If You Come to Springfield, Illinois to See the Lincoln Sites

A word of advice for those of you who may decide to come to beautiful :rolleyes: Springfield, Illinois to see the Lincoln sites:

Many people come to town and head straight for the Lincoln Library. They dutifully follow their maps to 326 S 7th St, park their cars at the metered parking, see the big, impressive post-modern building right there next to the Municipal Center (lovely fountain, btw), and walk right into… Springfield’s public lending library.

It’s a beautiful building (if 60’s postmodernism is your thing). It’s conveniently located downtown. It’s a gem among urban libraries. But it’s not what you’re looking for. Just ask the librarian - every day she tells at least two dozen beleaguered and confused tourists that they’re at Springfield’s public lending library, and that the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum" (warning: Flash) is about a mile to their north.

Please keep this in mind when you come to town. The Lincoln Library and Museum are at 209 N 6th Street. They’re both big, yellow sandstone buildings with big rotundas. You can’t miss them. There’s a parking garage about a block to your north, on the left-hand side of the street.

By the way, for my money, the best tourist site in Springfield is the somewhat-overlooked Dana-Thomas House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed mansion. Don’t miss it!

And when you’re hungry for supper, head over to D’Arcy’s Pint for a breaded tenderloin horseshoe!

I’m actually bringing WhyKid and friend there sometime soon. I don’t like the way the school is arranging their field trip*, so I told them we’d make our own. Any other suggestions? Boys, aged 13, learned Gov’ment last year in social studies.

*Too many kids, not enough chaperones, plus they want to make it a single day trip with 900 students - from the north side of Chicago. These things never go well. WhyKid begged me to let him stay home.

Tiburon took me to rub Lincoln’s nose at the tomb. No getting lost for me!

Hey, my mom works there!

Hey, Lincoln Library (the public, book-lending one) was there first (and was named that before the present building was built)—why should it be the one to change its name? :smiley:

At least the Lincoln Home Visitors Center is only half a block away; librarians can send people there.

If it’s not too late in the year and you don’t mind going about half an hour out of your way, you could take them to Lincoln’s New Salem, a historic village maintained as it was when Lincoln lived there before moving to Springfield.

When you get to your hotel, grab a downtown Lincoln sites map. You’ll need it. If you’re not staying overnight, e-mail me off-boards and I’ll snail-mail you one.

If you’re staying at a hotel downtown, walk to the Lincoln Museum. Otherwise drive to the Museum and park your car at the museum parking. It’s cheap - like $.50 per half-hour, I think.

Start your day at the Lincoln Museum, and get there as soon as it opens (especially if you’re there on a Saturday). Plan about 3-4 hours, more if your kids are REALLY into Lincoln. There’s an exhibit of political cartoons from the day that most visitors walk right past, but if you were to read them all, you could easily spend half an hour on it. Ditto for the Civil War photographs exhibit. Ditto also for the Campaign 1860 exhibit. Don’t miss the Through Lincoln’s Eyes and Ghosts of the Library shows! Admission is $7.50 and includes the shows.

After you leave the museum, walk south toward downtown. Walk right past the Abraham Lincoln Presidential library - it’s a research library, and there’s really nothing in there for tourists. Check out the Old State Capitol and go inside and take the tour (about 45 minutes) - Lincoln was a state legislator there for a period of time. At the southeast corner of the OSC is the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office, which may or may not be open. I’ve never been inside, so I can’t comment on it. Admission to the OSC and Law Office are free.

By now you should be hungry for lunch, so find somewhere to eat downtown. I recommend Robbie’s, the Feed Store, or Augie’s Front Burner, all of which are within a block of the OSC.

Go back and get your car, and head for Lincoln’s home. Take the tour. Admission is free.

Now head for Lincoln’s Tomb. Rub his nose for good luck, and then go inside. Please be quiet and respectful while you’re inside, or the guard will ask you to leave. Admission is free.

Now it should be about 3:30-4:00, and you have a difficult decision to make. If it’s not too cold (or raining) you can drive about 25 miles to Lincoln’s New Salem State Park. It’s a re-creation of the pioneer village where Lincoln lived when he first came to central Illinois. Do note that all of the buildings are reproductions. Still, it’s a fun experience, and your boys may soak it up. Or they may not. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $1.

The other choice is to stay in town and head for the Dana-Thomas House. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $3.

By now you should be getting hungry for supper. Head to D’Arcy’s for a shoe for supper. Or, if your boys want to eat at a Route 66 landmark with mediocre food, there’s always the Cozy Dog Drive In.

Downtown Springfield is a confusing maze of one-way streets and dead-ends. For this reason, I recommend that you use your feet to go from downtown hotels to the museum and the OSC. Lincoln’s home is about a mile or so from the OSC, and it has convenient parking, so it’s OK to drive there. Lincoln’s Tomb is almost outside of town, so it’s better to drive there.

Hope this helps!

Helps? Helps! You’ve planned my whole day for me! You’re wonderful! Thanks so much!
OK, abuse of exclatation points. Blame it on the cold medicine. But sincerely, thank you so much. :smiley:

**HeyHomie ** what part of SprinPatch do you hail from??

I went to Laphier in 76…graduated from Pleasant Plains in '78…

Lived on what was, the far west side. I still come up about every other week.

I grew up in the Harvard Park neighborhood. Now I live on the northeast side, near North Grand & Dirksen Parkway.

My first home in Spring’ld was in Northgagte, Stonehenge and Sangamon…right in your area? ehh?


Err, you would be doing folks a kindness to explain what a horseshoe is first…

The Horseshoe is Springfield, Illinois’ local specialty.

Take a piece of bread. Ideally, it sould be a thick piece of Texas toast, but a slice of Wonder Bread will do in a pinch. Toast the piece of bread and put it on a plate.

On top of the bread, put some meat. All places that serve horseshoes will offer you a variety of meats: hamburger, ham, turkey, corned beef, pork tenderloin, Buffalo chicken, etc. Some even offer abominations such as shrimp and bratwurst. Don’t go there.

On top of the meat, pour some french fries.

On top of the french fries, pour some cheese sauce.

You have a horseshoe. MMmmmmmmmmmmmm. :smiley:

HeyHomie’s already answered this one adequately, but in case you want to see what Wikipedia has to say… (The horseshoe pictured there seems to have the fries on top of the cheese sauce. This strikes me as inferior, though I’ve had 'em both ways.)

Horseshoes are ubiquitous in Springfield and the surrounding area. You’ll find them on the menu of many a locally-owned, honest-American-food type restaurant hereabouts.

Sorry to resurrect this oldish thread, buy I’m curious as to how this went for you.

My SIL made this trip a year or so ago, and she said it was just fantastic. We will probably stay overnight so we can linger a bit at some of the cooler exhibits. I’m hoping to do it in early June before it gets too hot.

Ummm… wasn’t Lincoln born in Kentucky?

Woah, that’s kind of creepy! Yesterday I started the planning stages, now that it’s springish, and Search couldn’t find this thread for me. Obviously, the hamsters like you better. :wink:

The plan for the moment is to bring a 7 person homeschool group (which we’re not part of, but friends with) along with my son and his friend down in late May, with at least 3 parental units, probably more. Our theory was that’s probably nice weather but not too crowded, since most schools are still in.

As it turned out, WhyKid did go along with his school group (that’s a rant for another day), and while he had fun, that same night he couldn’t tell me a single actual piece of information, either about Lincoln’s life or the State legislature. And he’s actually very interested in government and history, but the trip wasn’t conducive to actual learning. He was able to tell me that the buses had toilets and they watched four movies, though. Your tax dollars at work, folks.

Yes he was, why?

I’d second the Dana-Thomas house. We really enjoyed it when we went, shortly after it opened to the public, I think.

Although with kids I don’t think I’d choose it instead of New Salem.

Just out of curiosity, is life expectancy in that same region roughly 20 years?

Having had one, that may be optimisitic.