Are you headed to Salt Lake City soon? Don't miss these wonderful LDS sites at Temple Square! At first site, you may think Temple Square only encompasses a few buildings but there is so much more. From the fountains and gardens to the historic buildings, be sure to schedule a full day to see all Temple Square has to offer.
Wondering where to park when you get there? There are several parking lots nearby as well as street parking available. Some of stores validate as well so if you plan on shopping, be sure to ask. The nice thing about Temple Square is you can walk everywhere you need to go so you may even want to take the Trax into downtown Salt Lake City.
Be sure to plan enough time to see all Temple Square has to offer. While you can quickly walk through without stopping, if you want to take in all the sites, plan to stay at least half a day. If it is your first time, I recommend an entire day. In addition to the places listed below, you will also discover beautiful gardens, statues, and water features throughout the square.
This beautiful historical building often gets overlooked as it's tucked in one corner of Temple Square. It has beautiful spires and windows. Inside it's similar to the tabernacle in that there are rows of wooden benches and a stage. You can find weekly devotionals held by LDS Business College, concerts, and other events here throughout the week. Take a minute to read more about it on the sign outside then step inside and enjoy the history.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir still holds concerts in the Tabernacle on a regular basis (watch Music and the Spoken Word every Sunday morning). You can also find all sorts of other performances throughout the year. If you have time to step inside you can ask the missionaries questions or sit and enjoy whatever practice is going on at the time. Note the pipes for the organ while inside too. Fun fact- the dome-shape of the Tabernacle is so acoustically sensitive that a pin dropped at the pulpit can be clearly heard at the back of the hall, 170 feet away.
Salt Lake Temple
Of course the whole reason we have Temple Square is for the Salt Lake Temple. You can walk around the temple, take photos on the steps, and touch its walls. There is usually a wedding party nearby too so watch out for those photo shoots! Remember to take your family's photo by the temple too- try in front of the reflection pool, at the pedestal up the path a bit, or on the steps to the temple doors. If you do walk up to the doors, remember to take a minute to appreciate all the craftsmanship.
If you are staying to do a session in the temple, you can park in the Conference Center parking lot. The Salt Lake Temple still does live sessions so plan a little extra time just in case. The entrance to the Salt Lake Temple is to the north of the temple.
Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Across from the temple, you will find the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, once Hotel Utah. The inside of this building is absolutely beautiful- look up and all around. There is a cafe on the main floor as well as missionaries waiting to help you. Reserve a seat in the Legacy Theater to see "Meet the Mormons" or one of the new additional stories. At the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building are two restaurants and observations deck. Head up to get a new perspective.
The Beehive House is just down the street from the main part of Temple Square. Walk east past the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and you'll run into it. This is where Brigham Young lived. Everything is historically set up so you can see how he worked and lived. Missionaries will take you a tour through the house. The sign says 20 minute tour but I've found it depends more on the time of year, your group dynamic, and the missionaries taking you through. Our tour was 10 minutes. Be sure to ask your tour guides how this house got its name.
In between the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the Beehive House is the Lion House (there are lion statues on the outside). It's a great place stop for lunch- especially if you have the Salt Lake Connect Pass which includes one lunch or dinner there. It was built in 1856 by Brigham Young. Discover more about dining at The Lion House Pantry and other restaurants around Temple Square.
Church Office Building
The Church Office Building is one of the tallest buildings around Temple Square. You will find several water features in front and if you go inside, you can take the elevator to an observation deck on the 28th floor. It's higher than the one in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building so you'll be able to enjoy the view of the whole valley from there.
Don't miss visiting the Conference Center while in Salt Lake City. Your children will love that they have actually been inside the building they see on TV every 6 months and you can see some amazing art. You may already be familiar with some of the art as a smaller cropped form is available as visuals for church lessons, however, the full sized, complete work will leave a new impression on you. To get the most out of your tour, ask your tour guide lots of questions. Each guide has different stories to tell. You can walk through the main level of the Conference Center by yourself but if you want to get to the roof, you need to go with a tour guide (plus it's more fun with a guide). The roof of the Conference Center is made to look like Utah did before it was settled. It's beautiful.
Find out what events taking place at the Conference Center and throughout Temple Square on the events page.
Family and Church History Libraries
At the Family History Library there are two million rolls of microfilmed records to help you on your family history journey. This is a great place to dive in and get the help you need especially when you hit that roadblock. Many records are being indexed now but there are still a lot more to go. The Church History Library contains records documenting the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members.
The Church History Museum is a fun place to take the whole family. It's located on the west side of Temple Square- you'll see a log cabin next to it. If you have kids that need a break to play, head to the second floor in the back. There is a whole children's play area- make an origami seagull, climb on the blocks, and do all sorts of puzzles. There is a lot to explore overall here so be sure to schedule enough time into your trip. We loved pretending to speak from the Tabernacle's old podium and seeing the Angel Moroni statue up close. Check the events page for a Family Home Evening or other activity that you can participate in as well.
There are two Visitor's Center on Temple Square. If you haven't been to one before or it's been awhile- go. You can find models and interactive displays to learn more about the scriptures, Salt Lake Temple, and Temple Square. Don't miss the Christus in the main Visitor's Center either. There are a few presentations the missionaries can take you through as well. When we drove through to go to my Grandmother's funeral we went through the presentation about families. It was such a great way to bring home the message of eternal families. The Visitor's Center is also a great place to stop for the restroom and cool down on a hot day.
Relief Society Building
Most people don't make it inside the Relief Society Building. It's one of the smaller buildings on Temple Square but don't underestimate it; there is plenty to see. This building was built with the donations of women around the world in 1956. In the basement you can discover more about Primary, Young Women's, and of course, Relief Society. Note- there is only a women's bathroom in this building- don't worry though, the Visitor's Center isn't far away.
Salt Lake City Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center
These two are not on Temple Square but you can find the shuttle to get there by the west entrance. There are a limited amount of tours a day so be sure to plan ahead of time. A tour at the Humanitarian Center lasts 45 minutes allowing you to take a peek at how a worldwide organization like this operates. Welfare Square is composed of a towering grain elevator, large storehouse, bakery, cannery, milk-processing operation, thrift store, and an employment center. You may even get to try a free sample.
Off Temple Square
Looking for fun off of Temple Square? Here are a few more places to keep in mind.
If you are visiting while the weather's still warm, head across the street to City Creek Mall. There are plenty of fountains and splash pad to help the kids cool down and restaurants to fill your bellies. It's almost impossible to keep your kids dry if you head this way (the fountains are really tempting) so remember to pack extra clothes.
If you have the Connect Pass, there are more places near Temple Square that you can visit such as the Planetarium and Discovery Gateway. I have not been to either so I can not give any recommendation but it's worth a look.
Put This Is the Place Heritage Park on your definitely do list while in Salt Lake City. Not only do you learn more about the rich history of Salt Lake City but you will have plenty of outdoor family fun. Get your hands dirty with pioneer chores and games, learn how they make yarn, and make some crafts of your own. You can pan for gold, enjoy some old fashioned donuts, and cool down at the splash pad. There are even pony rides. You will easily spend all day here. Be sure to check out their calendar of events to see when other fun events are taking place too.
Thanksgiving Point is south down in Lehi. It's a great place to enjoy with the whole family. If you already have a season pass to your local museum, see if it is apart of the ASTC Passport Program. If so, you will be able to enter all of Thanksgiving Point with your current card. There are also a few places at Thanksgiving Point that are included in the Connect Pass.
There is a lot to discover at Thanksgiving Point so plan wisely. We did a little bit each day we were in Utah. You can head to Farm Country to ride the ponies, dig for dinosaur bones in the Museum of Ancient Life, or let your kids run around the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Looking for something more peaceful? Ashton Gardens is one of my favorite places. If you have little ones that won't make the entire trek through this huge space, rent a golf cart. We love the Secret Garden and the Mountain Garden although they now have opened the Light of the World Exhibit which looks pretty neat too.
There is always Brigham Young University to visit as well. Walk the grounds, see a show, enjoy some ice cream at the Creamery, admire the art at the Museum of Art, or stop by the Bean Museum to explore the animals. On your way out of town, stop by the Provo City Center Temple. It's not quite as big as Temple Square but it has it's own unique history that makes this temple a great one to walk around.