Although there are more than 30 Springfields in the United States, only one is home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. From historic sites to craft breweries, here’s what you need to see, do, eat, and drink in Springfield, Illinois.
With seven continents, nearly 200 countries, and more than 7.5 billion people in the world, there is a lot to experience. The world is so vast and amazing that even the most avid traveler with a large bank account couldn’t truly do it justice in one lifetime!
Through the Everyday Postcard series, one of the world’s everyday wanderers shares postcard-worthy photos and real-life travel experiences to bring a piece of the big wide world to you.
After following in Lincoln’s footsteps and paying her respects at his tomb on the anniversary of his tragic death, Kelly sat down with a craft beer and wrote out this postcard from Springfield, Illinois:
Our trip to Springfield, Illinois, was unexpectedly eventful. We visited lots of the historic sites that are connected to Abraham Lincoln while we were there. We even found out that we happened to be visiting on the day of Lincoln’s death! A little rain didn’t stop us from having a great time.
Can’t wait to tell you more! Kelly
Meet Kelly Blick
Kelly is a travel writer from Saint Louis, Missouri, who loves to tell the stories of Midwest destinations at Greetings from Kelly. She focuses on trips that you can take in a weekend so that your work schedule is one less obstacle to taking more vacations. She’s a self proclaimed “cocktail tourist” who is always on the hunt for the best happy hours.
In addition to her blog, be sure to follow Kelly’s adventures via social media:
For those of us who haven't visited yet, give us an overview of Springfield, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois, is located about an hour and a half north of Saint Louis, and three hours south of Chicago.
Sage Advice: Follow Abraham Lincoln around the capital of Illinois in this interactive scavenger hunt in Springfield, Illinois.
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How did you decide to visit Springfield, Illinois?
After a previously planned trip fell through, we needed a new destination that could serve as a daytrip for us. We didn’t know much about Springfield (other than that we passed through it every time we went to visit my parents) but we were excited to explore the historic sites of the area. I had recently purchased a National Parks Passport and knew that a trip to Springfield could knock out a few of these stamps quickly.
How did you travel to and around Sprinfield, Illinois?
We traveled to Springfield by car, but I was very surprised at how little we used it once we were there. Springfield is very easily accessible by Amtrak, and once you’re there many destinations are close to one another. The only stop we really needed a car to visit was Lincoln’s tomb, but Lyfts and Ubers are abundant in Springfield, Illinois, and you could easily catch a ride to further out destinations.
What's the weather like when you visited Springfield?
We visited Springfield, Illinois, on a day when it was pouring down rain all day long, but we didn’t let that stop us! All of the places we stopped (with the exception of the Lincoln Statue) were indoors, so it was easy to escape the rain. Plus, it was kind of surreal being able to visit Lincoln’s tomb on the anniversary of his death with a somber storm rolling through.
What sights cannot be missed when visiting Sprinfield, Illinois?
If you’re looking for a must-see destination that is Lincoln related, you have to check out the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The exhibits in this museum do their best to bring Lincoln to life with statues of him at different stages of his life accompanied with audio clips of him telling his story. It is a highly interactive museum that is truly perfect for any one of any age.
We spent hours here reading through all the information this museum had to offer and learned so much about the entire Lincoln family. One of the most breathtaking rooms in the entire exhibit was a to-scale recreation Lincoln’s casket laid in state of the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC. You are actually following the footsteps of Lincoln in this exhibit through his childhood to the White House and to have this as the final room of the exhibit truly takes your breath away.
Related Article: Meet America’s Presidents at the Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
Even though Springfield is known as the land of Lincoln, and is full of absolutely magnificent historic sites dedicated to our 16th President, the one spot in Springfield that I would say you cannot miss is the Dana-Thomas House. This house is designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is a labyrinth of beautiful architecture and unexpected features (like a bowling alley in the basement!) It is known as one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “blank check” houses because there was absolutely no limit to what he was able to spend here. As you twist and turn through this seemingly never ending mansion, you’ll understand why they referred to it in this way.
What was your favorite moment in Springfield, Illinois?
We were planning to save visiting Lincoln’s tomb for another trip. A cemetery isn’t my favorite destination and wasn’t high on my list. But once we found out that we were visiting on the anniversary of Lincoln’s death, we knew we had to stop. Unfortunately, we only found this out 30 minutes before the historic site closed. Once we arrived, the park ranger had informed us that we were too late. After some quick negotiating (read: begging) he agreed to let us go inside for one minute.
As he counted down the seconds, we sprinted to the back of Lincoln’s surprisingly large tomb to pay our respects on the anniversary of his death. We profusely thanked the park ranger on our way out. He graciously thanked us for stopping by. Time and time again, park rangers prove that they are a uniquely wonderful group of people.
One of the best parts of travel is experiencing the local flavors. What was your favorite meal in Sprinfield?
We love trying out craft breweries when we travel, and Springfield did not disappoint us.
Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery is just as much a restaurant as it is a brewery. Their large dining room was filled with more families eating dinner than anyone there just for the beer. We followed suit and had a delicious meal. They have vegetarian and gluten free options so anyone will find something they love here. If you’re looking for a more casual meal, you can head out to their bocce garden and enjoy beers, bar food (like pretzels and onion rings), and plenty of yard games.
Buzz Bomb Brewing Co. and Anvil & Forge are two more microbreweries in Springfield that are making some unique brews. These two are not as inclusive, so if you’re bringing the family along, stick to Obed & Isaac’s.
Springfield is also a Route 66 city, and if you want to explore an iconic Route 66 destination, check out Cozy Dog Drive In whose claim to fame is the creation of the corn dog! You won’t find many healthy options here, corn dogs, burgers, fries, and onion rings make up most of the menu, but you can learn more about Springfield’s Route 66 past here while enjoying a quick bite to eat.
What's one thing travelers can't forget to pack when they visit Springfield, Illinois?
With our experience, I highly recommend packing a raincoat and umbrella. The weather in the Midwest can be unpredictable, especially in the spring, and you do not want to be caught without the right gear. Besides that, you’ll need a comfortable pair of walking shoes while exploring Springfield. You’ll be walking through historic sites and museums without many opportunities to sit down and you’ll want to be sure your feet are comfortable so you can go further. It is more likely that you’ll be walking from destination to destination than driving.
I also highly recommend bringing or purchasing a Passport to Your National Parks book for your visit because there are plenty of opportunities to get stamps for your passport while you’re here!