Summer fun, learning found at Temple Square and beyond

Folks living along Utah’s Wasatch Front haven’t stowed their cold weather gear just yet. Snowflakes are still falling — doubling as reminders of a wet, tenacious winter.

But the calendar assures that summer is just weeks away. For many Latter-day Saints living in Utah and across the globe, the promised sunshine means it’s time to start planning visits to free-admission Mormon tourist sites in Salt Lake City.

Temple Square

Historic Temple Square remains the Beehive State’s most popular man-made tourist destination. The corps of sister missionaries who speak a variety of languages is evidence of the site’s appeal to people from around the world.

This summer there are a variety of activities and displays for visitors on the grounds of the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle and the Temple Square visitor’s centers as well as at neighboring LDS buildings such as the Conference Center, the Church History Museum and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Start first by downloading the planning guide at It offers a complete list of things to do on the 35-acre square, including cultural events, dining options and genealogical research.

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building’s Legacy Theater continues its tradition of screening the popular “Meet the Mormons” documentary — including several new stories and faces that have been added to the original 2014 film.

Visitors need not view the entire film. “Meet the Mormons” is now featured in 20-minute segments.

“The Heavens Are Opened” exhibition anchors the Church History Museum — offering visitors a singular glimpse at the life of the Joseph Smith and the story of the Restoration.

Visitors can walk a few steps to the nearby Church History Library and experience the “Foundations of Faith Exhibit.” The exhibition utilizes some of the Church’s most treasured documents to tell the story of the restoration of Christ’s church.

Got a few more hours? Several other LDS-themed sites are just a short drive away and offer additional opportunities to better appreciate the Latter-day Saints experience. Individuals and families can learn more about, say, the Mormon Pioneers or the Church’s welfare program by revisiting these beloved sites, or enjoying them for the first time.

Welfare Square

Located a few miles west of Temple Square at 780 West 800 South, this iconic facility includes a 178-foot grain silo, a bishop’s storehouse, a bakery, a cannery, a milk processing operation, a Deseret Industries thrift store and an employment center.

Each building signals the Church’s commitment to “care for the poor, foster self-reliance, and provide meaningful opportunities for work and service.”

Visitors can take a missionary-led tour of Welfare Square that includes an interactive exhibition that tells the story of the Church’s humanitarian efforts across the globe.

Call 801-240-4872 for tour information.

This Is the Place Monument

Brigham Young died 140 years ago, but the pioneer-prophet still enjoys a “presiding” presence over the Salt Lake Valley. Statues of the Church’s second president and two of his fellow pioneers and priesthood leaders, Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff, stand atop the towering, 71-year-old This Is the Place Monument.

Located near the mouth of Emigration Canyon, the granite structure commemorates the 1847 arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.

The monument also honors the Native Americans, trappers, Spanish explorers and others who played key roles in the settlement and development of the greater Salt Lake area.

Mormon Battalion Monument Plaza

May is Military Appreciation Month in the United States, so it’s an apt time to visit this relatively new, heroically sized bronze tableau that pays tribute to the faithful members who answered their country’s call to duty.

The plaza is just a few steps below This Is the Place Monument and is a testament to the faith and sacrifice that defined the women, men and children in the often tempestuous early days of the Church.

Formed in 1846 at the beginning of the Mexican-American War, the volunteer Mormon Battalion remains the only religiously based unit in U.S. military history.

Other tourist-friendly Church sites located near Temple Square include the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum and the Salt Lake City Cemetery, where some of the most influential figures in Church history are buried — including 11 Church presidents.

[email protected] @JNSwensen