Washington D.C. The Washington D.C. Temple will feature its Festival of Lights from November 30 through January 2. Each night there will be a live nativity scene and two musical or dance performances. Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy Christmas films as well as the new film, Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration.
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, located near the National Mall in downtown D.C., tells the history of the rise and fall of the Nazis and the treatment of Jews during Holocaust. The exhibit includes over 900 artifacts, seventy video monitors, and four theaters documenting historic film footage and eyewitness testimonies. Each visitor receives a booklet of one survivor or victim and is encouraged to read more about that person’s life. The museum is recommended for visitors over eleven years of age, and there is also a children’s exhibit. Admission is free, but tickets need to be reserved ahead of time. First time visitors are recommended to spend two to three hours on the self-guided tour
- If you’re feeling patriotic, take a drive to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate. Head eight miles south to Alexandria, then continue another eight miles to Mount Vernon. This Georgian style home was built by the Washingtons in 1735 and served as President Washington’s home for forty-five years. Now a National Historic Landmark, Mount Vernon is surrounded by gardens and forty acres of woods. You can take a tour of the restored mansion which still houses much of the original furniture and family relics. Take a walk around the grounds and enjoy the view of the Potomac River. Mount Vernon is open daily and free for visitors.
- Take a monument tour through our country’s capital to wrap up your trip. Bus tours are easy to find throughout the downtown area and cover a wide range of monuments. Don’t miss the highlights: the Arlington National Cemetery, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Also, make a stop at the World War II Memorial, the newest addition to D.C.
Need a Place to Stay?
- The Hilton Silver Spring is just two miles from the Washington, D.C. Temple and a ten-minute metro ride to the city. Each room is well furnished and decorated with the best materials. The hotel also has two restaurants and live jazz. Rates start at $179.00.
- The Ramada Limited Silver Spring is just three miles from the temple and eight miles from the city. Guestrooms have wireless Internet access and cable TV. The hotel also offers a complimentary breakfast and guest laundry facilities. The average rate is $117.00.
- Just seven miles north of downtown Washington, D.C., the Days Inn at Silver Spring is a less-expensive alternative to lodging in the area. The rooms are air-conditioned and have cable TV and Internet access. The hotel also has a pool. The rate for a standard room is $65.00.
Salt Lake City, UtahThe famous Christmas lights at Salt Lake City’s Temple Square are scheduled to be turned on the day after Thanksgiving. The nearby assembly hall hosts different performances each evening at 5:30. There is also a live nativity scene in the courtyard for visitors to enjoy. Don’t miss the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on Sunday, December 3, or the annual Christmas concerts featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, and the Bells on Temple Square held Thursday through Saturday, December 14–16. The performance on December 14 will be a dress rehearsal beginning at 8:00 p.m. And the performances on December 15 and 16 will begin at 7:30 p.m.
- Kennecott Copper Mine is the world’s largest man-made excavation, located in the Oquirrh mountains, just twenty-eight miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The mine is so large that it can be seen from space shuttles. It’s also ranked as the second largest copper producer in the United States, providing fifteen percent of the nation’s copper needs. Check out the visitors’ center, which has interactive exhibits, 3D models, historical pictures, and a fourteen-minute documentary about the mine. Kennecott is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Cost is $4 per car.
- You can’t come to Utah and not ski. You’ll find the best snow up Little Cottonwood Canyon at Snowbird and Alta Ski Resorts. For the 2005–2006 season, Skiing magazine ranked the neighbors as the number one resort in the United States for the fourth straight year. Snowbird in six miles up the canyon and hosts both skiers and boarders; Alta is just another two miles up the road and is for skiers only. If you’re traveling from the airport, take I-80 east to I-215 southbound. Get off at Exit 6 (6200 South) and head east then south. The road veers east and takes you right up Little Cottonwood Canyon.
- Located on Temple Square, the Family History Library is the largest genealogical library in the world, with over two billion names on file. People of all faiths and countries visit the library. You can even take the names you find across the street to the temple. The library is open on Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday until 9:00 p.m.
- The Grand America Hotel, located in downtown Salt Lake, is considered the “Best Hotel in Utah.” With its world-class spa, indoor and outdoor pools, the Grand America offers you a luxurious stay. There is also twenty-four-hour room service, a complimentary airport shuttle, and a fitness center. During the Christmas season, one night goes for around $300.
- The Hilton Salt Lake City Center is less than three blocks from Temple Square and a short walk from three downtown shopping centers. The rooms come with high-speed Internet access, great city views, down comforters, and pay movies. The hotel is also home to an indoor lap pool with indoor and outdoor decks. Rates start at $159.00.
- The Inn at Temple Square is right across the street from Temple Square and offers great views of the temple from nearly every room. Rooms come with complimentary high-speed Internet access, cable TV and movies for rent, and spacious bathrooms equipped with plush terry cloth bathrobes and oversized towels. A standard room costs $99.00 per night.
The Oakland Temple lighting ceremony takes place on November 25, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The temple’s cultural arts committee will set up “The Days of Christmas,” performances of choirs, singers, and dramatists. Every evening throughout the season, there will be activities to add a bit of holiday spirit. Also be sure to enjoy the Temple Hill Choir, a live nativity scene, and special dance groups.
- One of the world’s best chocolate shops anywhere is located across the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Head to Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc. in the Ferry Building Marketplace. Scharffen Berger specializes in dark chocolate made with the finest ingredients. They boast unique flavors made from beans taken from different regions around the world. With a wide variety of chocolate to match any taste, Scharffen Berger chocolate may help to calm tourist anxiety.
- The Oakland Museum of California is dedicated to the state’s art, history, and environment. Known for its beautiful architecture, the museum includes natural history dioramas, an art gallery, and exhibits spanning the history of California. Travel in time from the pre-European world of native peoples, to the technological world of today. Located on 10th and Oak Street, the museum is a great place to learn about the heritage of California. Prices are $8 for adults and $5 for students. Go to museumca.org for hours.
- Visit Old Oakland, also known as Victorian Row, where buildings date back to the 1860s and 1880s. Take a short walk around the two square blocks and admire the simplicity of the past. On Fridays, buy some veggies at the Farmers’ Market then head over to the Housewives’ Market at Jefferson and 8th Streets for a range of ethnic foods. For dinner visit Rattos, an Italian deli located on 827 Washington Street, where waiters sing the “Pasta Operas” on Friday and Saturday nights.
Need a Place to Stay?
- The Courtyard by Marriott Oakland Downtown is located in downtown Oakland, just one block from China Town. The hotel features an outdoor pool, hot tub, and fitness center. The rooms come with high-speed Internet access, cable TV, and pay movies. The average price is $189.00.
- Just five miles from the Oakland Temple, the Rose Garden Inn is set among rose gardens near the University of California, Berkeley. The rooms are individually decorated with antique-reproduction furniture and fireplaces. The hotel has a buffet breakfast and free cookies throughout the day. The rates start at $127.00 per night.
- The Jack London Inn is located in historic Jack London Square, just half a block from the bay. The hotel has a complimentary continental breakfast and a lobby work station. Rates are $76.86 per night.
London, EnglandChristmas lights at the London Temple grounds are turned on December 1. Choral performances are free to the public on the five days leading up to Christmas. There is also a nativity scene and extended temple hours for patrons.
- After the morning rush, catch a matinee at the Palace Theatre, located at Cambridge Circus on Shaftesbury Avenue. This ornate building once housed the Royal English Opera House. It became a music hall for many of England’s famous performers and survived the London air raids during World War II. Now, the theater is a popular site for musicals, such as The Sound of Music and Les Miserables.
- If you love antiques, London is the place for you. Take the tube to the London Bridge stop for one of the world’s best flea and antique markets, the Bermondsey (New Caledonian) Market, located on Long Lane and Bermondsey Street. The market attracts serious collectors, antique dealers, and haggling tourists from all over the world. Antiques range from silverware to paintings and furniture. Year round, dealers open their stalls at dawn on Fridays, so make sure to be there before 9:00 a.m. for the best bargains.
- Take a trip through two thousands years of history on a Thames River boat ride. You’ll pass by several of London’s important landmarks, such as the Houses of Parliament, The Royal National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London. No matter what time of year you visit London, the boat rides will be running. The tour guides offer a historical overview during your ride as well as discounts for family groups.
You can see the Christmas lights and the beautiful nativity scene in the garden at the Copenhagen Temple starting from the beginning of December. If you’re planning on visiting the temple, remember to bring your own attire since this temple doesn’t rent clothes.
- Remember the fairytale The Little Mermaid? Copenhagen is famous for its statue of Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid) at Langelinie on the harbor. The small statue was erected in 1913 to commemorate Hans Christian Andersen’s story. Since then, thousands have come to Copenhagen to see the girl and remember the story’s Danish history.
- Vor Frue Kirke, or The Church of Our Lady, is famous for its statues by Bertel Thorvaldsen (who did Christ and the Apostles). The small church near Copenhagen University is home to the famous Christus statue, which served as the original for the Christus statues in LDS visitors’ centers. Also, the funerals of Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard were held in this locale. The church is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Need a break from sightseeing? Walk to the Tivoli Gardens, the world-famous gardens and amusement park in the center of Copenhagen. Since its founding in 1843, some 270 million people have visited the gardens. Enjoy the variety of flowers, the merry-go-round of Viking ships, and the classic Ferris wheel. There is also an Arabian-style palace to visit. If you’re around for the weekend, don’t miss the changing of the guard at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Starting the day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas lights at the Mesa Arizona Temple will be one of the main points of interest in the Mesa/Phoenix area. A pool reflects the temple and lights for an ideal Christmas picture, and there is a special program each night.
- The Mesa Southwest Museum is Arizona’s premier museum of cultural and natural history. It boasts the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the state. Besides checking out the fossils, visitors can search for lost treasure, pan for gold, and visit a Spanish mission. Travel through Dinosaur Mountain, the Native Peoples gallery, and many other exhibits, until you reach present-day Mesa. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Prices are $4 for kids and $8 for adults.
- If you’re feeling up to par, go golfing at Dobson Ranch Golf Course. Arizona is known for its excellent golf courses and Dobson Ranch is no exception. The eighteen-hole championship course features mature landscaping and large greens. The course is challenging, but enjoyable, and available for play for just a small fee. Dobson Ranch is located a short drive from the Mesa Temple. Just head south from the temple to US-60 West toward Phoenix. Take the Dobson Road exit and drive until you get to 2155 South Dobson Road. Schedule your tee time a week in advance by calling (480) 644-2291.
- There’s no better way to end the day than to cool off with a paddleboat ride on the Desert Belle. This paddleboat chugs through Saguaro Lake, just thirty miles northeast of downtown Mesa, and takes visitors on a ninety minute ride. On the way, you can see wildlife, spanning canyon walls, and beautiful desert vistas. Pick a private and public tour, both running at 12:30 Wednesday through Saturday during the winter months. For more information, go to saguarolake.net.
Need a Place to Stay?
- The Phoenix Mesa Marriott is right next to the Mesa Temple and adjacent to Mesa’s Centennial Center. The rooms include high-speed Internet, video game consoles, and satellite TV. The hotel also offers a fitness center, outdoor pool and spa tub, sundeck, and a restaurant. Prices start at $159.00.
- Just half a mile from Fiesta Mall, the Fairfield Inn has an outdoor pool and spa tub. Rooms also come with cable TV and pay movies, as well as high-speed Internet access. The average price is about $109.00.
- The Days Inn Mesa is just four miles from downtown Mesa and one mile from Golfland-Sunsplash Water Park, a great place to take the kids for a relaxing day. The hotel also has a swimming pool, spa tub, sauna, and fitness room. The rooms come with wireless Internet access, cable TV, and a complimentary breakfast. Rates start at $75.00.
Los Angeles, California
The lights turn on Saturday, November 25. On the grounds you’ll find an interactive nativity scene with live animals and inside the visitors’ center is a collection of Christmas trees and nativity scenes from around the world. Also, throughout the entire month of December, you can enjoy musical numbers from professional groups as well as stake and ward choirs.
- For a quick bite to eat, make a stop at Sweet Lady Jane, one of the world’s best patisseries. Located on Melrose Avenue, this bakery has a menu that ranges from sandwiches made from rosemary bread to L.A.’s best brownies. Also, try a bite of their lemon meringue tarts and flourless chocolate cake. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- Just twenty minutes away from Los Angeles is one of the world’s top ten gardens. Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge is a paradise with more than 100,000 plants and one of the world’s largest collections of camellias. Be sure to see the Japanese garden and the International Rosarium, home to thousands of roses from countries around the world, and the kids will love riding the Descano Gardens Enchanted Railroad on a mini-diesel train. Visit descanso.org for more information.
- If you’re wandering around Hollywood Boulevard, don’t forget to stop by the Hollywood Wax Museum, one of the most popular locations in the city housing hundreds of lifelike wax sculptures of celebrities and other well-known figures. The museum is open everyday from 10:00 a.m. to midnight. You can buy tickets online at hollywoodwax.com.
Need a Place to Stay?
- The Century Wilshire is a hidden European-style treasure in a trendy neighborhood. The hotel features a garden courtyard, outdoor pool, and Continental breakfast. The rooms are all individually decorated with traditional furnishings from the 1950s. The average rate is $171.43.
- Just eight miles from LAX, the Royal Palace Westwood provides a complimentary breakfast and shuttle service. The guestrooms include balconies or patios and high-speed Internet access. Prices start at $104.00.
- Right next to the temple, the Travelodge Los Angeles West is five miles from the Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, and UCLA. Rooms come with refrigerators, and cable TVs. Guests are treated with a complimentary continental breakfast and free parking. Rates go from $74.00 per night.
Christmas lights turn on December 13, with a choir performance and possibly some local civic leaders to help flip the switch. Be sure to see the nativity scene and the visitors’ center.
- After seeing the lights, take a side trip to Rotorua, a city a little over an hour southeast of Hamilton. Take the kids to various playgrounds, including the Lakefront Volcanic Playground, or take a walk on any part of the city’s sixteen miles of trails. There are also botanical gardens with bubbling mud pools. Rotorua is a good place to learn more about the Maori culture, with several exhibits of different sheep breeds and woodcarving demonstrations.
- If you choose to travel north rather than south, take a trip to Auckland. Just take the SH 39 for eight kilometers and the SH 1 for around 100 km. In Auckland, you’ll find an extinct volcano called Mount Eden that you can climb, the Auckland City Art Gallery with some of New Zealand’s best art, and the Museum of Transport and Technology, an interactive museum for all ages.
- If you decide to stick around Hamilton, don’t miss the Hamilton Zoo, which houses over 440 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. The Hamilton Zoo also has the largest walk-through aviary in Australia, which is landscaped with native New Zealand plants. The zoo is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is $10 for adults and $5 for children. For more information, go to hamiltonzoo.co.nz.
See the lights from the day after Thanksgiving until the end of the Christmas season. While you’re in the area, you can also visit the nativity scene in front of the temple.
- For some of the world’s oldest and best-preserved dinosaur tracks, visit the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm (2180 East Riverside). In 2000, farmer Sheldon Johnson discovered some Jurassic tracks on his farm dating back 205 million years. Take a walk through 2,000 tracks made by several kinds of dinosaurs, ancient crocodilians, fish, and other animals. The Discovery Site is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Snow Canyon State Park is a great place for year-round hiking, biking, and camping. Just eleven miles northwest of St. George, Snow Canyon has several trails among volcanic lava rock and sand dunes which are especially popular among children. If you’re daring enough, go rock climbing on the red Navajo rock walls. Planning to camp? Reserve a spot at utah.com/stateparks.
- Believe it or not, some of the best pioneer sites are located in St. George, Utah. You can tour through Brigham Young’s winter home (200 North 100 West), from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the winter time. His home is surrounded by other pioneer homes including Orson Pratt, Thomas Judd, and William Bentley. The homes have been turned into the Green Gate Village Historic Inn, where families can rent a room during their stay. In the town center you’ll find the St. George Tabernacle, nicknamed “The Jewel of the Desert.”
Need a Place to Stay?
- The Green Gate Village Inn is a collection of restored early Victorian homes located in old St. George. The guest rooms are decorated in the Victorian style (with a few modern conveniences), and the hotel houses has a Victorian parlor, reception and meeting rooms, and a general store with a lunch counter. The nightly rates go from $139.00.
- Just one mile from the St. George Temple is the Best Western Abbey Inn. A complimentary full breakfast is served in the mornings, and the property includes a pool, children’s pool, and oversized spa. Prices start at $83.66.
- The Best Western Travel Inn has a courtyard setting and extra large family rooms. The hotel also has a swimming pool, indoor spa, cable TV, and deluxe breakfast bar. Located just a few blocks from the St. George Temple, This hotel is at the great price of $54.90 per night.