Nauvoo, Illinois: A Travel Review

Settled by Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Nauvoo today contains a restored and recreated city owned and operated by the LDS church giving visitors can get a peek at Mormon life in the 1840’s. Located on the banks of the Mississippi, the entire area today is quite lovely and the historic area is filled with restored homes and shops although you have to keep in mind that the lush, beautiful surroundings you see today look nothing like the way the town looked in the 1840’s with its numerous wooden shacks, sheds and outhouses and the waters of the river often “swamping” the town. Most visitors are LDS and all of the tours are geared toward them. But a non-Mormon can enjoy a day wandering here as well. Because it wasn’t busy the day we visited, my husband and I found a couple of tour guides who were kind enough to give us private tours and we had some great, non-religious oriented discussions about the history of Nauvoo.

Nauvoo Hotel

Nauvoo Hotel

I realize that most tourists to Nauvoo, and many residents, are probably LDS.  I was a nervous about staying in Nauvoo lodgings when I read some of my tour book’s hotel descriptions. One of the hotel reviews said to expect lots of loud children–we wouldn’t be staying there. Another said that “alcohol is forbidden.” Not that I would have expected them to seach my bags (where they would have found a bottle of champagne). Still, if it’s that big of a deal to them… well, I think I’d rather not.  Hotel, gas station, and shop owners, or doctors, winery operators, and plumbers that make their religious and/or political views known through signage on the side of the businesses make me a bit uncomfortable and I avoid doing business there. Because the local hotels didn’t seem appealing, we had planned to spend the day touring Nauvoo and then drive back to Keokuk in the evening to find some everyday, chain sort of place, that wouldn’t care whether I was carrying a bottle of champagne or not. But then we stumbled upon the Hotel Nauvoo.

Located right in the middle of town, we went into the historic Hotel Nauvoo for dinner. We immediately saw that the hotel had a bar, and even though we never stepped inside of it, it caught our attention. We asked a few questions, determined that there weren’t any weird hotel rules and didn’t seem to be filled with rambunctious kids. We decided to check-in. We got one of the last available rooms and were given room #5, a very small room but still adequate, and nicely furnished with a queen sized bed, tv, air conditioner, chair, desk, and a good sized bathroom. We paid about $80 and everything was clean and comfortable. There was adequate space to lay out 2 fairly large suitcases out of our way. I was pleased with the easy-to-figure-out shower, which is often sorely lacking in hotels. The room could have used another mirror over the desk and there was no hair dryer in the room which so many hotels provide these days that I don’t bother traveling with one. Those were my only complaints though. Outside on the lawn there are comfortable chairs where you can sit and watch the world go by.

But we had stopped in because we were hungry, and our first order of business was dinner. The dinner buffet at the Hotel Nauvoo was fabulous and not at all what I expected. Everything was delicious and prepared beautifully. There was such a big selection–something for everyone. We had no problem getting a table, but shortly thereafter the restaurant quickly filled up and we were glad we gotten in when we did. Breakfast the next morning was across the street. It was also very good and we got a 25% discount for staying at the hotel which made our all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet about $5 each.

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