Educational Travel: Is Temple Square Salt Lake City for everyone?

On a recent drive through Salt Lake City, we decided to stop (for the first time) at the city’s famed Temple Squareand it made me wonder: is Temple Square Salt Lake City for everyone? I’ll start with a disclaimer: we’re not of the LDS faith. Because of this, the site does not hold any symbolic or sentimental meaning to us, other than as a significant player in Utah’s rich history. We visited for the purpose of touring the grounds, enjoying the gardens, and glimpsing the beauty of the temple from the outside.

Temple Square salt lake city

That said, we were underwhelmed. We absolutely missed some sites (and if any were must-see’s, please inform us in the comments) but we did hit the visitors centers, the home of the Tabernacle Choir, the Museum of Mormon History, and the meetinghouse adjacent to the Temple. I’d describe myself as quite informed about the Mormon religion, so the information in the visitors centers did not provide me with any significant new information, and overall, I expected the museum to feel more educational (in an historical way) than promotional. I was disappointed in this regard, as I hoped to inform my kids about Mormon history more so than Mormon theology. Perhaps this was an unrealistic expectation, as I certainly assumed religious content would play a big role.

The garden grounds were pretty and peaceful, but not inspiringly so, and while the temple itself is pretty, it simply didn’t hold the interest of my kids (who, again, have no emotional connection to it). I can see how a visit to Temple Square could be quite meaningful to an LDS family, and to anyone at special times of year (such as Christmas, when I hear it really shines), or if we’d had the chance to hear the choir, but on an average weekday, the detour to see the square fell flat.

Temple Square Salt Lake City

Based on this experience alone, I suggest going to Temple Square Salt Lake City during the following times or under the following circumstances:

1. If it holds emotional, spiritual, or historical significance for your family.

2. During a special event, or to catch a musical performance. The Tabernacle Choir rehearses every Thursday at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 9:30 am. There is an organ concert three times daily.  Seasonal events would also be well worth the visit.

3. If you plan to spend some time researching your family history (we did not delve into this aspect of the square).

If you do go, you’ll enjoy the following family-friendly amenities:

1. Plenty of space for your kids to stretch their legs and play quietly (within reason).

2. Clean and ample bathroom facilities and drinking fountains.

3. Good dining options.

Date last visited:

June 2013

Distance from the interstate:

Five minutes from I-80

Admission cost:

Free.

Hours of operation:

Check website.

Directions:

From I-80, take 600 So (I-80 exit), following the downtown Salt Lake City/Temple Square signs.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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