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 here.
Not far away, Maldaner’s is a go-to destination for a horseshoe sandwich: toast smothered in hamburger, french fries and cheese sauce.
Walk off the calories at the Illinois Executive Mansion Gardens, where sunken gardens, gorgeous roses and manicured lawns provide a break from history lessons.
For dinner, candlelit Augie’s Front Burner always has lobster bisque on its menu. Retro-swank State House Inn has a popular cocktail lounge (from $123).
See 5 Great Places to Learn About Lincoln (below) to choose today’s activities, and plan on a lunch of soup and sandwiches at The Feed Store.
One of the world’s largest carillons plays carols with 67 bronze bells in Washington Park. The tower isn’t haunted, but according to Springfield Walks’ Haunted Dead Walk, other places around town might be. Thrill to the legends told during the 90-minute 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 Great 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 building, 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, 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. Interpreters chronicle frontier life, and self-guided tours weave through a tavern, store and timbered houses 20 miles northwest of Springfield. (217) 632-4000; lincolnsnewsalem.com