A city where President Abraham Lincoln practiced law and met his wife, Springfield, Illinois, is a perfect place to visit for both nature lovers and history buffs. With a population of about 100,000 residents, this small state capital is home to many interesting attractions ranging from a bunch of monuments dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and excellent museums to picturesque parks and botanical gardens. Modern day Springfield IL also boasts a lively music scene with many jazz and blues venues. To help you choose where to go, here is a list of the best things to do in Springfield, IL.
1. Lincoln Home
A two-story home where Abraham Lincoln lived before he became President, Lincoln Home National Historic Site is actually the only building Lincoln ever owned. This historic Greek revival home is one of the most popular attractions in Springfield and offers free admission to its visitors. If you wish to see dozens of exhibits, learn more about our former president, or see a film about Lincoln’s life, including this 12-room mansion in your travel itinerary.
2. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
A visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Illinois. This extraordinary library and museum is home to numerous important artifacts ranging from family letters of the Lincoln family and original copy of the Gettysburg Address to many temporary exhibits. Recent US Presidents including George W. Bush and Barack Obama have visited this amazing library and museum that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln.
3. Lincoln Tomb & War Memorials
Located within the Oak Ridge Cemetery, Lincoln Tomb & War Memorials is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln. The president was assassinated in 1865 and by the wish of his wife; his remains were brought back to Springfield where he was buried. As for the site itself, this large mausoleum with a 35-meter high obelisk is a sight to behold. The tomb with recreations of important Lincoln statues is open for travelers daily until 5 pm.
4. Dana-Thomas House
Designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd, Dana-Thomas House is a place where visitors can admire the beauty of the largest Wright art glass and furniture collection. This 12,000 square feet building offers guided tours of its 35 rooms that are spread across 16 levels. The tour lasts for about an hour and there is no admission price, making Dana-Thomas House one of the best free things to do in Springfield, il. Architecture fans will instantly fall in love with this Japanese-inspired house.
5. Illinois State Museum
Located just a short walk from Dana-Thomas House, the Illinois State Museum is a real haven for all you art lovers. With nearly 100,000 square feet of space and a variety of exhibits on art, anthropology, and natural history, it’s easy to see why Illinois State Museum is one of the most visited museums in the region. Travelers will also have an opportunity to see an impressive collection of antique paperweights, as well as the on-site Mary Ann MacLean Play Museum which is a nice venue for kids who wish to enjoy interactive science-based activities.
6. Old State Capitol State Historic Site
Springfield’s tallest building, the Old State Capitol used to be the center of local Illinois back in the 19th century. Former president, Abraham Lincoln worked here as a state legislator and gave the famous House Divided speech at this historic site. Nowadays, Old State Capitol is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places and offers guided tours that last for about 30 minutes. Visitors can view the building’s primary chambers, libraries, and the supreme courtroom.
7. Knight’s Action Park
A fun local amusement park, Knight’s Action Park is a great place to visit if you are traveling with children. There are two sections at this adventure park: The Splash Kingdom and the Action Park. The Splash Kingdom boasts nearly 10 water slides, a giant wave pool, and an awesome lazy man river, while the Action Park features an indoor arcade, mini-golf, go-karts, batting cages, and a Ferris Wheel.
8. Henson Robinson Zoo
Animal lovers will want to pay a visit to the Henson Robinson Zoo in Springfield. Home to animals from South America, Australia, Africa, and North America, this fabulous zoo features about 100 species of both exotic and native animals. From seeing all these magnificent creatures in their natural environment to daily feeding events and workshops, a visit to the Henson Robinson Zoo is the ultimate activity for the whole family.
9. Washington park
Looking for date ideas in Springfield, IL? Visit the beautiful Washington Park Botanical Garden with that special someone and explore the best horticultural attraction in the state of Illinois. With more than 2,000 plant species spread across 20 acres of land, this leafy botanical garden oozes charm on every turn. From a picturesque rose garden to annual flower beds and a large indoor greenhouse where thousands of warm-climate plants can be found, there is plenty to look forward to when exploring this charming park.
10. Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site
Located just across the street from Old State Capitol, Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site is basically the only surviving building where the former president Abraham Lincoln worked as a lawyer. This modern recreation of his offices features an exhibit gallery and an audiovisual theater. On the second floor, visitors will come across a period federal court. An educational video and a guided tour of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site is available for visitors.
11. Edwards Place Historic Home
If you wish to hear personal stories about our former president, make your way to the Edwards Place Historic Home which was constructed back in the 19th century and served as a gathering place for many local politicians including President Lincoln who came here to attend events like summer picnics and dinner parties. Nowadays, this historic home is a museum where you will find period furniture including the couch on which Lincoln and his wife used to sit often.
12. Scheels Springfield
There are many places to go shopping in Springfield, IL, and Scheels Springfield offers the best shopping experience in the city. Whether you wish to find gear for outdoor activities like fishing and camping or want to purchase branded clothes, this place has it all. Apart from the shopping store, the building is home to attractions like the 65-foot Ferris wheel and a 16,000-gallon aquarium that can be found at the front entrance. There is also an on-site arcade where your kids can enjoy those old-school video games like Pacman.
13. Illinois State Fair
Every summer, Springfield hosts the annual Illinois State Fair. From grandstand shows to world-renowned performers, this state fair offers the best entertainment in Illinois. Attend all types of events during the fair ranging from tractor pulls and automotive and horse races. The on-site multi-purpose area hosts live entertainment and music shows. If you are visiting Springfield in summer and wish to enjoy entertainment stages throughout the fairgrounds, Illinois State Fair has got you covered.
14. Southwind park
An 80-acre park located within the grounds of the Springfield Park District, Southwind Park is home to many urban trails, wetlands, picnic pavilions, and sports courts. There are also three fishing piers, as well as a ramped tree house and a playground for the little ones to enjoy. Don’t miss the music podium and its nightly light show and see some of the park’s best eco-friendly features such as solar panels and a wind turbine.