Nauvoo is one of the most important places in Mormon history. This is where the Mormons built the original temple in 1840. The Nauvoo area has very significant history relating to the Church and Joseph Smith. Joseph and Hyrum Smith were both martyred in Carthage Jail (Carthage, Illinois), which is only about a 30-minute drive from Nauvoo. In memory of the brothers, there is a statue of them on horseback on the west grounds of the temple. The temple was dedicated on the exact day and very hour of the anniversary of the martydrom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Every effort was made to build the temple as accurately as possible to match the original temple. Even the 1846 limestone exterior was replicated as much as possible. It is a beautiful temple with significant meaning and a beacon of hope and determination which can be seen by all as it sits majestically overlooking the Mississippi River.
There is a Visitors Center on-site that gives you a good starting point. There are 13 statues outside the center symbolizing a woman's role in the home and in society. Historic Nauvoo has enough to keep you busy all day long with carriage and wagon rides and historic trails to walk. There is so much history here. If you want to see it all, you'll have to spend at least a few days in the area. There are close to 30 religious buildings, shops and restored homes in Nauvoo. A good starting point for historic homes are the Wilford Woodruff Nauvoo Home and the Heber C. Kimball Home. Don't forget about the Jonathan Browning Home & Gun Shop where you can see the gun makers home and many of his guns and tools. Visit the homes where Prophet Joseph Smith and his family lived at the The Joseph Smith Historic Site. Other sites to take in are Brigham Young's Nauvoo Home, John Taylor Nauvoo Home, Nauvoo Land and Records Office, Lucy Mack Smith Nauvoo Home, Nauvoo Family Living Center, Nauvoo Temple Rock Quarry, Nauvoo Printing Office, Riser Nauvoo Home and Boot Shop, Sarah Granger Kimball Nauvoo Home and the Stoddard Nauvoo Home and Tin Shop among others. The great thing about Historic Nauvoo is that all the activities are free. If you're in the area during July & early August, the Nauvoo Pageant - A Tribute to Joseph Smith is a wonderful live performance celebrating the life of Joseph Smith and it's not to be missed.
The area is somewhat limited as far as gourmet food, but the Nauvoo Mill & Bakery grinds their own wheat and makes fresh bread and cookies on-site. Something you shouldn't pass on. Zions Mercantile Restaurant serves up sandwiches and burgers. The Hotel Nauvoo Restaurant puts on a well-liked buffet with a fantastic meat carving station. Grandpa John's Nauvoo Cafe is a laid-back place to enjoy breakfast or lunch with the familiar pancakes, french toast, sandwiches and hamburgers. Fudge Factory is a great place to pick up some delicious fudge or treats.