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This isn’t a super well-known fact about me unless you probably know me in person, but I love Nancy Drew. The books, the games, the show, you name it. Of all the Nancy Drew things, I probably love the games the most, and recently I was driving through Monument Valley, and thought wow, it feels like I’m in Secret of Shadow Ranch right now, and this post was born.
So while we can’t really be in the games, visiting any of these 29 places might (hopefully) make you at least feel a little bit like you’re in the games. Some of these places will have features seen in the games but may not be exact locations. Some will include places that just have the right vibe to go with the game or look similar to a game location. And finally, others will be real locations (or as close as you can get) to real locations.
I’ll include a bit about the game before the locations, too, and I will keep it spoiler-free and ask you to as well in any discussions. The games are in no particular order and not all of them are included, but I would love to hear any suggestions to be added to this list (games and locations)! I’m open to hearing about specific places to stay, parks, monuments, regions, anything, really.
All photos are credited to HerInteractive.
This is one of my personal favorites but I’m heavily biased towards the southwest since I’ve lived here most of the last five years.
Nancy’s friends Bess and George invite her to their aunt and uncle’s ranch outside of Phoenix, Arizona, but when she gets there, she finds out none of them are there and things have been a little fishy. Legend has it, anyone that sets eyes on the phantom horse of Dirk Valentine, an outlaw from the 1880s, will be struck with misfortune and the horse has made an appearance at the ranch.
“You got a steady back home?”
Monument Valley might not be near Phoenix, but the mittens do make an appearance when Nancy is riding her horses, Bob, from place to place. You might even get to see some horses here, but you’ll definitely get to see the mitten rock formations.
I remember the first time I played this, exploring the ruins was probably my favorite part. I loved it. Which was pretty telling since I love visiting ruins in person now and the most impressive ones you can visit to really feel like you’re chasing the bad guy around are at Mesa Verde National Park.
Saguaro National Park
This is more just to see the cactus featured in the game. I haven’t been to the park yet, but I saw saguaros for the first time in real life this summer and I’m OBSESSED! They were all over the hills along the Interstate around Phoenix, so if you can’t make it to the park, Phoenix will suffice.
This is another one of my favorite games because I love Latin America and ruins, but I loved this game before I loved those things. For some reason though instead of going to Mexico, it’s just at a museum.. in Washington D.C. Either way, I love it.
Nancy is an intern at the Beechill Museum in Washinton D.C. that is dedicated to Mayan history and culture that will be unveiling a new monolith soon. But before the opening, a precious jade carving of King Pacal is stolen and the thief leaves behind only a red handprint. Now Nancy is playing intern and detective to find out who the culprit is.
“Semper ubi sub ubi!”
Instead of just going to a museum, you could see the real Palenque ruins which are brought up throughout the game quite a bit. Palenque is in Chiapas, but if you can’t make it there, you can visit other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan for a similar experience, like Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza. Tikal in Guatemala and Cahal Pech in Belize are two other great options.
If you want to feel like Nancy the Intern herself, visit the Mayan Museum of Cancun! Here you can see artifacts and archaeological sites, just like in the game, though these archeological sites are legit and actually in Mexico.
This game TERRIFIED me as a kid. You’re learning a lot about me in this post, but I’m kind of afraid of dogs (depends on the dog before you come at me for this) and the beginning of this game certainly did not help that fear.
Nancy is off to visit her friend Sally, whose father just bought a cabin that used to be a prohibition-era residence for the gangster Mickey Malone and his dogs. However, on the night Nancy arrives, Sally flees the property thanks to a pack of dogs with glowing eyes that attack the house every night and are rumored to be the ghosts of Malone’s dogs who disappeared into the woods the night he died, never to be seen again. It’s Nancy’s job to uncover Mickey’s past amid rumors of buried gold.
“Do you smoke? ” “Only when I’m on fire!”
The woods here remind me of the woods in the game. But probably less confusing. I’m not sure if I mean Great Smoky Mountains National Park here or just the Appalachian Mountains in general. Probably the whole range and certain parts could be better than others, like the Pisgah National Forest. It does take place in Pennsylvania, so it’s not too far off.
The drive to Posey Lake doesn’t particularly remind me of the game, but the lake certainly does! It’s not exactly like the game, but it’s a quaint little mountain lake with a campground. There is no cabin on the lake, but it’s got the right feel.
This is another classic and favorite, not just for me. This is one of the best cozy, rainy day games, especially since it takes place on the Washington coast. Grab your rain jacket and hit the beach!
George’s friend Katie Firestone invited Nancy to visit for a whale-watching excursion, but when Nancy gets there, she finds Katie’s boat has been vandalized. A note threatening Katiee to “stop meddling!” was left behind after she ruffled feathers in the community when a female orca appeared in the channel and the town was trying to decide what to do. Now it’s up to Nancy to get to the bottom of it while uncovering secrets of the town.
San Juan Islands
This is a pretty spot-on locale for the game since it takes place on the coast of Washington. You’ll be able to go boating, whale watching, and kayaking all while relaxing in sleepy fishing villages. Maybe you’ll even find some bomb clam chowder.
Shi Shi Beach
Wanna go dig for those clams? Better hit the beach! Well, you may not be able to do that on Shi Shi Beach but it will feel like you’re right in the game. Bring along some buckets so you can make your very own sandcastles and make sure to check out the critters in the tidepools!
This is yet another fan (and personal) favorite! Most of it does take place on a train (hence the name) but you do get to explore a little tourist mining town towards the end. I love the whole setting of this, especially the mining cart ride.
Nancy and the Hardy Boys join the star, Lori Gerard, on a train trip through Colorado (or Nevada maybe) with the best detectives and researchers to uncover the history of the original train owner, Jake Hurley. One day in 1903 the train showed up in Blue Moon Canyon, Nevada with only a dead engineer on board and no Jake Hurley. As soon as the train leaves, Lori disappears and it’s up to Nancy to uncover the truth.
““I get your drift, Joe. I have lived with your drift for years. I am saddled with your drift.”
Specifically, the Ghost Town Museum. This place feels like the town, if you can call it that, of Blue Moon in the second part of the game. But darker. Nearby Garden of the Gods may also give you some of those desert vibes before flying through the mines in a cart.
Now for the really cool part, a train hotel! That’s right. You can stay in a Victorian-style converted train car. The train cars themselves aren’t too much like the game, but the 1901 room definitely feels like you could be on the train. There are actually quite a few converted train car Airbnbs, too.
This one is, uhh, less loved by the fans (and me) for a few reasons, but for me: frass. For those of you who don’t know: bug poop. It’s also just not quite as great as it could be and Frank and Joe look quite strange, but it’s definitely one of the games I’d love to be in, minus the frass sorting, of course.
This time Nancy goes to Hawaii as a research assistant to Dr. Quigley Kim while a devastating scourge is destroying the local pineapple crop. Residents thing Kāne ‘Ōkala, a legendary man killed in a volcano, has been woken up by a secretive research compound as he now wreaks havoc on the Big Island. When Nancy arrives, she finds Dr. Kim’s camp ravaged and Dr. Kim herself, missing. She runs into the Hardy Boys who are on their own top-secret mission and they must solve the mystery together.
“We’re gonna be famous Nancy! And with any luck, rich as heck!”
There are three main areas to explore in this game and the first is the jungle as we look for Dr. Kim’s camp. Now, you probably won’t be looking for a research camp on your trip, just a jungle to explore, and the Manoa Falls Trail is perfect for that. It’s that dreamy jungle trek with a rewarding waterfall at the end.
Now for the beachy part of the game! I love this part, especially looking for shells, which makes sense since I love shelling IRL. At first, I had the North Shore of Oahu for this, then I was looking at the game and thought duh, the Seychelles! They are home to some of the best beaches in the world that also happen to feature massive boulders, just like in the game. Better save for this one though since they aren’t the most budget friendly.
Hawai’i Volcanos National Park
Finally, the volcanos! Now, actually seeing lava may not be the easiest (or happen at all) but you can still explore the volcanos of the park for fun without having to face down the bad guy.
This is one of three games I have yet to finish (thanks a lot Fox and Geese!) I do love the atmosphere of it though and will finish it eventually.
This time Nancy goes to Alberta, Canada to investigate a string of suspicious accidents at the Icicle Creek Lodge. At each accident, a white wolf is spotted, then disappears when the police arrive. When Nancy arrives, an explosion is set off destroying the bunkhouse and a mysterious wolf howl follows. Nancy has to solve this mystery before all the guests leave and Chantal, the owner, is left in the cold.
Side note: I’ve played Fox and Geese approximately 500 times and I’ve won once. Just this last winter. Once. But by then I forgot everything that happened in the game before that so I basically have to start over.
“Talking with him is like talking with a giant turnip”
I LOVE the Tetons in winter and think this is a great place to feel like you’re in the game. Plus, you can even spot a wolf if you’re lucky! The Gros Ventre Slide area really feels like the game with a massive frozen lake, but the Flagg Ranch area (peep Jackson Lake covered in snow on your way there) is perfect for the seclusion.
This could, I guess, be included in the above, but I’m keeping it separate. Stay in a cozy mountain cabin or lodge room here, but don’t worry, you won’t have to clean them. Turpin Meadow Ranch and Hatchet Resort are two other great cozy mountain lodges that will give you serious Icicle Creek Vibes (minus the Fox and Geese).
This is generally the fan least favorite thanks to a horrible underwater sudoku puzzle, cheeky monkeys, and a terribly obvious suspect. However, the atmosphere is quite dreamy and it’s a place I’d love to go myself.
“Fruit! Coucou want fruit!”
This first one is actually perfect because the game takes place in the Bahamas which is where you’ll find the sleepy island of Eleuthra. My mom always wanted to go here when I was in high school to just read on the beach and I thought it sounded so boring but now I’m practically packing my bags. You can relax on the beach here and not have to worry about playing games with monkeys for any reason.
Why Cuba you ask? Rock climbing of course! Vinales is one of the best places to do that in Cuba and when I recently replayed this one, it’s the first place I thought of when we have to scale the cliff while monkeys drop stuff on us. No worries of that here, either.
I LOVE this game. It’s creepy. It’s difficult. It takes a long time to finish. AND it’s set in Kyoto, which I love. The atmosphere of this game is perfect and I love pachinko. Also, I actually like the picture frame puzzle.
Nancy is teaching English in Kyoto this time when she comes to Japan with her two best friends, Bess and George. As usual, once she gets there, things aren’t quite what they seem. Guests are being scared away by strange events supposedly being caused by a woman that died there. All the guests are gone and Nancy is left with the secretive family that owns the ryokan while trying to get to the bottom of it all.
“Get a job you lazy phone charm!”
Any Ryokan will do, I suppose, but when I was looking at them I actually thought wow, that looks like it’s right out of the game! Ryokans are not cheap, but it would be so worth it to actually get to stay in one.
This is a must-do on any trip to Japan. Pop into a super bright, neon pachinko parlor with music blasting and hope you can figure out the machines. I tried but it was super confusing. I did love walking past them all the time though. We also have a super old pachinko machine (not an electronic one) at home that I always used to play!
Just like in real life, the subway system in the game is SO CONFUSING. It always takes me forever to get anywhere for the first time, which also happened every time I tried to use it when I was in Tokyo. It’s an adventure though and can be frustrating but is fun, especially wandering around Tokyo Station. You can visit the ramen street and a Kit Kat shop.
I feel pretty neutral about this game. I didn’t understand that monsters game in it AT ALL but I played it a lot when I didn’t know what else to do. It’s a cool setting though, and one I would love to go to in real life (again).
Castle Finster has been terrorized by a legendary monster for centuries but may lay dormant for years before claiming its next victim. So far, every victim has been a young woman wearing a particular necklace. The castle owners have called Nancy in to get to the bottom of the monster.
“Wow, I do no care about that problem”
When we get to the castle, it’s kind of like a little walled-in village, but smaller. Well, Rothenburg is just that, but bigger! This was one of my favorite places in Germany. You get the old German village feel and can walk around the town on/in the wall that surrounds it.
Visit the Cloister Museum to see some cuckoo clocks with your very own eyes when you go visit the Black Forest. You can visit castles or get out and hike. Don’t worry. It looks a little less creepy than the forest in the game.
I enjoyed this game a lot but know it’s pretty hit or miss among the fans. I do love Egypt though. I think it’s so fun exploring the tombs and all the passageways in them. Plus, aliens and Sonny Joon.
An ancient tomb was uncovered in a sandstorm sixty years ago outside of Cairo and a British team set off to hopefully find the legendary Lost Queen, but they all disappeared and were presumed dead. Now, Nancy joins a team of archaeologists to uncover the presumed tomb where the team disappeared, however, the site is said to be cursed thanks to an increase of suspicious accidents that Nancy has to get to the bottom of.
“Break out the tissue Papyrus because when I’m done there won’t be a dry Horus in the house!”
Pyramids of Giza
While the pyramids aren’t actually featured in the game, it’s implied and being at them will definitely make you feel like you’re in the game. The open desert around here and near Cairo will be pretty close.
This is what will really make you feel like Nancy: any of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. I don’t think there is one that won’t make you feel like Nancy uncovering the secrets of the Anunaki.
This is another fan favorite for a lot of reasons: the story, the atmosphere, the creepiness, and Harper. While I don’t love the cemetery hunt, I do really enjoy this one. It’s a really good rainy day game.
Jessalyn Thorton and her best friend came out to Thorton Hall for a pre-wedding celebration, but the fun ended when Jessalyn disappeared. Her friends and family are now scouring the island for her when Nancy is called in By Savannah Woodham, a paranormal investigator from Shadow at the Waters Edge. A skeptic is needed to set aside the paranormal paranoia and uncover the mystery ahead.
“Wouldn’t that be funny? Not funny haha but funny “ahh, help I’m in a well””
Cumberland Island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia with building ruins, wild horses, and Spanish moss-covered Live Oak trees. Throw in some ghosts, a missing person, and a creepy little cemetery and you’ve got Blackrock Island.
The cemetery in the game reminds me of the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia so much. Which makes sense since it takes place in Georgia, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is what it was based on. While you’re here, make sure to stop by Books on Bay to check out the Nancy Drew selection!
This is one of my favorites. I remember being so scared when I first played this, especially once I got into the moving rooms and was lost. The atmosphere is so fun and Ethel is pretty creepy. Plus, there’s a bird.
Nancy is going to England this time to visit Linda Penvelly, the wife of a British diplomat and her neighbor’s daughter. She lives in a 14th-century manor and is being plagued by a strange malady keeping her behind a curtain. Is she hiding from something or is something more menacing stalking her?
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”
The first room I saw here reminded me so much of Janes’s room! This would be the perfect place to stay to get some Blackmoor Manor vibes. It even has Moore in the name, so that means it’s pretty much destiny, right?
Want to explore a conservatory without the fear of being eaten by Mrs. Drakes’s giant plant? Head to the New York Botanical Garden! This will definitely make you feel like you’re in the manor conservatory without having to fix a fountain or sort plants so it will be much more relaxing.
Do you play Nancy Drew Games? Which is your favorite? Anywhere you would add to this list or places you’ve felt like you’re in a game IRL?