Let’s get straight to the main attraction: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a grand tribute to America’s 16th president. Visitors explore a re-creation of the one-room cabin Lincoln lived in while learning about social customs of the time and Lincoln’s decisions as commander-in-chief. Expect to spend several hours.
At lunchtime, Maldaner’s is a go-to destination for a horseshoe sandwich: toast smothered in your choice of meat, french fries and cheese sauce.
Walk it off at the Illinois Executive Mansion Gardens, where sunken gardens and manicured lawns provide a break.
For dinner, candlelit Augie’s Front Burner always has lobster bisque.
On Tuesday evenings in the summer, stop by Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site for a flag retreat ceremony.
State House Inn is 1960-swank and has a popular cocktail lounge (from $119).
See "5 Free Places to Learn About Lincoln" (below) for more Lincoln-related activities. Plan on a lunch of soup and sandwiches at The Feed Store.
Catch a free concert at the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon; with 67 bronze bells, it's one of the world's largest.
Thrill to the legends told during Springfield Walks’ 90-minute Lincoln's Ghost Walk.
Architecture enthusiasts love tours of the Dana-Thomas House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home still packed with his furniture and stained glass.
For information: Springfield Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 545-7300; visit-springfieldillinois.com
5 Free Places to Learn About Lincoln
1 Old State Capitol State Historic Site Lincoln helped convince his peers that Springfield, rather than Vandalia, ought to be the state capital. Later, in Springfield’s new state capitol, he gave his famous “House Divided” speech. Visitors can take self-guided tours or join 30-minute guided jaunts. (217) 785-7960; illinoishistory.gov
2 Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site Engaging guides leading free tours at Oak Ridge Cemetery tell stories about the lives, deaths and burials of Lincoln, his wife Mary and their four children. (217) 782-2717; lincolntomb.org
3 Lincoln Home National Historic Site Peek into Lincoln’s family life during ranger-led tours of the only home he ever owned. The required tickets are free; pick them up at the nearby Lincoln Home Visitor Center. (217) 391-3221; nps.gov/liho
4 Lincoln Depot Lincoln said good-bye to Springfield and boarded a train for Washington, D.C., on February 11, 1861. Watch the video highlighting his 12-day journey. (217) 544-8441; lincolndepot.org
5 Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site Visit a reconstruction of the 1830s town where young Lincoln lived, 20 miles northwest of Springfield. Interpreters chronicle frontier life, and self-guided tours weave through a tavern, store and timbered houses. (217) 632-4000; lincolnsnewsalem.com
Cozy Dog Drive In Ed Waldmire Jr. created a “crusty cur” during World War II by dipping a hot dog in batter and frying it golden brown. After the war, he changed the name (you know it as a corn dog) and started marketing it. Grab a sack of them to nosh on as you peruse the collection of Route 66 memorabilia in Ed’s old-fashioned drive-in restaurant. For more Route 66 stops, see our Route 66 getaway. (217) 525-1992; cozydogdrivein.com
Meal You’ll Remember
Incredibly Delicious began as a mail-order business selling a flourless chocolate cake. Sales were a tad slow, so the owners transformed an 1845 Italianate mansion into a bakery to sell baguettes, sandwiches and tarts (like a chocolate ganache raspberry beauty). The now-bustling bakery still produces the original decadent cake, but patrons also stop in for a great breakfast or lunch. (217) 528-8548; incrediblydelicious.com