To be perfectly clear, unlike faiths where a pilgrimage to a religious site is a requirement, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called Mormons, believe that Jesus Christ is powerful enough to save anyone who believes in Him and follows His gospel. That being said, there are many places where members of The Church of Jesus Christ can witness where important events occurred, and learn more about their faith. In compiling the list, I tried to avoid putting two locations that are particularly close. If you visit the Sacred Grove, for example, you should probably cross the street and catch the Smith family farm, but I tried to focus on the highlight of each place. For those who can, here are ten places every Mormon should visit before they die.
10) Mormon Battalion Monument in San Diego
Any excuse to visit beautiful San Diego, California is a good one. Monuments, such as this one to the Mormon Battalion, can be found across the western United States commemorating the Mormon pioneers who founded many of those cities. But the Mormon Battalion Monument may just be the best of them all. The attached visitor center details an important, but often under-told story, which greatly impacted the pioneers as they travelled to the Salt Lake valley.
9) Your extended family
Whether it’s travelling four states away to visit your Great Aunt Sue, or travelling half a world away to see your ancestral homeland, a family history vacation can be great for parents and children alike. Since family is so important to Latter-day Saints, learning more about what it means to be a member of your family can be a wonderful learning experience. While there, take the time to search through the local records as you search for your ancestors.
8) A church pageant
Latter-day Saints love a show. Across the United States several church-sponsored pageants, or outdoor plays, are held. The biggest and most impressive is in Palmyra, New York, but there are others often at points of historical interest. The locations can change. These pageants are big and fun, and are a must see experience for any family.
7) Mars’ Hill
In addition the hill’s importance in Greek mythology, and the ideal Athenian weather, Mars’ Hill is the location of one of Paul’s most important sermons. In this sermon, found in Acts 17, Paul taught of our relationship to the one true God, and condemned idolatry.
6) Chichen Itza
While there is no archaeological evidence that specifically connects any Meso-American sites to Book of Mormon sites, many Latter-day Saints may find Chichen Itza inspiring for its beautiful architecture, and its many allusions to who some believe is Jesus Christ.
Nauvoo may be the closest thing that exists to a Mormon amusement park. The Church has restored a number of buildings from the period when the early Saints lived there including a bakery, blacksmith shop, and of course, the temple.
4) Sea of Galilee
Walking where Jesus walked is certainly impressive, but imagine seeing where Jesus walked–on water. The Sea of Galilee is home to many of Christ’s miracles, and an essential stop for anyone trying to understand more about the life of the Savior.
3) Temple Square
Temple Square in Salt Lake City is more than just history. This is where church headquarters and the conference center are still operating. With a museum and two visitor centers, Temple Square is a wonderful place to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ. The Salt Lake Temple, far and away the highlight for those who can attend, is one of the few temples with live actors performing, a unique opportunity worth experiencing once. Sixteen million tourists are drawn to Temple Square each year, putting it at the top of great American places to visit.
2) Sacred Grove
Walking through the Sacred Grove feels like walking into a Thomas Kinkade painting. Soft footpaths wind through the white aspen trees. Every time you turn the corner you think, maybe this is the very place where God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared. The grove is large enough that it is easy to find secluded spots for contemplation even during the busiest times.
1) The Garden of Gethsemane
If you find yourself in Jerusalem there are surely many places you will want to visit. But make sure to carve out some time to visit the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Latter-day Saints who believe Christ suffered there for the sins of everyone who believes in Him and follows His commandments. Experiencing the place where the most important moment of human history occurred can be humbling.