Temple Square in Salt Lake City, is Utah's most popular tourist destination. Part of its appeal lies in its accessibility: three city blocks in downtown Salt Lake City contain nearly 20 attractions related to Mormon pioneer history and genealogy, including the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, and the Family History Library. This means that visitors can see all or most of these attractions in a relatively short period of time.
Note that parking in the immediate downtown area of Salt Lake City is limited and can be expensive. visitors should consider taking public transportation as an alternative to parking near Temple Square; the Utah Transit Authority operates numerous bus routes and rail lines in the Temple Square area.
We have outlined a walking tour below, with an accompanying printable map of the sites, containing what we consider the must-see attractions on and around Temple Square.
Salt Lake Temple
This building is a worldwide icon of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the heart of Temple Square. The massive granite edifice was constructed in a neo-gothic style over the course of an astounding 40-year period between 1853 and 1893; the pioneers who settled the valley sacrificed both time and material goods to the building of the temple, which stands as a testament to their faith and devotion. Please be aware that only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are permitted to enter the temple, but all visitors are welcome to persue the grounds and admire the stunning workmanship of the building and the serene beauty of its immediate surroundings.
South Visitors Center
This building, just south of the temple, contains exhibits on the building of the Salt Lake Temple and on the family. Here you can also view pictures of the temple interior. The Visitors Center is staffed by volunteers who answer visitors' questions about the temple or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
From the Visitor's Center, we recommend walking around the Assembly Hall, the most ornate and colorful building on Temple Square. Built in 1877, the Assembly Hall is used today for free weekend concerts featuring local and international artists. If you happen to visit on a Friday or Saturday evening, be advised that the concerts are free and do not require tickets, although only those eight years of age and older are admitted.
Salt Lake Tabernacle
Home of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Tabernacle, located just north of Assembly Hall, is an architectural and acoustic wonder. The famous organ at the front of the Tabernacle contains 11,623 pipes, making it one of the largest and richest-sounding organs in the world, and the building was constructed so that even the drop of a pin at the front of the building can be heard at the back. The Tabernacle is usually open daily for tours. In addition, the public is welcome to attend choir rehearsals on Thursday evenings and the Music and the Spoken Word broadcasts on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am.
North Visitors Center
Complete your walking tour of the center of Temple Square by stopping at the North Visitors Center, which offers the same hours of operation as the South Visitors' Center. This building is home to an impressive, 11-foot statue of Jesus Christ known as The Christus. Visitors can also view films about Mormon history and beliefs as well as other exhibits and works of art.
Family History Library
From the North Visitors' Center, cross West Temple and go south to the Family History Library, which gives visitors access to the world's largest collection of genealogical resources. If you have time, plan to spend an hour or two researching information on your own ancestors; volunteers are on hand to help you through the process if necessary. The Family History Library is open Monday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Deuel Pioneer Log Home
North of the Family History Library is the Deuel Pioneer Log Cabin, which gives visitors a glimpse into pioneer life. It is typical of the homes built in the Salt Lake Valley after it was settled in 1847, the very first of which was built nearby by William Henry Deuel.
Museum of Church History and Art
Also north of the Family History Library you will find the Museum of Church History and Art. The museum features numerous hands-on exhibits to enhance your experience, such as covered wagons like those used by the original pioneers. A model log home demonstrates the look and feel of some of the first houses in Salt Lake City. Visitors can also see an 1830 edition of The Book of Mormon, as well as historical actors, films, and demonstrations. The museum is open Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and on weekends and holidays 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Located just north of the temple, the Conference Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contains a 21,000-seat auditorium and an 850-seat theater. Free, guided tours of the Conference Center are available daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. During renovation of the Tabernacle, Music and the Spoken Word is recorded here each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (Visitors must be seated by 9:15 a.m.) The Conference Center is occasionally home to other events, so you might want to consider calling (801) 240-0075 for information before visiting.
Relief Society Building
Moving east along North Temple you will come to the Relief Society Building, which houses church offices and a resource center for visitors. The Relief Society is the oldest women's organization in the world and an important part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and focuses on the strengthening of home and family. The resource center, located on the lower level, offers visitors great ideas how to achieve that goal. Hours are Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Volunteer Guides available on Temple Square.
Church Office Building
East of the Relief Society Building is the Church Office Building, administrative center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which claims more than 12 million members worldwide. Standing at 28 stories, the building dominates the Temple Square-area skyline. Visitors are welcome to take an elevator to the 26th floor, which houses an observation deck and is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (5:00 p.m. during summer months).
Brigham Young Historic Park
Traveling east across State Street you will enter Brigham Young Historic Park. This small park was once part of pioneer and Mormon leader Brigham Young's farm. During the summer, the park hosts concerts each Tuesday and Friday evening (8:00 p.m. in June and July; 7:30 p.m. in August). Seating is provided, but you can also bring blankets or chairs.
Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument
South of Brigham Young Historical Park along State Street is the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument, which honors the more than 6,000 pioneers who died crossing the plains between 1847 and 1869. It is also home to the gravesite of Brigham Young, under whose leadership the Mormon pioneers traveled from Illinois to Utah and established a rich society and culture here.
The Christmas season is a great time to visit Temple Square, as hundreds of thousands of lights illuminate the entire block.
Social Hall Heritage Museum
The Social Hall was where the first residents of Salt Lake City gathered to relax, unwind from their labors, be with friends, and enjoy singing and dancing. Today the remains of this building are preserved in a museum which shows a different side of pioneer life. The museum, located half a block south of the Pioneer Memorial Monument, is open from Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.
On the corner of State Street and South Temple is the Beehive House, Brigham Young's mansion residence. The mansion has been beautifully restored and serves as a museum offering tours showing what life was like for the Young family back in 1855. Tours are free and are available Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., beginning every 10 minutes.
Next to the Beehive House on South Temple is the Lion House, another of Brigham Young's residences. Today the building operates as social center and has a restaurant on the street level called the Lion House Pantry, featuring homestyle meals and baked goods. The Lion House is open Monday-Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Church Administration Building
Moving west along South Temple you will see the Church Administration Building. Although it is not open to the general public, it is worth noting that current leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have their offices in this classical-style building.
Joseph Smith Memorial Building
This walking tour of Temple Square concludes at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, located just west of the Church Administration Building. This stately building, originally constructed in 1911, is dedicated to Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and houses several attractions of interest. With free advance tickets (Call 1-866-LDS-TIKS), visitors can view an hour-long film called Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. For dates and times, visit the film's web site. The building also houses the Family Search Center, which offers visitors another opportunity to research the lives of their ancestors with plenty of volunteer help to aid them. Two excellent restaurants, The Roof and The Garden, occupy the top floor of the building, which also offers great views of the Salt Lake Temple other Temple Square attractions. The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is open Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
There are numerous restaurants and cafes on and around Temple Square. The Joseph Smith Memorial Building has two restaurants on its top floor which are local favorites. The Lion House also serves lunch and dinner daily (except Sundays). For more choices, we recommend the the restaurants and food court at The Gateway, which is close to Temple Square.
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