13 vacation destinations Mormons love


Quality family time is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And if family game night is becoming mundane, why not take your quality time on the road?

Here are 13 popular travel destinations with special significance to members of the Church.

1. Upstate New York


(Photo by Breanna Olaveson)

Distance from Utah Valley: 2,023 miles

Main attractions: Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, city of Palmyra

Must-see for Mormons: Smith Family Farm and the Sacred Grove; Hill Cumorah Pageant; Grandin Print Shop

Fun fact: The Palmyra New York Temple was the 100th announced temple and sits on the east end of the original 100-acre Smith Family Farm.


2. Ellis Island, N.Y.


(Photo by Breanna Olaveson)

Distance from Utah Valley: 2,193 miles

Main attractions: Immigration Museum, nearby Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island

Must-see for Mormons: Port of New York Passenger Records, for family history buffs

Fun fact: Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.


3. Washington, D.C.

(Photo courtesy dctemplelights.lds.org)

(Photo courtesy dctemplelights.lds.org)

Distance from Utah Valley: 2,096 miles

Main attractions: The National Mall, Smithsonian Institution, National Archives, Arlington National Cemetery, The White House, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Must-see for Mormons: Washington D.C. Temple lights, memorials relating to family history, LDS-related exhibits at Smithsonian Institution, National Archives (to see documents that granted citizens religious freedom)

Fun fact: Then-First Lady Betty Ford attended the public open house of the Washington D.C. Temple, along with 758,327 other guests.


4. Nauvoo, Ill.

(Photo by Breanna Olaveson.)

(Photo by Breanna Olaveson)

Distance from Utah Valley: 1,265 miles

Main attractions: Carthage Jail; Historic homes, including that of Joseph and Emma Smith; Nauvoo Illinois Temple

Must-see for Mormons: Summer entertainment, including “City of Joseph” Pageant and the British Pageant: “Truth Will Prevail” (for 2014 season)

Fun fact: The Nauvoo Illinois Temple houses the largest temple baptismal font in the Church.


5. Mesa, Ariz.

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 633 miles

Main attractions: Local museums and archaeological sites

Don’t miss: Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant “Jesus the Christ”

Fun fact: The script for the Mesa Easter pageant is taken directly from the King James Version of the Bible.


6. San Diego, Calif.

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 706 miles

Main attractions: San Diego Zoo, Sea World

Don’t miss: Mormon Battalion historic site

Fun fact: The Mormon Battalion’s 2,000-mile march from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to California is one of the longest military marches in history.


7. Laie, Hawaii

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 2,984 miles

Nearby attractions: Honolulu (including Waikiki Beach), Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, North Shore, Diamond Head

Must-see for Mormons: Polynesian Cultural Center, BYU-Hawaii campus, Laie Hawaii Temple grounds

Fun fact: Headquarters of the Hawaiian Mission were in Laie until 1919, when they were moved to Honolulu.


8. Manti, Utah

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 81.1 miles

Main attractions: Manti Utah Temple, Mormon Miracle Pageant

Must-see for Mormons: Mormon Miracle Pageant

Fun fact: Manti was the first community that was settled outside the Wasatch Front after the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.


9. St. George, Utah

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom.)

(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 259 miles

Main attractions: Little Colorado River, remaining dirt trail

Must-see for Mormons: St. George Temple, Brigham Young Winter Home in St. George

Fun fact: The round trip from Arizona settlements to the St. George Temple sometimes took up to six weeks.


10. Martin’s Cove, Wyo.


(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 365 miles

Main attractions: Mormon Handcart Historic Site, Martin’s Cove Visitors Center

Must-see for Mormons: Mormon Handcart Historic Site, Martin’s Cove Visitors Center

Fun fact: About 100,000 people visit Martin’s Cove every year.


11. Tulum, Mexico

(Photo via public domain.)

(Photo via public domain)

Distance from Utah Valley: 2,892 miles

Main attraction: Mayan Ruins, tropical beaches

Must-see for Mormons: Mayan Ruins, which are thought to have possible ties to Book of Mormon peoples.

Fun fact: The three major structures at the site are called “El Castillo,” the “Temple of the Frescoes,” and the “Temple of the Descending God.”


12. Preston, England


(Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

Distance from Utah Valley: 4,696 miles

Main attractions: Local parks, museums and celebrations

Must-see for Mormons: River Ribble (where the first LDS baptisms in England were performed), Preston England Temple area. (Pageant moved to Nauvoo for 2014)

Fun fact: The England MTC is located in Preston, adjacent to the Preston England Temple.


13. Jerusalem, Israel

(Photo via public domain.)

(Photo via public domain)

Distance from Utah Valley: 7,025 miles

Main attractions: Western (Wailing) Wall, Garden Tomb, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock

Must-see for Mormons: Garden Tomb, Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, BYU Jerusalem Center

Fun fact: Apostle Orson Hyde was the first LDS official to enter Jerusalem in 1841. When he came, he dedicated the land for the gathering of Judah, the building up of Jerusalem and the building of a temple.


Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.


  1. AvatarNina Jones Reply

    We toured Tulum. To really understand the purpose and symbolism, one must go with an LDS Tour Guide. It was the most amazing experience….life altering, actually.

  2. AvatarJulia Reply

    I’m surprised Liberty Jail in Missouri isn’t on here. I would think that would be pretty high on the list.

  3. AvatarBoyd Reply

    A much closer, and great pageant is the Martin Harris pageant in Cache Valley. Great story that has significant importance to the Church and the members.

  4. AvatarVaLynne Stoddard Reply

    I have been to all of those on the list except #6 – Mormon Battalion Site in San Diego (I’ve been to San Diego but totally forgot about the memorial!), #11 – Tulum, Mexico, #12 Preston, England. My son went with the Boy Scouts to Preston, England in 2006. He loved the trip. And they are all places I want to go too! I would love to return to the Holy Land.
    I have also been to the one Boyd suggested, the Martin Harris Pageant, I strongly agree with him that it is a great pageant of great importance to the Church and members.
    I also agree with Julia. No one should miss Liberty Jail, I have been there a number of times and feel the spirit of the “Prison Temple” every time!

  5. AvatarPaul Reply

    Can’t believe you left off Kirtland. It is more important than any other. The first temple of this dispensation. Newell K. Whitney store, the recently purchased Joseph Smith Home, the Morley farm. This is the real “birthplace” of the Doctrine and Covenants. The organization of the church, organization of the priesthood,, appearance of Elijah, Moses, Elias. restoring the keys for the fulness of the gospel. Also, multiple appearances of the Savior(See: The Savior in Kirtland by Karl Ricks Anderson)the ancient apostles from Adam to Peter. I am at a loss why this isn’t on every member’s bucket list. Some of my most spiritual experiences have occurred when visiting this area .especially the John Johnson home in Hiram where the 76 section of the Doctrine and Covenants was given. More church history can be learned visiting these sites than any other that I can think of.

  6. AvatarGuyFromWineCountry Reply

    Don’t know how the author gathered these sites, but I am sure they reflect her tastes more than strictly Universal Mormon tastes. After all, why wouldn’t a Mormon living in, say, Canada, want to take a vacation to see Salt Lake City’s Temple Square? (These are very Utah-looking-outward-style choices.)

    Some other must-see sites that I am disappointed were not included, personally, are the Priesthood Restoration Site in Pennsylvania, Winter Quarters in Nebraska, and the Hong Kong Temple & Visitors Center.

  7. AvatarLisa W Reply

    The title does not say the TOP, the BEST or the ONLY vacations Mormons love.

    No one says you can’t have other favorites or that an officail poll was taken. Take it as a great list of vacations to investigate and see if you would like the idea for your own bucket list.

    Thanks so much for the ideas.

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