Nauvoo LDS Temple

Tips for Visiting Nauvoo LDS Church History Sites

Historic Nauvoo is an amazing place to visit. Last spring was our family’s first time exploring this charming little pioneer city. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (you can find out more about what we believe here) and Nauvoo has a lot of significance to us, but I didn’t really know what to plan for. Would this be a trip our young kids (ages 6,8 and 11) would enjoy? Would it be worth the long drive? It it worth visiting even if you’re not a member of the LDS church?  YES. YES. and YES!

You can explore more than 30 historic sites from the 1840s when early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established Nauvoo on the banks of the Mississippi River. Nearly everything is free (only the Community of Christ sites charge a preservation fee- more on that below).  The closest thing I would compare this to is This is the Place Park in Salt Lake City, another pioneer themed ‘park’ except pretty much all of Nauvoo is the park! Ha ha!

How much time do you need to see everything?  We would say to plan for a full 2 days to see everything in Nauvoo. Certainly you could stay longer, though! Plus keep in mind that nearly everything closes at 5pm. As mentioned above, there are over 30 sites to visit. And in the Summer there is the Nauvoo Pageant. More on the pageant here. Unfortunately, we missed out this but would love to go back during the summer sometime to see it!

What is it like visiting each site?  Well, some you get to walk through, like the Browning Home and Gun Shop pictured below. You can see what homes would have looked like during the mid 1800s and hear how these pioneers lived and worked.   And other sites you listen to a very brief (5 minute) history, significance & demonstration of the site (like the Bakery and Brickyard). A few even will have a little ‘souvenir’ for you to keep…or eat (for free!). Our kids stay engaged the entire time! Truly- it was amazing. I was a bit surprised how much we all loved it!

When is the best time to visit? Certainly there is a lot going on in the Summer, but there is something year round. We went the end of May. It wasn’t very busy at all (definitely ‘off peak) and had a wonderful time. It was warm and humid during the day (already in the low 80’s!) but cooler at night. It was tornado season, which made the drive home….interesting. Haha!

What were some of our family’s favorite spots to visit?  Well, let us show you below!


We were so touched by the Brickyard- and we almost missed it. I’m so glad we didn’t. The brief history completely had our kids engaged and then at the end to get a real brick, made right there, was priceless! Definitely add this to your stop!



Again- it was fascinating to hear the significance about this little Bakery. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was so cool to hear about the Bakery’s connection to the Nauvoo Temple. And our kids loved the cookie at the end!






We loved visiting the printing press and it reminded us of when we visiting the Book of Mormon printing site in New York.  So much work went into printing papers and books. It was also fun to hear why we have uppercase and lowercase letters.


…and there are several others! For a complete list of the many historic sites, visit the Official Nauvoo website here.  Definitely plan on visiting the Family Living Center to make candles, bread and rope too. All for free!!



The kids loved these free rides! They are at separate locations and you do need a ticket for each ride (since space is limited). The free tickets are available inside the LDS Visitor’s Center. The oxen ride was short (and bumpy!- a lot of sympathy to those pioneers lucky enough to cross the country in one).


The horse drawn carriage ride was quite a bit longer, filled with many pioneer stories. If you suffer from allergies, be sure to take allergy meds! 🙂



We loved visiting this beautiful temple and loved that we could spot it nearly anywhere in Nauvoo!


This was such a beautiful walk. We loved reading journal entries from many pioneers when they left Nauvoo- the faith to leave behind this precious city in search of more. I can’t even imagine.  A few of our favorite entries are posted below.






The Community of Christ owns a few properties in Nauvoo and charges a $4 per person preservation fee to tour the Mansion House.





Form more information about these sites, click here.



Let me give you a peak at downtown Nauvoo-

Yep! This charming city is still quite small and not that close to other cities, either.  The nearest Wal-Mart is 30 minutes away in Keokuk. So plan for food accordingly! There are several shady spots that would be perfect for a picnic if you do swing by a grocery store.

We tried a couple places out while we were there that reminded us of the Lion  House-think home-style cooking- (and if you’ve never eaten at the Lion House, well- you should! It’s in Downtown Salt Lake City on Temple Square).


We really liked Grandpa John’s for lunch and thought the prices were very reasonable. The kids liked the buffet (you can choose to order alacart as well). There was something for everyone!



This is a charming hotel that also has a dinner buffet in the evening. Again, easy to please kids with so many options because there is something for everyone!


Hill Cumorah Statue

Palmyra LDS Church History Sites

There are so many amazing and beautiful sites to see in Palmyra. Much of the information can be found directly on, but if you’re wondering if this should be part of your stop when visiting the East Coast–our answer is 100% yes! We are still in awe. Our young kids– ages 10, 7, and 5 at the time of our trip–were little sponges (and not just because of the rain!), they absorbed so many little details about the humble circumstances surrounding Joseph Smith and his family. We pulled into our hotel late at night and began our day of touring bright and early the following morning.

We had four stops in Palmyra:

  1. The Smith Family Farm (including The Sacred Grove and homes surrounding it)
  2. The Grandin Print Shop (Publication Site of the Book of Mormon)
  3. The Palmyra LDS Temple
  4. The Hill Cumorah

We also toured the Peter Whitmer Farm just outside of Palmyra. All sites are free to tour, all are family-friendly. Hours vary, so be sure to plan accordingly. We LOVED going in early October, as you can see the leaves were gorgeous!

Our first stop was the Smith Farm Welcome Center, where some darling missionaries (members of our church who volunteer their time to serve others) took us on a tour of the two homes and property nearby. We walked through the Log Home first. Find hours here.


Log Cabin Smith Home Palmyra New York Log Cabin LDS History Site Log Home LDS History Site

LDS History Site Log Cabin Kitchen Sacred Grove behind Log Cabin

Pictured above left, the dining room/living room/kitchen in the log home. Pictured above right, our children looking out through the Smith family log home’s back door at the Sacred Grove.

Sacred Grove Trail in Palmyra, New York

Sacred Grove  Sacred Grove  Walking through the Sacred Grove

Walking through the Sacred Grove

The Sacred Grove was beautiful and peaceful. After touring their humble–perhaps crowded–log home, it was easy to see why Joseph chose the Sacred Grove as a place to ponder and pray vocally for the first time. For more information about the Sacred Grove, visit the official site here.

Sacred Grove Palmyra Temple View

Pictured above, view of the Palmyra Temple, peaking through the trees (look closely!) near the Sacred Grove.

Smith Home Palmyra New York

We also toured the Smith Frame Home, a short walk from the Log Home.  This was a slightly larger, and more modern home (pictured above)–but still humble. Our kids loved seeing the many different places where Joseph and his family hid the Golden Plates from the angry mob (pictured bottom left).

Joseph Smith hid Gold Plates here  Dining Room inside Log Cabin

Alan Smith Farmhouse Alan Smith Farmhouse Bedroom LDS Church History Palmyra New York

Palmyra New York LDS Church History Site

We spent about three hours touring the Smith Family Farm, although you could spend more or less time depending on your schedule. There are restrooms throughout, we would suggest to make sure to use them before walking through The Sacred Grove–especially with young kids 🙂

Palmyra LDS Temple

Not far from the Smith Family Farm is the Palmyra Temple. We enjoyed walking around the beautiful Temple grounds. (To see a list of all six Temples we visited on our trip, visit here.)

EB Grandin Print Shop

We had so much fun touring the Grandin Print Shop as well. Another pair of darling missionaries gave us and another family a tour of the building where the Book of Mormon was first published. Find hours here.

Grandin Print Shop  EB Grandin   Egbert GrandinGrandin Print Shop

This cheery space is where the free tour starts. We also learned about E.B. Grandin and the process to print a book back then–what a miracle it all was. It was a very engaging (and hands-on at times) tour! For more information on why the Book of Mormon is so special to us, visit here.

Grandin Print Shop  Grandin Print Shop  Grandin Print Shop

Book of Mormon Come Forth Grandin Print Shop Grandin Print Shop

History of Uppercase, lowercase Grandin Print Shop

Book of Mormon Manuscript  First Edition Book of Mormon

We spent a little under two hours on this tour, but again–you could spend more or less depending on your schedule. The charming antique shops nearby were also fun to visit (think Milk Glass!).

Peter Whitmer Farm New York

While this isn’t technically in Palmyra, we were SO glad we drove the 40 minutes to tour the Peter Whitmer Farm, where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was officially organized on April 6, 1830.

Peter Whitmer Farm Dining Room Peter Whitmer Bedroom

Peter Whitmer LDS Church Visitor Center Peter Whitmer Farm, New York

While there we had the chance to view a short film (about 5 minutes) in the visitor’s center called The Grove. Take time to watch it! This is the only place you can see it, as it’s not available online. What an inspiring visit! We spent just under an hour here.

Hill Cumorah

The Hill Cumorah took our breath away with its beauty! When we arrived it was pouring rain, so we watched a new segment from ‘Meet the Mormons‘ in the Visitor’s Center, talked with the missionaries and learned more about what took place in this sacred spot.  Find more on the hours and location here.   During the summer there is also a free pageant here (oh how we want to come back in the summer for this!). Find more information on that here. We spent about two hours here, but again you can spend more or less depending on your time frame. It is also a short, steep walk to the top. However, you can also drive up a bit closer if needed.

Hill Cumorah Statue Hill Cumorah Freedom and Faith

Our visit to Palmyra was near the very end of our our two week East Coast trip- more on that here. We were walking up to the statue at the top of the hill and the wind was blowing. We looked up and saw this- the American Flag and the statue of  Angel Moroni- and just thought how fitting this picture was- FREEDOM and FAITH- everything we hold near and dear culminating right here. It was a perfect way to wrap up our trip.


Yellow Mills Diner Palmyra, New York

Oh- one last thing: Lunch! Some of the locals suggested we try Yellow Mills Diner for lunch and it was so yummy. The service was great and we love eating local in a family-friendly environment.


We also visited the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Sharon, Vermont. Read more about our time there here.

Joseph Smith Birthplace

Birthplace of Joseph Smith {Sharon, Vermont}

Nestled in the hills of Vermont, the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith was born in the beautiful countryside of Sharon, Vermont.  The Birthplace is free to visit and has a Visitor’s Center with a monument (pictured below) that commemorates the Prophet’s life. For location and hours, visit here.  It was a bit out of the way during our two-week East Coast trip last October, but were SO glad we made time to visit.

Joseph Smith Birthplace Joseph Smith Birthplace Joseph Smith Birthplace Joseph Smith Birthplace

We were greeted with a light gust of wind that sprinkled hundreds of golden fall leaves on us. It was a beautiful way to begin our tour.

Joseph Smith Birthplace

Joseph Smith Memorial visitor's center joseph smith book vermont

Our kids were excited during the brief tour inside the Visitor’s Center for a couple of reasons- in the picture to the left, the Prophet was seven years old, the same age as our daughter, when he had a leg operation. In the picture to the right, our son was excited to see a book written about the Prophet Joseph Smith by his great-grandpa on display.

Joseph Smith Memorial statue in Sharon, VT

The grounds were absolutely beautiful and peaceful to walk around. We were so glad we took time for this hour long visit. To learn more about the significance of the Joseph Smith Birthplace, visit here.


We also visited other LDS Sites in Palmyra, where the Prophet moved to after Sharon. Read more about that here.

Washington DC Temple

Six LDS Temples to visit on the East Coast

As part of our family-of-five-East-Coast-frenzy, we had the opportunity to visit several LDS (sometimes also known as Mormon) Temples. These Temples represent so much to us, but the most  important thing is that represent family’s can be together forever (and yes, even after spending two weeks-every hour, every minute with each other- we still want to be together forever, haha).  Some of the Temples have Visitor’s Centers, some didn’t. We would walk around the beautiful grounds and always have our kids touch a corner of each Temple. Sometimes we would pick up a leaf or acorn to keep, other times a potato bug (roly poly to some-haha, those didn’t get to come in the rental car, though).  In total, we were able to visit six LDS Temples that are on the East Coast of the United States, from Washington D.C., up to the brand new, and long awaited, Hartford, Connecticut.

Connecticut LDS Temple Philadelphia LDS Temple Palmyra LDS Temple

{Pictured from left to right: Connecticut, Philadelphia, Palmyra.}

Manhattan LDS Temple Boston LDS Temple Washington DC LDS Temple

{Cont…Manhattan, Boston and Washington D.C.}


This Temple is absolutely gorgeous. The grounds are peaceful and beautiful to walk around. You feel like you are in the middle of a wooded forest. You may first notice this Temple from the freeway as you are heading into the city. The six spires, especially when they are lit up at night, are breathtaking.

Washington D.C. Temple

DC LDS Temple DC LDS Temple

Washington D.C. LDS Temple Christus LDS DC Temple

DC LDS Temple Visitor Center DC LDS Visitor Center

There is a wonderful Visitor’s Center where anyone (member or not) can visit. Here you will see a mini-replica of the Temple- allowing you a peak of how the Temple looks inside.


The main reason for our trip, and what inspired it many years ago, was the announcement of the Hartford, CT Temple. It took many years for this Temple to come into fruition. Jeff served his LDS Mission in CT and RI and we knew we wanted to come for the Open House (when a Temple  is brand new, there is a public open house where anyone, of any religion or age, can take a tour and get a peak inside).  The detail was amazing- true to Connecticut’s colonial heritage.  If you would like to see the official pictures- including many of the interior, visit here.

Connecticut LDS Temple

Connecticut LDS Temple Connecticut LDS Temple


This is also a brand new Temple, right in the heart of Philadelphia. We missed the Open House for this by a few weeks, but you can view official photos of the interior here. There is also a small Visitor’s Center just across the street from the Temple.

Philly LDS Temple Philly LDS Temple


For more LDS Sites on the East Coast, read our post on Palmyra here.