When driving through Illinois, keep in mind that it’s not called the “Land of Lincoln” for no reason. There are shadows of the U.S.’s 16th president everywhere, particularly in Springfield, Illinois’ capital city.
I’ve been fascinated with Lincoln for a good many years now. (I even read the entire Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln book in high school and loved it! If you haven’t read this biography, please do, though I should warn you … it’s 944 pages.) This means that Springfield, which is saturated with the history of his life, is an exciting place to me.
While I’ve visited several times, simply because I lived just 45 minutes from it, if you’re a history buff (please raise your hand with pride!) or enjoy learning about Lincoln, the city of Springfield might be a good place to visit. And below you’ll find a list of historical places that makes it easier to “look for Lincoln” there.
Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site
Located about 20 miles from Springfield, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site is a reconstruction of the village where Lincoln lived in his 20s. The village has about 24 different buildings set up how they might have looked at that time. Some of the houses also have guides inside who share other historical facts and point out details within the space. A few of them make food — beans and cornbread — in cast iron pots over the old-fashioned fires. You can also find a small museum in the visitor center.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Free to the public, the neighborhood where Lincoln raised his family has various buildings and signs explaining who lived in them and when. To go inside Lincoln’s home and experience a ranger-led tour, just be sure to reserve tickets at the visitor’s center in advance. The Bicentennial Plaza, with readable posters of the city’s history, is also nearby.
Old State Capitol
The capitol, which is currently under construction, is not the current state capitol but was the center of the state’s government from 1839 to 1876. It was the building where Lincoln served as a state legislator, practiced law and delivered his “House Divided” speech. Just in front of the capitol, there are signs with historical information about Lincon’s time period as well, such as what people’s teeth and the dentist were like. (I’m serious. That’s one of the topics.)
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library And Museum
If you want the full story of Lincoln, check out this museum, which I believe is totally worth the cost (up to $15 per person). It includes interactive exhibits, character actors, theater performances and display items within the library. Statues also surround Union Station, located across from the museum.
The Lincoln Tomb
This tomb, and monument, is the resting place of Lincoln, his wife and three of his four sons. There’s a bronze statue of Lincoln’s head at the front, and you can go inside the marble chamber where the 10-foot down vault is located.