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What To See In Nauvoo? (Once The Largest City In Illinois)

What To See In Nauvoo? (Once The Largest City In Illinois)

Nauvoo is a charming small town in Hancock County, Illinois, situated on a bend in the Mississippi River. The town was once the largest city in Illinois in the mid-1800s, serving as the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the hometown of its founder, Joseph Smith Jr.

Some top attractions include the Nauvoo Temple, the restored homes of early Mormon settlers, the Joseph Smith Historic Site, and the Nauvoo State Park. Visitors can also enjoy various outdoor activities, such as hiking and boating.

Today, Nauvoo is a tourist destination, attracting visitors worldwide to experience this unique community’s rich history and culture. This article explores some of the top attractions in Nauvoo.

Nauvoo Illinois Temple

If you’re looking for a unique and historically significant structure to visit, the Nauvoo Illinois Temple is worth considering. Despite being destroyed twice, once by fire in 1848 and again by a tornado in 1850, the temple still stands on a three-acre site with an impressive total floor area of 54,000 square feet.

Exquisite hand-drawn murals accompany its stunning architecture in several rooms, such as the Creation Room, World Room, and Garden Room. Notably, the Terrestrial and Celestial Rooms do not feature mural paintings. 

While public tours of the temple are unavailable, visitors can still explore the grounds and appreciate the majesty of the temple’s enduring presence.

Nauvoo Visitors Center

To begin your exploration of the historic city of Nauvoo, a visit to the Nauvoo Visitors Center is highly recommended. This center serves as the gateway to the city’s numerous wonders, offering a range of activities for visitors to enjoy.

Inside the center, visitors can explore exhibits, view the diorama of Old Nauvoo, and participate in free guided tours. Alternatively, visitors can obtain a brochure and embark on a self-guided city tour. The Nauvoo Visitors Center also offers live entertainment in its theater, with short films at various times of the year.

In addition, the center boasts a Monument to Women garden, providing a tranquil space for visitors to take a relaxing walk. 

Nauvoo State Park

Nauvoo State Park is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a peaceful and historically rich location. The park spans approximately 148 acres and boasts a beautiful 13-acre lake ideal for recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy hiking and biking trails, fishing and boating, and camping, among other things.

In addition to its recreational offerings, the Nauvoo State Park also provides opportunities for visitors to learn about the region’s history. For example, the park hosts an annual grape festival, which offers insights into the area’s agricultural past. 

Overall, the Nauvoo State Park is an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing camping spot or an enjoyable day trip for families

Click on the link to watch a few highlights of the place:

Historic Nauvoo, Illinois

Baxter’s Vineyards & Winery

Baxter’s Vineyards & Winery, founded in 1857, is the oldest winery in Illinois. Over the years, the Baxter family has earned a reputation for producing award-winning wines by cultivating grapes on their 16-acre vineyard, which boasts 13 grape varieties.

Visitors can enjoy a range of red, blush, and white wines that span the spectrum from sweet to dry, catering to all palates. Additionally, the winery offers a gift shop where wine enthusiasts can purchase various accessories, including wine-making supplies, cheese and spreads, bread, and wine cups.

Joseph Smith Historic Site

When you travel to Nauvoo, there are numerous historical sites to explore, and the Joseph Smith Historic Site is one of them. Recognized for its significance to the city, the site was added to the Nauvoo National Historic Landmark District. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Latter-Day Saint Movement, resided at this location alongside his father and son.

Joseph Smith’s Past

In 1839, Smith and his fellow Mormons founded the town of Nauvoo after being forced out of Missouri. Despite the swampy terrain, Smith directed his followers to dig a canal to construct homes, shops, schools, and a temple.

However, conflicts arose with residents, leading to Smith declaring martial law and eventually being killed by a mob while in jail. Brigham Young took over as leader and decided to relocate the group to Salt Lake City, ending the skirmishes between the church and local militias.

The Joseph Smith Historic Site currently features a visitor center containing displays and objects that narrate the tale of the initial religious pioneers.

Nauvoo Cultural & Masonic Hall

Discover the historical significance of the Nauvoo Cultural & Masonic Hall by joining a tour led by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Located on Main Street, this three-level building was constructed in the 1840s and has served various purposes throughout its history, including meetings, funerals, and theatrical productions.

Today, the church takes care of the building and offers free tours seven times a week. With its rich history and diverse tour options, the Nauvoo Cultural & Masonic Hall is a highly recommended attraction for visitors who wish to learn more about this significant landmark.

Family Living Center

The Family Living Center is a renowned family-friendly attraction within the city, offering an enjoyable and educational experience for individuals of all backgrounds. Visiting the center, guests can observe the lifestyle of the 1840s by walking through a replicated home from that time.

Furthermore, exhibits at the museum illustrate how individuals from 1839 to 1836 prepared food, dressed and conducted their daily lives. The center features a variety of engaging presentations, including candle making, bread making, pottery, rope making, and spinning. Visitors can participate in these activities, such as rope-making, during their visit.


Nauvoo, Illinois, offers visitors a rich history and cultural experience. Once the largest city in Illinois, it has several attractions, including the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, Nauvoo Visitors Center, Nauvoo State Park, Baxter’s Vineyards & Winery, Joseph Smith Historic Site, Nauvoo Cultural & Masonic Hall, and Family Living Center. 

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, history, or entertainment, Nauvoo has something for everyone.