Twenty years have passed since Forrest Gump first regaled strangers on a Savannah park bench with tales of American history and boxes of chocolate, but the film remains an iconic part of our nation's film canon. Perhaps equally iconic are the film's locations—sweeping in breadth, the movie transports viewers from the American South to Vietnam.
For a taste of Forrest Gump's version of American history, skip the line at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and take a trip to one of these locations instead:
Chippewa Square, Savannah, GA
It's hard to imagine Forrest Gump without the scenes in Chippewa Square, where Gump dispenses wisdom about life to perfect strangers on a park bench (everything from "stupid is as stupid does" to "life is like a box of chocolates"). You can visit the square today—but don't expect to sit on the bench. The film's famed bench was placed in the square only for filming, and then moved to the nearby Savannah History Museum.
Yemassee, South Carolina
Many of the scenes from Forrest's youth in the fictional town of Greenbow, Alabama, were actually filmed in South Carolina, among the small towns of Yemassee and Beaufort. Many of the structures for the film—like Jenny's farmhouse and Forrest's family boarding house—were built specifically for the film and torn down when production wrapped, but a few remnants of the film remain visible around the towns. The road where Forrest was chased in a pickup truck by high school bullies is located at 3547 Combahee Road, Yemassee, South Carolina—though it leads to a private property, so it's probably best not to recreate the famous chase-scene on your own.
Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina
Forrest's time fighting in the Vietnam War lends the movie some of its most heartrending moments—but they weren't filmed on the beaches of Vietnam. Instead, movie officials chose Hunting Island State Park, in South Carolina, as the setting for many of the film's war scenes. Today, Hunting Island is one of the most popular state parks in South Carolina, welcoming more than a million visitors each year.
Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Washington, DC
In another iconic scene, Forrest attends a rally in Washington, D.C., only to catch a glimpse of his childhood best friend Jenny across the reflecting pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. All three are, of course, free and open to the public, and attract a huge number of visitors each year. The National Park Service reports that some 24 million people come to the National Mall annually.
Watergate Hotel, Washington, DC
Forrest Gump manages to witness a lot of monumental moments in American history simply by being in the right place at the right time—and his night spent in the Watergate Hotel is no exception. When he calls the front desk about a few men across the courtyard rummaging through a room with flashlights, he has no idea that he has spotted the scandal that will lead to President Nixon's resignation. Today, the Watergate complex still stands near Washington, D.C.'s waterfront, and serves as a mixed-use complex with office buildings, residential spaces and various cafes.
Marshall Point Lighthouse, Maine
Forrest spends a lot of his time running—throughout the course of the film, he manages to cross the country completely on foot, amassing a following along the way. To reach the Atlantic Ocean, Forrest runs to Marshall Point Lighthouse, one of over 60 lighthouses that dot Maine's rocky coastline. The lighthouse is open to visitors daily from sunrise to sunset.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
While on a three-year, coast-to-coast run, Forrest claims that he only stopped to eat and sleep. In real life, actor Tom Hanks didn't have to suffer the same fate: in the scenes that show Forrest running, it's actually Hanks' brother acting as a stunt double. Some beautiful shots show Forrest running along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, especially around Grandfather Mountain.
Twin Arrows Trading Post, Arizona
On his run across America, Forrest helps create an American pop-culture icon when a truck driving by splashes mud on his face and a running mate gives him a t-shirt to clean the mud off—an imprint of Gump's face remains on the shirt, and the famous "Smiley" is born. During the scene, viewers can catch two arrows behind Gump's running route—this is the Twin Arrows Trading Post, about 20 miles east of Flagstaff. Once a famous stop along Route 66, the arrows have fallen into disrepair since I-40 became the main route of transportation; so make sure you get down to see them before they're gone for good.
Monument Valley, Utah and Arizona
One day, three years into his journey, Forrest suddenly decides to stop running. It's unclear exactly where in Monument Valley Forrest felt the urge to return home, but don't let that stop you from visiting the beautiful region, which extends into Utah and Arizona. The valley, peppered with dramatic sandstone buttes, is one of the most photographed spots on Earth.