As I’ve mentioned before, my family loves to use our travels for education. We especially love anything that has to do with history. For this reason, we adore visiting Springfield, Illinois and have done so on multiple occasions.
What makes Springfield so special? Well, this is where Abraham Lincoln lived for much of his adult life, and the city is very proud of this fact. They are so proud of it that they have created multiple opportunities to learn about President Lincoln’s life, and we have had the pleasure of experiencing nearly every one.
If you’re a fan of history—and especially if you enjoy Civil War history or are a fan of the work President Lincoln did—we highly recommend a visit to this little city. Below we’ve compiled a list of what you can expect to find in the way of Lincoln-related learning opportunities.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
First on our list is the Lincoln Home Historic Site. This site is run by the National Parks Service and is very well presented. Because it’s run by the NPS, you can use your “America the Beautiful” interagency pass for free admission, and there is an excellent Junior Ranger program for young children to take part in.
The main attraction at this historic site is, of course, the Lincoln home. Guided tours are offered throughout the day, and are the only way to see the interior of the home. The house is furnished and decorated as it might have been during Lincoln’s time, and the guides are very knowledgeable and informative.
Surrounding the home are twelve historic structures, all of which date back to Lincoln’s time. Take your time exploring these buildings and imagining what it might have been like to live during the 1860s.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Like most other Presidential Library and Museum attractions out there, this place is incredible. In fact, this is the most visited presidential library in the US, and the museum, archives, and library are 50% larger than any of the other presidential museum sites.
The museum is well put together and has all kinds of awesome artifacts on display. Additionally, the museum runs an immersive performance throughout the day that is both entertaining and educational, and the kids area is perfect for little travelers.
The library is also very nice and well kept. However, being a presidential library, it isn’t as exciting as the museum. This makes it a better option for diehard fans of history who’d like to take a deep dive into President Lincoln’s life and the Civil War.
We recommend visiting this site first, as it covers Lincoln’s life pretty thoroughly, giving you an excellent foundation to build on as you visit the other Lincoln sites in Springfield. It’s also a great place to get kids excited about Lincoln, making it an ideal starting point for families.
Note that this museum is a part of the Time Travelers Reciprocal Program. Members of this program are offered a small discount on tickets. If you’re a member of a history museum, be sure to check if you qualify for this benefit.
Old State Capitol State Historic Site
In order to get a better understanding of Lincoln’s professional life, you might pay a visit to the Old State Capitol State Historic Site. It was here that President Lincoln spent much of his time. He tried cases before the Illinois Supreme Court and borrowed books from the state library in this building. This is also the place where he delivered his famous “House Divided” speech.
The Old State Capitol is open from 9am–5pm each day and guided tours are offered throughout the day, with the last one leaving at 4:15pm. It is, of course, closed on major holidays.
Visitors are not charged an admission fee, but donations are suggested and appreciated.
Edwards Place Historic Home
Another awesome historic site is the Edwards Place Historic Home. Here you can learn about Benjamin Edwards and his family. This family consisted of several prominent Springfield citizens, which often hosted dinner parties and other events attended by the Lincolns.
Guided tours of this house are offered three times a day, Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 per adult and free for children 10 and under.
Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site
Finally, we recommend a visit to the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. This is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife, and three of his four sons.
The site features a lovely monument and is the perfect place to reflect on this great man and all you have learned during your visit. This tomb is open to the public daily from 9am until 5pm.
Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site
This last attraction is not technically in Springfield. However, at only 20 miles away, Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site isn’t too far for a day trip.
The village is a recreation of Lincoln’s childhood hometown and is the perfect place to take a step back in time. Living history events happen often in New Salem, and we recommend visiting during an event if possible.
That said, the self-guided tour of the recreated buildings and homes is also quite enjoyable and worth your time if you’re interested in getting a better understanding of what Lincoln’s childhood might have been like.