Illinois is quite well known for its major tourist attraction- Chicago. But, the capital city- Springfield is no less of a surprise! All my history geeks know what I’m talking about here. Springfield is well known for being Lincoln’s hometown right till he became the president. Most of the places in Springfield have some kind of memory of him. However, this is not all! Springfield offers some good sights for adventure as well as nature lovers too! Let us have a look at all the treats that Springfield has to offer.
Relive the old days in the house of Abraham Lincoln
Visit the most important tourist attraction of Springfield- The house of our very own Abraham Lincoln. He lived in this house comprising of two floors with his wife till he became the president of the United States. The house was built in 1839. The Lincoln family started living here from 1844 till his presidential election in 1861.
Every day there is a crowd of people waiting outside the house just to have a look at it. There are tours operated by rangers who accompany you as you go around the house having 12 rooms. They offer free tickets, but they are sold immediately as soon as the house opens up.
Face history once again at Old State Capitol
The Illinois government had its main center at the Old State Capitol. It is a building of great historical significance that was constructed back in 1837 in a completely different Greek architecture style. Lincoln played the role of the state legislator in this building.
It was in this very building that the great Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln had some of the most important heated political arguments. It served the government from the beginning of 1839 right after its construction till 1876 when the need for a new State Capitol was seen. The building has been reconstructed in the 1960s and is now open for the public to go and learn about the important things that have ever happened here. It was right in this place that the infamous speech- "House Divided" of Lincoln occurred.
Admire the interior of the new State Capitol
Illinois was a state that was growing rapidly. It flourished and soon a time came when the Old State Capitol was just not enough to accommodate all the activities.
This was the time when a new building was constructed for the sake of the growing state and then official things were soon moved from the old one to the new one. As the course of time went on, the New State Capitol became quite important and almost replaced the old one. The first session of this new State Capitol was held in 1877. The new building also happens to be one of the tallest housings in all of Springfield even today. You can book a lot of tours that will guide you throughout the building as it is now open for the public to come and view it.
Learn more about the hero himself at Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site
Located in the same street just opposite the Old State Capitol Building, are a lot of historic buildings and structures that hold close memories of Abraham Lincoln. Some of the most significant buildings are the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices.
Abraham was a lawyer who worked in this very office. It also happens to be important for the fact that it is the last building that is still standing where Lincoln has worked. There are guides available who will show you the floor where he worked and what cases he worked on. It is said that he served from the year 1843 to 1852 in the office of the 3rd floor.
Look at the beautiful city from Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon
Located in the middle of Washington Park, Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon stands tall. Comprising 12 stories, the tower provides really good lookout points. Three decks are there situated at three different levels. There are 67 bells on that tower that have been imported and are beautiful. You can take a good look at them while you are up too. The lush green scenery that surrounds the tower is a visual treat too. It hosts many events and festivals. There is an annual festival- International Carillon Festival that is celebrated here. Tourists flock during that time every year.
Learn about the war in Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the museum are two separate buildings. But, they are joined by a skywalk in between them. The library has every document on history that you want- papers that have been passed and signed by Lincoln himself, all the documentaries on the Civil War, old newspaper cuttings, American old maps, other papers, and documents on Native American history.
The museum that is located opposite the library has a wide variety of items showcased. The museum has portrayed various important moments of Lincoln’s life beautifully.
Pay your respects at Lincoln’s Tomb
Oak Ridge Cemetery is the place where the president and his wife rest. It also happens to be the resting place of the graves of his three children- Edward, William, and Thomas.
There is a 117-foot-tall granite tomb built concerning Lincoln’s grave, There is also a place reserved for the option of other family members but they have not been buried there. The structure is entirely made up of marble and pays respect to not only the Lincoln family but also other soldiers who have given away their lives for the country.
Visit the Dana-Thomas House
The Dana-Thomas House is a piece of majestic art in itself. Frank Lloyd Wright was an infamous architect. He built a lot of houses that have an exclusive Prairie-style architecture, and this happens to be one of his firsts.
The place is magnificently spacious and has an area of 12,000-square-foot. Having 35 rooms that are joined by more than 250 doors made of glass having intricate detailing on them. The architecture is something that you can gaze at for hours. You have to book a tour before you visit.
Enjoy your time at Adam’s Wildlife Sanctuary
Miss Adams gave away her entire plot as well as the gardens around it to the Illinois Audubon Society. Now, it is maintained by the Illinois Audubon Society as a non-profit organization. The entire land is 40 acres and has lots of hiking trails where you can easily hike around and test your fitness.
You can also play a visit to the Adam House which is historically important. The house that was built in 1850 is still standing grandly inviting all the travelers. The land is now known as Adams Wildlife Sanctuary which is home to wetlands as well as woodlands. You can often find a lot of migratory birds flying around the sanctuary.
Sit in the greenery of Washington Park Botanical Garden
Being situated in the prime location of central Illinois, Washington Park Botanical Garden serves a lot of purposes. It acts as an educational center as well as a well-known tourist attraction. The park is built on land that stretches for more than 20 acres. More than 1800 species of both known and unknown plants are found in this horticulture garden.
The most important gardens present in the park are a rose garden that has almost 5000 rose plants, an outdoor cactus garden, an iris garden. There is also something especially for the visually impaired- a garden that has different scents and textures. The park offers several educational tours as well as walking tours throughout the year and is an exceptionally pretty place to spend a day at.
Witness the diversity at Illinois State Museum
The headquarters of the Illinois State Museum is located here in Springfield. It also happens to be a museum of natural history. Apart from being a museum of natural history, the Illinois State Museum of Springfield has a vast variety of art pieces and sculptures that it portrays proudly.
Its foundation dates back to 1877 and it has only grown since then. Right now it has a space of almost 100,000 square feet that showcases famous art, historic pieces, and anthropology. You can also learn a great deal about the heritage of Native America. You can take your children along with you as they have various interactive sessions suited for children including science and history lessons.
Watch the honorary soldiers at Camp Butler
Camp Butler used to serve as the training grounds, prison, and even a hospital during the times of the Civil war. But, all of that was ruined after the war. Now, all that remains is a cemetery that was made to bury the soldiers who lost their lives in the war.
It serves as a resting ground for other American Veterans of the war too. There are a lot of special ceremonies that are observed on these grounds on important days. Veterans Day and Memorial day are especially celebrated here.
Witness the oldest house in Springfield
Want to see the oldest house in Springfield? Yes, it is still there, standing tall and proud! The house of Elijah Iles is claimed to be the oldest one in Springfield. Built back in 1832, it is something that people go to see nowadays. William Vigal completely designed and structured this house for Elijah Iles.
It is also said that Elijah Iles was among the ones who settled in Springfield first. He also had a store that is acclaimed to be the first store in Springfield. Of course, it is not entirely undamaged. There were a couple of remodelings that needed to be done to the roof and the walls. Now, it serves as an aesthetic tourist site.
Plan a picnic at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Garden
The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Garden is a 100-acre garden that is entirely maintained by volunteers. The American boys and girls’ scout initiated the building of this beautiful park by planting many acorns. The little acorns that were planted back in 1936 have all now grown up to be gorgeous oak trees.
Walking trails and wooden benches decorate this massive park, and it is home to thousands of native plants too. Some of the plants that are found here actually belong to Indiana and even Kentucky. This is a perfect place to sit down, relax, and have a good old picnic with your family. Also, on these wooden benches, there are several quotes carved- each of them is something that is quoted by Lincoln himself.
Honor the African-American history of Illinois
The African-American History Museum was founded to just acknowledge the huge African-American history of Springfield, Illinois. You can find a lot of historic pieces that depict various stories, tales, and documents of the African-Americans. It also tells us stories about how much they struggled. It is a cultural museum where the entry fee is zero. They do accept donations for the welfare of the struggling African-Americans.
This brings us to the end of our Springfield tour. As you all saw it, this place might seem like a paradise to all the history buffs out there. Even if you are an admirer of good old architecture- Springfield will be a delightful visit for you. Have had enough of history and architecture? Just sit in one of the vast green gardens and have a picnic with your friends or family!