10 Best Things to Do in Springfield, Illinois

— Springfield, Illinois — As the home of Abraham Lincoln, you can’t visit Springfield without stopping at a few of Lincoln’s famous sites. If you thought you knew everything about Abe Lincoln, think again. Springfield does a great job in showing you there is more to learn about this famous President. There are many other things to see, eat, and visit while you are in town.


Here are the 10 best things to do in Springfield, Illinois

1. Step Back in Time at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Lincoln Home National Historic Site - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

Located in downtown Springfield, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves Abraham Lincoln’s home and the neighborhood where Abraham Lincoln raised his family. You can walk down the cobbled streets and look at the houses where Abe mingled with immigrants from England, France, Germany, and Portugal. Walking through the tree-lined street, you can imagine Lincoln playing with the kids and giving them piggyback rides to school.

This vibrant community, with its diverse backgrounds, helped shape Lincoln’s beliefs about freedom and equality. This is also the neighborhood where the Republican Rally celebrated Lincoln’s win to the presidency. When visiting the national park, check to see if tours inside Abe’s home are available here and to help plan your visit.

2. Pretend to Take a Trip at the Lincoln Depot 

Lincoln Depot - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

The Lincoln Depot is also known as the Great Western Railroad Depot. Abraham Lincoln delivered his farewell address before boarding a train heading to Washington, D.C., on February 12, 1861. He gave an emotional speech in the rain to many of his friends and neighbors who saw him leave for the last time. 

The Lincoln Depot is free for you to enter and explore around the main floor, which still has yesteryear’s look and feel. There are several photographs of the prominent people in Lincoln’s life. In the waiting room, you can sit on a bench and watch a video of what it was like for Lincoln to travel those 12 days to Washington. 

The depot is open from Mondays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Make sure to check out the mural partially painted on the outside depicting Lincoln giving his farewell address.

3. Visit the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices have relocated temporarily to the first floor of the Springfield Visitor’s Center. Stop in to say Hi, and then check out Lincoln’s law office from 1843 to 1852. This room is where the team practiced law, researched, and did trial prep work before going across the street to the Old State Capitol to argue cases. 

You can also see the recreation of the Post Office from 1841-1849. This tended to be the busiest place in town as there was no direct mail delivery, so everyone stopped in here to find out the latest news.

4. Tour the Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

Inside the Old State Capitol walls, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglass battled it out for their political parties repeatedly, leading up to the Civil War. You can schedule a 30-minute self-guided tour and see the Representatives Hall where Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech and the other rooms where the Illinois State government conducted business, including offices, libraries, and the Supreme Court Room.

The Old State Capitol also served as a base of operations for organizing military units during the Civil War. There are tons of weapons and artifacts from the war on display as well. Book your reservation for your tour online.

5. Explore Lincoln’s Life at the Presidential Museum & Library

Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library
© Heather Raulerson

Visiting the Lincoln Presidential Museum is a must-see if you are interested in learning more about Abraham Lincoln. The building is broken up into a few parts. The first area is the theaters; you’ll be able to watch interactive presentations about Lincoln to get you ready for the museum.

The next part has you following Lincoln’s journey through his early years’ poor and humble beginnings to crucial events that led him to get involved in politics. Within the museum, there are life-sized dioramas that showcase his life and show how they might have shaped his beliefs, along with artifacts and memorabilia. 

The last part of the museum brings you along on Abraham Lincoln’s time in the White House as the 16th President. As you walk through this section, you will experience the significant events in Abe’s Life, from the death of his son, Willie, to the Union’s dissolution and the effects of the Civil War that shaped Lincoln’s Presidency and how it affected him.

You will have to schedule your time in the Museum in advance and buy your tickets online. Tickets are $15/adult and $6/child. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Expect to spend 2 to 2.5 hours exploring this fabulous presidential museum.


6. Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield

At the Oak Ridge Cemetery, you can visit the 117-foot granite tomb housing the remains of Abraham Lincoln, Mary, and three of his sons to pay your respects at his final resting place. In front of the entrance to the tomb, there is a large bronze bust of Lincoln. If you rub the nose of the statue, it supposedly grants you good luck. The tomb is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

7. Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece

Dana-Thomas House - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

The Dana -Thomas House is one of the most lavish structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright situated in Old Aristocracy Hill in Springfield. You can schedule a tour to see inside this unique architecture designed with a prairie theme carried throughout the entire home. This is a fantastic tour, as the Dana-Thomas House contains one of the largest and finest collections of original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed art glass, original Wright-designed oak furniture, light fixtures, and lamps. Be forewarned though-there are no photos allowed to be taken inside the house.

8. Take a Ride on Route 66 to the Cozy Dog Drive-In

Cozy Dog Drive-In - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

Cozy Dog Drive-In is a must-visit for those who love Route 66. The entire restaurant is a shrine to the road filled with memorabilia from Route 66 and celebrities who stopped in the Cozy Dog located on historic route 66. Cozy Dog Drive-In is the home of the original batter-covered hot dog on a stick. Stop in for lunch while you are visiting Springfield to try a Cozy Dog or two and pick up some route 66 souvenirs, too!

9. Grab some grub at Lil Willy’s Smokehouse BBQ

Lil Willy's Smokehouse BBQ - Springfield, IL
© Heather Raulerson

Lil Willy’s was a 1930s gas station on the corner of South Grand and MacArthur Blvd that has turned into a great BBQ joint. If you need sustenance while exploring all the Springfield sites, you need to stop into Lil Willy’s Smokehouse BBQ for some delicious grub! When you drive by, you can’t help your mouth from watering from the smells of the smoked meat coming through your car windows. Fill up on ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and all the BBQ sides you can eat. Yum!

10. Government in Action at the Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol
© Flickr

The Illinois State Capitol is a National Historic Landmark shaped in a Latin cross design with a 361-foot-high dome. Did you know that the Illinois State Capitol stands 74-feet taller than the U.S. Capitol building in Washington DC?

Visiting the Capitol building, you can watch Illinois politicians at work from the balcony, or you can sign up for a guided tour. Free tours are available every half hour on weekdays. If you want to explore, go during the week because you must stay with the guide during the weekends.

Conclusion

Springfield is a great place to visit for foodies, art-lovers, history buffs, and all things Lincoln. You can’t go anywhere in Springfield without seeing something dedicated to Mr. Lincoln. There are plenty of activities and places for you to visit that you can fill up an entire weekend and even a week. Come to Springfield and see for yourself!

*Opening Photo © Pexels

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