Wednesday, September 9, 2015

LDS Church History Tour Itinerary and tips for planning!

So, if you've been anywhere near me in the last few months or follow me on Instagram, you are well aware that we just completed an epic road trip in order to visit a majority of the historical sites that are sacred to the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I've had so many people ask me for my itinerary so I thought I'd record it here, along with a few tips.  I'll probably record more details of each spot in the coming weeks here, as well, but I wanted to have a quick reference for people who are interested in how we did it!

We had planned on flying to New York, but as we looked into the logistics of renting a vehicle big enough for 8 people AND dropping it back off or paying the extra fees, it just made so much more sense to drive to New York and back.  Truly the best decision we made, I 100% promise.

TIP #2:
In preparation, I began looking for websites that had good info on how to do a church history tour and I really couldn't find much.  I did however find these books: The LDS Family Travel Guide.  I LOVED them.  It was so nice to have a hard copy in front of me, with basic maps and timing suggestions and tips and directions.  I used it to plan and I took it on the trip.  It's a little dated but that really wasn't an issue.  I just used it as a guide and then used google, maps, yelp and phone calls to fill in the rest. I also really liked the basic background the books gave on each site. We used them in family home evening lessons before the trip and read them aloud as we drove to the sites during the trip.

TIP #3:
We used hotels (thanks to some discounts from my dad, the two rooms we needed were less pricey!) and  I LOVE airbnb so much.  It's a really affordable way to lodge a family of 8 especially in bigger cities.  It's the first place I've looked for any trip I've taken in the last year.  Feel free to ask questions about where we stayed in the comments.

Spiritual preparation really helps if you want to have the best experience.  We held a family fast the fast Sunday before we went, asking Heavenly Father to bless us to feel His Spirit and to help us deepen our testimony of the restoration of the Gospel.  We also assigned each child to an area of the trip and asked them to present pictures, stories and outlines about what we'd see each place and had them give their presentations in family home evenings prior to leaving.

Okay...onto the schedule.  I'm including my cross country drive because it was just so cool, but obviously it will all be different depending on where you live.

Day 1: Leave Spokane and drive to Billings, MT (7.5 hour drive)
Day 2: Drive to Theodore Roosevelt National Park  (4 hour drive).  Explore for 2-3 hours.
            Drive to Fargo ND (4.5 hour drive)
Day 3: Drive to Walnut Grove MN; visit Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (3.5 hour drive). Stay 2 hrs.
            Drive to Chicago, IL (8 hour drive)
Day 4: Explore Chicago (Boat ride, Doughnut Vault, Art Institute, the Bean, deep dish pizza)
            Drive to Sandusky OH. (4.5 hours)
Day 5: Visit Cedar Point Amusement Park for 7ish hours.
            Drive to Rochester NY. (4.5 hours)
Day 6: Visit Sacred Grove, Smith family farm, Hill Cumorah, Grandin printing press
Day 7: Visit Peter Whitmer Log home, hike Watkins Glen State Park Gorge
Day 8: Drive to Niagara (2 hours) Visit Niagara Falls. 4-5 hours needed.
            Drive to Ohio (3.5 hour drive)
Day 9: Visit Kirkland visitor center, Kirtland temple, John Johnson farm.
Day 10: Visit Isaac Morley farm. Drive to Valparaiso, IN. (4.5 hr drive)
Day 11: Scrap plans to visit Indiana Dunes State Park (dumb rain). Drive to Springfield IL (3.5 hr
             drive.) Visit Lincoln's Tomb, Abe Lincoln Presidential Museum for 4-5 hrs. Drive to Nauvoo,      
             IL. (2.5 hour drive)
Day 12: Spend the day at Nauvoo.
Day 13: More Nauvoo, Carthage Jail, Nauvoo temple baptisms.
Day 14: Drive to Kansas City, stopping at Adam Ondi Ahman. (4.5 hour drive)
**here you could do Independence MO sites and Liberty Jail...we'd already done that a few years ago.
Day 15: Drive to Denver CO (8.5 hour drive)
Day 16: visit Breckenridge CO, hike Flatirons
Day 17: Drive to Salt Lake City (8 hour drive)
Day 18: Drive back to Spokane (10 hour drive)

So that's how we did it.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime.  I'll spend the next few posts talking about each place in detail, should you want more information.


Rebecca said...

That is a FULL itinerary! I can't wait to read more details!

Katie said...

This is so great and helpful, thank you!!

Nurse Graham said...

I've already heard about the trip, but I'm looking forward to hearing about it all over again.

Jeanelle said...

I've been loving all of your trip reports! And when your kids are grown and you need someone to go on a road trip with you - call me.

M M Designs said...

I was hoping that someone would post an itinerary like this. My family of 6 are taking this trip next summer. A couple of questions: did you need passports for Niagara Falls, and could you tell me if there was anything that you would change? Thank You

Jessica said...

You do not need passports for the American side. Many people told me the Canadian side is much prettier so if you have passports, bring them. In W Canada we've gone across the border with birth certificates and drivers licenses so you could call and ask if that works there too. I really can't think of a thing I'd change. You can get further details if you check my blog for the posts on each location. Thanks for visiting! Good luck!

M M Designs said...

I noticed in one of your other posts that you said we could ask about your lodgings. I would be very interested to know where you stayed in Chicago, Sandusky, and all the church history sights. Thanks!

Jessica said...

For some reason, blogger is not letting me reply directly to this comment/question, so I hope you see it!
In Chicago we used airbnb and LOVED our accomodation: It was a basement apt on N. Rockwell Street (Logan Square area) in Chicago. It was 5-10 min walk to the Metra and it was a 10 min ride from there into downtown. Great location, large, clean, great owners.
In Sandusky, we stayed in a little house (through airbnb) about 30 minutes from the park. I would not recommend it, so I won't tell you about it.
In Palmyra we stayed at the Microtel By Wyndham in Victor‏, NY. It was a decent place, and a good location. Only 20 minutes from church sites and well located for the Finger Lakes area which we also explored.
For Kirkland we stayed in at the Hampton Inn and Suites Beachwood. It was 15-20 minutes from Kirkland and a great location.(Our favorite hotel of the whole stay, yummy breakfast!).
For Nauvoo we stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites in Keokuk Iowa. Decent place and best location, other than IN Nauvoo, you can find...20 minutes from Nauvoo.
Hope this helps! You'll need to come back and tell me if/when you do the trip and tell me how it went!

Janet Martinez said...

Approximately how much did this trip cost? I really like your itinerary. Thank you so much for sharing!

Loyal Cook said...

Such a great blog and I so much appreciate it. I would love to know if you ever wished you had taken an RV? I'm wondering if we should drive or rent an RV, for the experience. Also, I did see that someone asked about how much this trip cost you, if you don't mind sharing. I know it was a while back, but any insight would be awesome.

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