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Springfield Trip Guide

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and other Lincoln sites, plus a Frank Lloyd Wright home and Route 66 stops, are among the top things to do in Illinois' capital city.

Springfield delivers both serious history lessons and light-hearted slices of Americana. But the city where Lincoln lived is known for informative sites that put a relatable face on a larger-than-life figure.

What to do

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Exploring a re-creation of the one-room cabin Lincoln lived in and catching a Lincoln-theme film in the Union Theater provide a good introduction to the life of the 16th president. Immersive galleries portray key moments in his life. illinois.gov/alplm

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Dana-Thomas House If you need a break from the Lincoln-mania, try a home tour. This 35-room house, designed in 1902 by Frank Lloyd Wright, contains the nation’s largest collection of Wright’s site-specific original art glass and furniture. dana-thomas.org

International Route 66 Mother Road Festival More than a thousand hot rods and vintage motorcycle roar into Springfield for the festival featuring live music and food vendors (September 22-24, 2017). route66fest.com

Lincoln Home National Historic Site Tour the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned. Lincoln and his wife, Mary, lived in this Greek Revival-style house from 1844 to 1861; the decor captures 1860s style. Living-history interpreters enliven special events. Tickets are required; pick them up for free at the nearby Lincoln Home Visitor Center. nps.gov/liho

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site Visit a reconstruction of the town Lincoln lived in for six years (near Petersburg, 20 miles northwest of Springfield). Interpreters chronicle frontier life, and self-guided tours weave through a tavern, store, one-room school, 12 timbered houses, mills, workshops and stores. lincolnsnewsalem.com

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site On free self-guided tours, docents answer questions about the lives and deaths of Lincoln and his family (all but son Robert were laid to rest here). In front of the tomb is a bronze reproduction of Gutzon Borglum's marble head of Lincoln; it's tradition to rub the nose for good luck. lincolntomb.org 

Lincoln tomb

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site

Old State Capitol Take a free tour of the building where Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature, gave his famous “House Divided” speech in 1858 and his body laid in state following his assassination. A Lincoln presenter appears at the Capitol weekly during the summer as well as a special events. illinois.gov

Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol; photo courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism

Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon One of the world’s largest carillons features 67 cast-bronze bells in a single tower. Concerts take place Wednesdays and Sundays year-round, plus Saturdays in the summer. carillon-rees.org

Springfield Walks Seasonal tours explore Lincoln’s life, death and family. The most popular is the 90-minute Lincoln’s Ghost Walk: Legends and Lore. Other tours last from 2 to 4 hours. springfieldwalks.com

Where to eat

Augie’s Front Burner Entrees infused with seasonal flavors (like summer’s salmon with sweet corn and tomato) make this upscale restaurant a winner. augiesfrontburner.com

Ariston Cafe Find a wide-ranging menu of classic fare (Italian, Tex-Mex, Southern) 45 minutes south of Springfield (follow Route 66)(217) 324-2023. 

Cozy Dog Drive In Ed Waldmire Jr. created his “crusty cur” while serving during World War II then renamed it when he came home. (You’ll know it as a corn dog.) cozydogdrivein.com

Incredibly Delicious Flourless chocolate cake tops a menu of desserts and lunch fare served in an 1840s Italianate mansion. incrediblydelicious.com

Incredibly Delicious

Incredibly Delicious

Maldaner's It’s the place to go for a horseshoe sandwich: meat or veggies on toast, smothered with french fries and cheese sauce; served only at lunch.  maldaners.com

Saputo’s Southern Italian specialties like pasta, pizza and seafood star at this modest family-owned restaurant that’s been around since 1948.  saputos.com

Where to stay

The Inn at 835 A 1909 apartment building in the Aristocracy Hill historical district is now an elegant bed-and-breakfast. innat835.com

The State House Inn We loved finding a downtown boutique-style hotel with a piano lounge and 1960s vibe. thestatehouseinn.com

Wyndham Springfield City Centre The 369-room downtown hotel has an indoor pool, a Starbucks, steakhouse, grill and a lounge 30 stories above the city. wyndham.com

More information: Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau visit-springfieldillinois.com

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