth over $215 billion in today’s money.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is only worth $121 billion. Bill Gates is worth $91 billion.
Marble House is one of the best photo spots in Newport, Rhode Island simply because of the history here.
Alva Vanderbilt was one of the original suffragettes and often held rallies calling for women’s rights on the front steps. When you visit, it’s hard not to close your eyes and imagine the commotion of it all unfolding around you.
The cool, marble exterior also sharply contrasts with the foliage and skyline, transforming Marble House from a simple structure into a striking statement. I can only imagine this was done entirely on purpose.
Speeding over the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge on our way to visit the Newport Mansions, my friend Siobhan and I noticed the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and made sure to circle around on our way home to explore it.
After spending the day in the “old money” part of Newport, learning about the Gilded Age legends who once called the area home, it was rather grounding to be in a place where modern Newport, the Sailing Capital of the World, thrived.
Back in my mother’s BC years (before children) she raced sailboats out of Cedar Point Yacht Club in Connecticut, so I also took interest in Ida Lewis for what it could tell me about my mother.
Address: 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116 (parking lot address)
Admission: Varies. Adult tickets from $39.75 – $169. See my recommendation below. $10 for parking, if needed.
Hours: Vary greatly depending on the season, but usually fall between 9:00AM and 5:00PM.
Graceland is only about a 5 minute drive from Memphis International Airport, so it makes sense to visit it first thing if you fly in. The only minor logistics thing here is luggage. If you rent a car (which you don’t technically need to see the main Memphis attractions), then you can just leave your bags in the car as you explore Graceland.
If you use ride sharing, then you have two options: go to your hotel first, drop off your bags, then head back to Graceland (this wasn’t an option for me since I travel on a shoestring) OR just bring a small bag and store it in the lockers at Guest Services which are 12inches wide x 22inches long x 27inches deep.
I spent about 4 hours at Graceland and purchased the equivalent of the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour. It was $96.50 and would have been $101.50 if I had included a visit to Elvis’ airplanes.
It included the following things:
Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
Self-guided tour of Presley Motors Automobile Museum
Self-guided tour of Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
Self-guided tours of Elvis Discovery Exhibits
Self-guided tour of Exclusive VIP Exhibit
Front-of-the-Line Mansion Access
Keepsake Backstage Pass
Is Graceland worth the trip?
Yes, but I didn’t feel like this level of ticket was worth it because I wasn’t an Elvis super fan. Elvis Presley died 15 years, 364 days before I was born, so I grew up seeing him as a cultural moment, rather than a musician to invest time and interest in.
So, while I was excited to learn more about his brand of rock n’ roll and the impact he had on a generation, the 4 hours I spent in his home were a little overwhelming and felt too long.
So, if you are just there for the history and fun, and not like the man from Alabama that I asked to take a photo of me in front of the mansion who visits every year and tears up when he talks about Elvis, you should opt for the Elvis Experience Tour for $59, which includes the following things:
Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
Self-guided tour of Presley Motors Automobile Museum
Self-guided tour of Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
Self-guided tours of Elvis Discovery Exhibits
This way, you get to see the wonder that is the shag carpet inside of Graceland, Elvis’ cool car collection, and learn a little bit about his life, but not be bombarded by nostalgia that you can’t really feel.
Address: 706 Union Avenue Memphis, TN 38103 at the corner of Marshall and Union
Admission: Adults $14 / Military, Students, & AAA $12 / Kids 5 -11 FREE / Kids under 5 not permitted.
Hours: Sun Studio is open 7 days a week from 10AM – 6:15PM. Tours begin at the bottom half of every hour from 10:30AM – 5:30PM.
There is a free shuttle from Graceland to Sun Studio, so if you time your visit right, you won’t have to pay for a ride share. The Shuttle picks up and drops off every hour at the top of the hour, from 10:00AM – 6:00PM. You can find the shuttle at the cab stand at Graceland’s entrance.
Sun Studio is known worldwide as “The Birthplace of Rock’n’roll.” Legends like B.B. King, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis have recorded at Sun Studio. In fact, it’s the place where Elvis recorded his first ever song.
And you can hold the microphone that made it happen!
My tour lasted 45 minutes and was definitly a can’t miss Memphis attraction.
Your 2 days in Memphis wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Beale Street.
Beale Street is filled with bars, restaurants, and interestedly enough, ice cream shops. I don’t like going to bars alone, as I don’t really drink and frankly find the humming energy that they contain overwhelming without a familiar presence nearby, so I chose to visit
to sit at the counter of its old fashion soda shop, chat with the nice man who gave me extra whipped cream on my milkshake, and later explore the store with all its oddities. If you find Beale Street too touristy, or prefer a more intimate vibe, try
Mollie Fontaine Lounge
679 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38105
Wednesday – Saturday, 5:00PM – ’til the spirits go to sleep
Closed Sunday – Tuesday
An antiques-filled Victorian house lounge which serves martinis & tapas and features local bands. I didn’t make it to Mollie’s, but my Airbnb host couldn’t stop raving about it. Next time!
Admission: Adults $16 / Seniors & Students with ID $14 / Kids 5-17 $13 / Members, Active Military, Kids under 4 FREE
Hours: Wednesday – Monday, 9:00am – 5:00pm, CLOSED EVERY TUESDAY
This is the most powerful and insightful museum that I’ve ever been to. It follows the journey of African Americans from the transatlantic slave trade all the way to #BlackLivesMatter, explaining in accessible detail things that were continually glossed over during my formal education.
As I made my way through the exhibits, I thought about the people whose first thought is “he was reaching!” when a young father is murdered by the police, or “she’s playing the race card” when a public figure comes forward about racist harassment.
“If they would just come here,” I thought. “If they could just see!” The deep, institutional roots that racism has in America have never been as clear as when I was in the National Civil Rights Museum.
Please, make visiting this museum a priority, even if you only have 2 days in Memphis. I left feeling embarrassed of how much I didn’t know, convicted by what I learned, and inspired to do better.
Tom Lee Park is only about a 5 minute walk from the National Civil Rights Museum and a relaxing place to stroll, sit, or sunbathe. It offers great views of the Mighty Mississippi, the Memphis Skyline, and even Arkansas across the river.
As I sat on a bench in Tom Lee Park, the peacefulness, the feeling of community, and the natural wonder of the river made me feel like I wouldn’t mind calling Memphis home. I left wanting to spend way more than 2 days in Memphis.
Visiting the Bass Pro Pyramid directly after the National Civil Rights Museum was definitly jarring, in terms of cultural contrast, but still enjoyable.
I’m from Texas, but was still overwhelmed by the overall southernness of the complex. If you’re a Yankee, or not American, it’s a great place to really get inside the mind of a good ‘ole country boy who likes huntin’,fishin’, and lovin’ everyday.
I think that the $10 to ride the elevator to the observation deck was worth it, as the view was amazing and the experience of riding a freestanding elevator was also fun. You could easily spend over an hour exploring the store.
Hours: The Ducks arrive everyday at 11:00AM and retire for the evening at 5:00PM.
My mom lived in Memphis when she was in Jr. High School and stayed at the Peabody Hotel at the beginning of her life there. She remembered being delighted by the Peabody Duck Parade, so I made it a priority to visit during my 2 days in Memphis.
I thought the ducks looked cute, swimming around in the fountain. I liked the ringmaster-esque costume of the Peabody Duckmaster. I thought the booming classical music that accompanies the duck march was fun. I’ve read that others think the Peabody Duck Parade is overhyped or not worth it, but I enjoyed it.
Maybe it was because of my sentimental attachment to the event, or maybe because it was a good excuse to wander around the ornate inside of the hotel, but I didn’t find it lame at all. I’d also recommend following the ducks up to their penthouse. It’s pretty cute.
The best viewing for the Peabody Duck Parade is on the second story, directly behind the fountain.