Springfield, Illinois: Land of Lincoln

If you or your family have an interest in American History, and Abraham Lincoln in particular, a pilgrimage to the Springfield, Illinois area is in order.  Within an easy drive from St. Louis, Chicago, or Louisville, Springfield is a great place for immersion in Lincoln’s life and legacy.  There are so many Lincoln sites in Central Illinois you’ll need days and days to see them all.

First Stop:  Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

If you see nothing else during your visit, make it the spectacular Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum located in downtown Springfield. A high tech ‘Disneyesque’ museum, it is not only educational but tons of fun for all ages.  In particular, the “Ghosts of the Library” exhibit/ show can’t be missed with its surprise ending and special effects.  My family still can’t agree on how the technology worked. The museum provides a great introduction to everything Abe you’ll see in the area.  The exhibits, “Journey One” and “Journey Two,” chronicle the pre-presidential and White House years and are particularly informative and fun.

Lincoln Presidential Library

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Also located downtown The Lincoln Home National Historic Site, run by the National Park Service is a good stop after a bite to eat (try Cafe Brio nearby).  Anything run by the National Park Service in my opinion is not to be missed and this is no exception.  Tickets are free, but you’ll need a reservation for a specific tour time. After a brief introduction by your guide, you’ll tour inside the home where Lincoln lived from 1864-1841 just before he became President.  After that, allow some time to wander about the well-preserved neighborhood surrounding the house where many other buildings are also on exhibit.

Lincoln home

If time permits, other interesting nearby Lincoln sites include his Law Office, Tomb and the Illinois State Capital.

Lincoln’s New Salem and other sites

For children, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, a historic reconstruction of the town where Lincoln lived and worked during his 20s is worth the 30 minute drive outside of Springfield if you have several hours to spend.  The 23 buildings are often occupied by costumed interpreters who’ll demonstrate what life was like during Lincoln’s time.

But Wait… There’s More!

When you honestly find yourself overwhelmed with Honest Abe, a visit to the Dana Thomas House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces and is considered the best example of Wright’s Prairie Style Houses, is a worthwhile change of pace.

Where to Stay and What to Eat

If you’re hungry for a good meal (lunch or dinner) after your head is saturated with knowledge, The historic Maldaner’s Restaurant in Downtown Springfield will do nicely. We’ve eaten here on several occasions and find it to be consistently delicious venue.

For lodging, Springfield’s  brand new Residence Inn would be my choice.


  1. A visit to Springfield is on my bucket list. Thanks for reminding me of all the things I want to see there.

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