We look forward to your visit to the Illinois Historic Sites in Nauvoo and Carthage. Careful planning and coordination with Guest Services will help you have a better experience while here. If your group includes 25 or more people, please complete our Group Planning Checklist and fill out the Group Request form to tell us about your group and your plans. We will contact you to discuss reservations, activities, and other scheduling matters. We are not able to arrange lodging, food, or transportation.
If your group consists of fewer than 25 people, you do not need to contact us for scheduling, but you may still review the information on this page to aid you in planning your visit to Nauvoo.
Group Planning Checklist
1. Read Group Guidelines
Nauvoo Historic Sites
Although there are many historic buildings in Nauvoo, you will need to divide your larger group into smaller ones of 8-12 individuals in order to participate in tours. During the busiest months, we must be able to accommodate individuals, families, and small groups alongside your large group, and so you will not be able to fill an entire tour or performance. Contact Guest Services to learn how to reserve certain experiences. All youth groups must have adult supervision, but remember that only missionaries may conduct tours. We ask you not to take over a site to conduct discussions or classes for your tour group.
The Nauvoo Visitors’ Center features exhibits centered on the purpose of temples, the building of the Nauvoo temple, and Joseph Smith’s leadership. The East Theater offers a variety of films that can be scheduled by request. See complete PDF list of movies.
Between Memorial Day and mid-October, live performances with limited seating may require advanced reservations. Other shows will be first-come, first-seated. Check this website or contact Guest Services with questions after you have initially registered your group.
The Nauvoo and British Pageants will be performed from July 5 – July 30, 2022. Tickets are not required, and all performances offer open seating. You may reserve a block of seats for your group on the day of performance after 2:00 pm. Learn more about reserving seats for the pageants.
Oxen rides are available on a first-come-first-served basis, with a limit of 8 seats per ride. Reservations are not available. The ride is short and other group members can find interesting facts about history and about the oxen on nearby reader boards while they wait. The ride is located just to the northwest of the Visitors’ Center.
Wagon & Carriage Tours
The Wagon Tour provides an overview of Nauvoo Historic Sites and begins on the west side of Main Street, south of the Family Living Center. The Carriage Tour takes visitors a short distance into the countryside while guides share faith-promoting stories about the past. This tour begins on the northeast side of the Visitors’ Center. Reservations are required for both tours. Each person may reserve up to 5 tickets but no more. Tickets expire if the holder is not in line 10 minutes before the wagon departs. Those with expired tickets may get in the back of the standby line. Large groups should consider splitting up into different wagon times.
Gathering Places for Group Activities (subject to approval)
Availability of any venue is not guaranteed, especially between May-July. However, picnic areas, the Parley Fire Pit, and other spaces are available for use by groups. Be sure to submit your request as early as possible. Learn more about gathering places
Carthage is located approximately 23 miles from Nauvoo. Be sure to plan for travel time and waiting time to take a tour of the jail. Some days, the wait could be long. Tours are 30 minutes long and begin every 15 minutes. Tour size is limited to 15 individuals. While part of your group waits for others to finish touring, we invite you to enjoy the Visitors’ Center or peaceful grounds and reflect on the ministry of Joseph Smith, as well as the sacrifice he and his brother made to share their witness of the Restored Gospel.
Joseph Smith Historic Site
Several historic sites adjacent to Historic Nauvoo are owned by the Community of Christ, including the Mansion House, the Smith Family Cemetery, Red Brick Store, and more. These sites are important to but not owned by Latter-day Saints. Guided tours are only provided by Community of Christ volunteers or staff. Please contact the Community of Christ Visitors’ Center regarding hours, tour fees, or other group activities on their property. If you take a tour, please be respectful of their presentation and their perspectives on historic events.
If you visit the Joseph Smith Historic Site without taking the official tour, please do not attempt to enter the Mansion House or other residences. Do not conduct classes or discussions within the Smith Family Cemetery; take your discussions beyond the fence after visiting so that scheduled tours may be unobstructed and to preserve the reverence of the site. Also, yield to all scheduled tours when visiting the Red Brick Store, and do not expect to visit beyond the gift shop if you are not on a tour. The Community of Christ welcomes visitors and we encourage you to include their sites in your planning. Consult their website for more information.
Please recognize that Nauvoo is a small town of about 1,000 residents. Each summer, tens of thousands of visitors come to see Nauvoo Historic Sites, and this can be overwhelming. You can help all visitors and residents have a better experience by respecting local property and following some simple rules of courtesy:
- Pay attention to your group noise, especially after curfew (10:00 pm weekdays; 11:00 pm weekends).
- Remain on sidewalks when walking in town and stay off of private residential property.
- Do not obstruct traffic or walk in the street.
- Take time to visit local businesses; however, be considerate of small spaces when traveling as a group.
- Always provide youth with appropriate adult supervision.
- Clean up after yourselves if you have outdoor activities, and do not litter at any time.
- Obey posted signs and Nauvoo City traffic ordinances.
- Consider bringing flashlights, as not every street is well-lit, and it becomes very dark at night.
Please park cars in designated parking areas only. Following local ordinances will prevent being ticketed. Buses may not park on the street but should park west of the Visitors’ Center or in the lot near Kimball and Main streets.
Food and Other Services
As you consider meal planning, be aware that Nauvoo has limited eating facilities but is always striving to provide services that will help you enjoy your visit. There are no eating establishments that can handle large groups on short notice. Please advise restaurants if you plan on bringing a large group to their business so they can prepare for you. For current information, please contact the Nauvoo Tourism Office at 217.453.6648 or visit their website.
Buses & Large RVs
Nauvoo’s narrow streets were not designed for buses and large recreational vehicles. During summer months, having many large vehicles on the road can present a challenge for local traffic. For this reason, Nauvoo classifies RVs of 30 feet or longer as buses and requires that they use the same designated routes and parking areas as tour buses. Please pay careful attention to these essential rules. When you contract with a bus company for travel here or drive your own large RV, instruct all drivers to always follow bus routes and park only in designated bus parking areas. Buses must obtain a sticker from the city that verifies they have read the rules governing bus and RV behavior. Please remind drivers that GPS units might direct them to use roads that are not fit for bus traffic. This can lead to damage for both roads and vehicles. Download a map of the approved routes for Bus & RVs.
Church Services for Latter-day Saints
Sacrament meeting times and seating availability were interrupted during the pandemic. New policies for visiting groups are still be finalized. Please check back later.
Sometimes stakes planning a visit for their youth try to focus their attention by giving them “treasure hunt” lists of items to look for in Nauvoo. We have noticed that some youth then only check items off their lists and do not pay attention to the history or significance of Nauvoo. Stakes that prepare youth to seek and feel the influence of the Spirit while in Nauvoo and Carthage are usually more pleased with their experience. Before coming to town, please encourage youth to read relevant chapters from Saints or review conference talks about Nauvoo or its residents. Your discussions while in the historic sites will be more meaningful.
We are unable to assist you in finding service projects for your large group. If service is essential to your trip, please consider serving in your own communities before or after your trip. You may also consult JustServe.org for options, but it is difficult to accommodate large groups wanting quick service opportunities.