Springfield delivers both serious history lessons and lighthearted 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.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
Updated August 18, 2020
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This story is intended to help you plan a trip after travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic have ended. Please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, restaurants and lodgings.

What to do

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

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Dana-Thomas House The 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

Governor's Mansion Docent-led tours of the 165-year-old mansion go through elaborately decorated areas, such as the state dining room. illinoismansion.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 (expected to resume in 2021). route66fest.com

Illinois State Capitol A 405-foot-tall stained-glass dome tops the 19th-century building, a blend of Renaissance Revival and Second Empire styles. Take a tour or watch legislators in action from a balcony seat. enjoyillinois.com

Lincoln Home National Historic Site See the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned. Lincoln and his wife, Mary, lived in the 12-room Greek Revival-style house from 1844 to 1861. Living-history interpreters enliven special events. nps.gov/liho

Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Bob Stefko

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 lead to a tavern, school, houses and stores. lincolnsnewsalem.com

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site During free self-guided tours, docents answer questions about 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 State Historic Site

Old State Capitol Take a free tour of the building where Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature and gave his famous “House Divided” speech in 1858. illinois.gov

Old State Capitol; photo courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism

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. springfieldwalks.com

Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon One of the world's largest carillons features 67 cast-bronze bells in a single tower. Concerts take place year-round. carillon-rees.org

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

Cafe Moxo Grab a sandwich-and-side lunch to go or eat in for inexpensive comfort-food like chicken potpie, mac ‘n’ cheese and an assortment of bakery treats. cafemoxo.com

Cozy Dog Drive In Ed Waldmire Jr. created his “crusty cur” while serving during World War II, then renamed it when he came home. The Cozy Dog (you’ll know it as a corn dog) is still made with Waldmire’s batter recipe. Check out the Route 66 memorabilia. cozydogdrivein.com

Incredibly Delicious Flourless chocolate cake tops a menu of desserts; lunch fare includes quiches, soups and sandwiches served in an 1840s Italianate mansion. incrediblydelicious.com

Incredibly Delicious

Custom Cup Coffee The microroastery serves pour-over coffee, great espresso and cold brew with baked goods, some gluten- or dairy-free. customcupcoffee.com

Long Nine Junction This fast-casual restaurant wins over diners with dishes such as pork shoulder with apple butter barbecue sauce or a French dip sandwich of slow-roasted beef. Long Nine Junction on Facebook

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

Obed and Isaac's Microbrewery and Eatery Play cornhole or bocce in the outdoor beer garden while sipping craft brews or nibbling on flatbread pizzas. connshospitalitygroup.com

Obed and Isaac's Microbrewery and Eatery

Saputo's Southern Italian specialties like pasta, pizza and seafood star at this modest family-owned restaurant started in 1948. saputos.com

Where to stay

The Inn at 835 A 1909 apartment building in the Old Aristocracy Hill neighborhood is now an elegant bed-and-breakfast. connshg.com

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

Wyndham Springfield City Centre The 369-room downtown hotel has a steakhouse and lounge 30 stories above the city. wyndham.com

More information visit visitspringfieldillinois.com