Years ago my mom visited Springfield, Illinois and has repeatedly tried to convince me that we need to do the same. Having so much Lincoln history centralized in one area, she knew I would love it. As always, my mother was right.
If you have a chance definitely plan to make a stop at this charming city. As an extra bonus to the beautiful architecture, the walkable downtown, and fascinating historical stops is the fact that so many of the great places to visit are free. We’ve put together a list of the stops we made during our recent visit, as well as a few bonus locations to check out!
1. Lincoln’s Historic Home
This amazing property is part of the National Parks Historic Sites. Unbelievably, the guided tours through Lincoln’s home though are free! We really enjoyed the personal glimpse into Abraham Lincoln’s family life. Our tour guide was phenomenal, with plenty of interesting stories to share. Despite the variety of questions thrown at him throughout the tour, he remained unflappable. Everyone in our family left feeling like we knew so much more about Lincoln, his wife, and their children. After the tour wrapped, there were a handful of other buildings in the neighborhood available to explore as well.
2. Lincoln’s Tomb
It was surreal to visit this massive granite tomb located at Oak Ridge Cemetery. I had not been sure what to expect in visiting Lincoln’s grave and was surprised by the number of other visitors there. The bronze statues depicting parts of Lincoln’s life, plaques containing excerpts of his speeches, and ability to walk past the final resting place of a great president and his family left us all quietly reflecting the past and present.
3. Lincoln Herndon Law Office
The only remaining law office of Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln-Herndon law office was closed for refurbishment during our visit to Springfield. Even though we weren’t able to walk through the building, just strolling along the outside was breathtaking.
4. Old State Capital
There are several fascinating areas within the Old Capital Building. Located across the street from Lincoln’s law office, The House of Representatives where Lincoln gave his “House Divided” speech is located here. Our daughter loved sitting at the desks and was encouraged by staff to open the drawers to see where Members would have kept their candles and quills. On the first floor is the Illinois Supreme Court where Lincoln tried a number of cases. He also frequented the law library to research for cases. Exploring these rooms was inspirational.
5. Lincoln Depot
From this Great Western Railroad train depot, Abraham Lincoln caught the train that would take him to the White House in 1861. This was the site of his “Farewell Address” to Springfield. Located in the lower level are also a handful of historic exhibits from the era.
If you have more time in the area here are some additional activities and sites to check out! There is so much to see and do in Springfield!
Bonus free sites and activities:
- Abe’s Hat Hunt – A scavenger hunt of Springfield historic sites. Pick up the booklets at the Springfield Convention and Visitor Center, the Lincoln Home Visitor Center, the Dana-Thomas House, or the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. After visiting at least 5 of the 10 locations in the booklet, turn it back in for a prize!
- 1908 Race Riot Walking Tour
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
- Adams Wildlife Sanctuary
- Lincoln Family Pew at the First Presbyterian Church
- Illinois State Military Museum
- Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center
- Union Station and Union Square Park
- Illinois Fire Museum
- Lincoln Ledger at Chase Bank
- Illinois State Capital
- Washington Park Botanical Garden
- Illinois Governor’s Mansion
- Mahan’s Filling Station