With the start of school, many vacations are finished for the year for Utahns, but when planning your next vacation or even a day trip, there are some extraordinary religious historic sites to visit on the West and East coasts and right here in Utah.
* Visittemplesquare.com -- Not even most lifelong members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can remember all the offerings at LDS Temple Square facilities in downtown Salt Lake City.
Here are a few examples:
Try dining. There are meals ranging from family affordable to gourmet. The Nauvoo Cafe on the first floor of the Joseph Smith Building has sandwiches, salads, soups and pot pies for workers in the area and those seeking an inexpensive meal. On the opposite end is The Roof on the top floor of the Joseph Smith Building with a gourmet buffet, or across at the hall at The Garden. Its online menu is worth reading -- just check out its description of Tuscan meatloaf.
Try history. There is a church history museum on the west side of Temple Square, next to the family history library. There is a church history library on the northeast corner and a small family history library in the Joseph Smith Building. The museum (history.lds.org) has a current program, scheduled for Wednesdays, on Joseph Smith's run for the U.S. presidency in 1844.
Try parking. The site also shows you where to put your car in underground facilities. Schedules and information for organ recitals and rehearsals for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other musical events are also available.
* Utcotm.org - This site has a lot of information on the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. The cathedral, built from 1900 to 1909, is the mother church for Roman Catholics in Utah.
The site offers details of the cathedral, which has been updated several times, including seismic retrofitting. There is a photo tour of the building as well as historic information. For information on concerts and tours, call 801-328-8941.
* Nationalcathedral.org -- The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., was started close to the same time frame as the Cathedral of the Madeleine, with the first stone being put into place in 1907. The corporation papers for the cathedral were signed by President Benjamin Harrison in 1893. The cathedral's mission: It "will be a catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, renewal in the churches, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in our world."
The site has some interesting historical tidbits. It took 83 years to finish the facility, with the final touches being completed in 1990. But several historic events occurred during that time. President Woodrow Wilson was part of a Thanksgiving service to celebrate the end of World War I in 1918.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last Sunday sermon from the Canterbury pulpit in 1968. The state funeral for President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in 1969. President Ronald Reagan's and President Gerald Ford's funerals were in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
There is also a page of interesting facts on the cathedral. The Space Window on the south aisle contains a piece of lunar rock, and there is a sculpture of Darth Vader on the top of the west tower.
There are events at the cathedral year-round, tours and exhibits. The requested donation is $10 per person.
* Covefort.com -- Returning to Utah, there is a small historic fort of LDS history just off Interstate 15 in Millard County, just north of the merger with Interstate 70. Brigham Young wanted the fort to be designed as a resting point for travelers. Many people from all denominations stopped at the fort, run by ancestors of former LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley. The site has been restored, showing the fort, bunk house, kitchen and security offered by Ira Hinckley and family. LDS missionaries now offer short tours of the fort.
* Missionsjc.com -- The site gives details of Mission San Juan Capistrano, one of the most famous of missions built in the early history of California by Spanish padres and soldiers in 1775. Their goal was to convert Native Americans in the area to Christianity. The mission began to fade in the early 1800s, as it was difficult for Spain to get supplies there.
The return of the swallows to Capistrano is celebrated on March 19.
Each year, the birds nest in the cliffs around the mission. The swallows come from their winter home in Argentina. If you are ever in the area of Capistrano, many tours are available for children and adults.
* Oldnorth.com -- This site connects U.S. history to a still active Episcopalian church, known for its role in the American Revolutionary War. The Boston church, built in 1722, played a vital role when two lanterns were put in the steeple after Paul Revere signaled that the British soldiers were coming by sea across the Charles River to Lexington and Concord.
The site estimates 500,000 tourists visit the church each year. It is part of Boston's Freedom Trail.