For Lincoln lovers, there is no destination that offers quite as much as Springfield, Ill. This is where Lincoln came as a young unmarried man to begin his career in the law. It is where he met and married Mary Todd, bought a home and filled it with young sons. It is where he began his political career in the Illinois legislature and finally it was where his body was returned to be buried after his assassination.
The city of Springfield allows the unique opportunity to walk the streets that Lincoln walked, to see where he worked and to learn more about him than you ever dreamed at the amazing Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
There is no right order to visit the sites in. If you plan to visit between May 30 to August 30. “History Comes Alive” in Springfield will be happening. There will be a lot of special things to see and do. You can interact with Union soldiers, meet former presidents (not the real ones) and much more. Visit the Official Springfield Illinois Area Travel Information Site for times and dates.
Old State Capitol
Abraham Lincoln began his political career in Springfield as a representative from New Salem and you can see where he took his seat as an Illinois legislator. His body lay in state in the building as well. You can visit the site without taking a tour but there is a lot to be learned if you are willing to be led by a knowledgeable guide. Tours are offered on a regular schedule so please check when you arrive when the next one is being offered.
Lincoln Herndon Law Office
This is another site that must be visited on a tour, at least to get off the ground floor!! It is well worth the effort just to be able to place your feet on the same original floor that Lincoln walked on. This writer couldn’t resist the temptation to place her hand on that floor and touch where the great man walked. There is a museum of sorts with exhibits at ground level that can be enjoyed while you are waiting for your tour to begin. There is a lot of information to be gleaned from a visit here including what an indulgent father Lincoln was.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Operated by the National Park Service, the family home of Abraham and Mary Lincoln must be visited on a guided tour. There is a visitor center where the free tickets can be procured. Two films are offered in the visitor center and it is a good place to start any visit. You need to be able to climb stairs to visit this house. It is one of the most important sites for those who want to meet Lincoln the man, not just the president.
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
This is one of the most intensive places to visit. It is also the most popular of the presidential library sites. Allow plenty of time, several hours at least to enjoy all the information that is available here. Lincoln’s life is divided into the years before the presidency and the presidential years. Both parts are packed with exhibits. There are also two presentations offered in theatres that you need to squeeze in between everything else. In addition to the permanent exhibits there is a temporary exhibit space. If you need to eat, the building has a Subway Restaurant where you can grab a bite to renew your energy.
Lincoln Tomb Oak Ridge Cemetery
The final resting place of the 12th President is a major attraction in Springfield. For a few months in the warm weather on Tuesday evening you can be a part of the flag lowering ceremony at the tomb. It is a very emotional experience with soldiers in period costume and the playing of taps. You can also visit the grave while you are there for a few minutes after the ceremony. Be sure to check the schedule to avoid disappointment.