Springfield Trip Guide | Midwest Living

Springfield Trip Guide

Lincoln sites in Springfield put a relatable face on a larger-than-life figure who intrigues even the most detached visitors. Whether you come for a serious lesson in history or a light-hearted slice of classic Americana, Springfield has plenty to satisfy.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
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Lincoln Home National Historic Site
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Old State Capitol
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Downtown restaurant, Maldaner's
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What to do

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Plan to spend three to four hours to see it all. A re-creation of the one-room cabin Lincoln lived in (with 10 family members, no less) is fascinating. Mrs. Lincoln's Attic, filled with dress-up clothes, thrills kids. See reviews and ratings. (800) 610-2094; presidentlincoln.org

Dana-Thomas House This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house is a must-see for anyone interested in design. It’s filled with Wright’s art glass. Free; donations welcome. See reviews and ratings. (217) 782-6776; dana-thomas.org

International Route 66 Mother Road Festival Get your kicks on America’s Main Street during this car show and festival (September 27–29, 2013). (317) 236-6515; route66fest.com

Lincoln Home National Historic Site Tour the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned. The Lincolns lived in the Greek Revival-style house from 1844 to 1861. Tickets are required; they are free and available at the nearby Lincoln Home Visitor Center. See reviews and ratings. (217) 391-3221; nps.gov/liho

Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site Visit a reconstruction of Lincoln’s 1830s town. Interpreters chronicle frontier life, and self-guided tours weave through a tavern, store, one-room school and timbered houses near Petersburg, 20 miles northwest of Springfield. (217) 632-4000; lincolnsnewsalem.com

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site On free self-guided tours, docents can answer questions about the lives, deaths and burials of Lincoln and his family. See reviews and ratings. (217) 782-2717; lincolntomb.org 

Old State Capitol Take a free 30-minute guided tour of the building where Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature, gave his famous "House Divided" speech in 1858 and where his body lay in state following his assassination in 1865. (217) 785-9363; visit-springfieldillinois.com

Rees Carillon One of the world’s largest carillons features 67 cast-bronze bells in a single tower. Concerts take place Sundays and Wednesdays. (217) 546-3853; carillon-rees.org

Springfield Walks Ninety-minute walking tours explore Lincoln’s life before he was president. The most popular is “Lincoln’s Ghost Walk: Legends and Lore.” Seasonal. (217) 502-8687; springfieldwalks.com

Where to eat

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; www.ariston-cafe.com

Cozy Dog Drive In Ed Waldmire Jr. created his “crusty cur” during World War II, then gave it a more marketable name when he came home to Springfield. (You’ll know it as a corn dog.) Work through a sack of dogs as you peruse the Route 66 memorabilia. See reviews and ratings. (217) 525-1992; cozydogdrivein.com

Maldaner's It's the place to go for a horseshoe sandwich: a hamburger on toast, smothered with french frieds and cheese sauce; served only at lunch. (217) 522-4313; maldaners.com

Saputo’s Southern Italian specialties like pasta, pizza, steaks and seafood star at this modest family-owned restaurant that's been around since 1948. (217) 544-2523; saputos.com

Where to stay

Hilton Springfield The remodeled 365-room downtown hotel has an indoor pool, a Starbucks, a bar, and an on-site Bennigan’s Grill and Tavern. From $109. (217) 789-1530; springfieldil.hilton.com

The Inn at 835 An Arts and Crafts apartment house in the historic district has converted to an elegant bed-and-breakfast. Each room has a private bath. From $127. (217) 523-4466; innat835.com

The State House Inn We loved finding a boutique-style hotel with a piano lounge downtown. From $89, breakfast included. (217) 528-5100; thestatehouseinn.com

More information: Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 545-7300; visit-springfieldillinois.com

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