Springfield is well known as the capital of Illinois and a popular stop on Route 66. Here are some of the best Springfield Illinois attractions that you should definitely check out on a visit to the area.
Springfield Illinois Attractions
When you think of Springfield, you may well think of The Simpsons. Springfield, Illinois is not the home of the fictitious TV characters yet it was the home of someone equally famous: Abraham Lincoln.
There’s never been a better time to visit the capital of Sangamon County, with the opening of the restored Illinois Governor’s Mansion in Springfield and the recent Illinois Bicentennial Celebrations.
1. Lincoln Home National Historic Site
The only home of the Lincoln family, Lincoln Home National Historic Site has been restored to its original appearance. Built in 1860, it gives a fascinating insight into their domestic arrangements. Free guided tours of the home are led by National Park Service Rangers.
It’s not just the house of Lincoln that’s worth seeing here, 12 surrounding buildings are also of historical interest. Often, you can watch people in costumes of the era playing traditional games. They’ll even teach you how to play too!
- Opening hours: 8.30 – 17.00 daily
- Admission: Free
- Address: 426 S. 7th St. Springfield, IL 62701, USA
2. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Whether you’re a history buff or not, you’re sure to love Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. There’s a reproduction of the White House building as it appeared in 1861 and the Treasures Gallery which includes the evening gloves that President Lincoln was carrying on the night of his assassination.
You’ll also see a hand-written copy of the Gettysburg Address and the quill pen with which he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Kids will enjoy Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic, where they can play with reproductions of historic toys, try on clothing of the time and get photos with life-size models of the Lincoln family.
What really sets this museum apart is how the interactive displays and live actors bring the past to life. We won’t spoil the surprise for you but there’s some impressive technology at play including holograms and other special effects.
- Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00 daily
- Admission: fee applies
- Address: 212 N. 6th St. Springfield, IL 62701, USA
3. The Old State Capitol
This imposing building was completed in 1840 and is in the Greek Revival style. It was here that President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous speech, “A house divided against itself cannot stand…” in 1858.
Before becoming the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and he tried many cases in the Supreme Court here. After his assassination, his body lay in state in Representatives Hall. Over 75,000 people paid their respects on 3 and 4 May 1865.
The knowledgeable guides at the Old State Capitol are dressed in the costumes of the time. They’ll answer all your questions about the building and its history.
- Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00 daily. Closed on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
- Admission: By donation
- Address: 1 Old State Capitol Plaza Springfield, IL 62701, USA
4. Illinois State Capitol
Inaugurated in 1888, this ornate building is as stunning on the inside as it is from outside. A striking mix of Renaissance Revival and Second Empire styles, it is topped by a 405 foot glass dome.
The home of Illinois government, it’s also the place where the first Illinois legislative session was held in 1877.
Guided tours take place daily and when legislature is in session, visitors can also watch from the balcony level.
- Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8.00 – 16:30 pm; Saturday – Sunday: 9.00 – 15:30
- Admission: Free
- Address: 401 S. 2nd St. Springfield, IL 62707, USA
5. Lincoln Tomb
Abraham Lincoln’s final resting place is one of the most frequently visited historical cemeteries in the United States. The monument was designed by renowned sculptor Larkin Mead and completed in 1874. Many visitors rub the nose of the bronze bust for good luck.
Inside the tomb, there’s a rotunda with corridors leading to the burial chamber. Lincoln rests alongside his wife Mary and all his children except his eldest son, who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Opening hours: 9.00 – 17.00 daily
- Admission: Free
- Address: 1500 Monument Ave., Oak Ridge Cemetery Springfield, IL 62702, USA
6. Dana Thomas House
Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most famous architects in the world. You can see his unique talent at Dana Thomas House in Springfield, Illinois.
Designed for socialite Susan Lawrence Dana in 1902, it’s a beautiful example of Prairie Style architecture.
Spread over 12,000 square feet, with 16 varying levels and 35 rooms, the house has many distinctive features. There’s a bowling alley, barrel-vaulted gallery and ballroom as well as a walk in safe for Susan’s jewellery and valuables.
Visitors can admire over 100 original oak furniture pieces and 250 art glass doors, panels and windows. Nature is a major focus, with a sumac motif taking centre stage in the dining room. There’s also a strong Japanese influence in the design of the house.
- Opening hours: Monday – Tuesday: 10.00 – 14.00; Wednesday – Sunday: 9.00 – 16.00
- Admission: By donation
- Address: 301 E. Lawrence Ave. Springfield, IL 62703, USA
7. Cozy Dog Drive In
Springfield is known for its Route 66 landmarks, and Cozy Dog Drive In is one of the most popular. This diner has been going strong since opening in 1949, and is known for its cozy dogs.
These corn dogs on a stick are made according to a secret family recipe. The diner’s motto is Try ’em, You’ll Like ’em! and we definitely think you will do!
Cozy Dog Drive In is also renowned for its Route 66 memorabilia. Visitors can purchase postcards that are beautifully illustrated by the late artist Bob Waldmire, son of the founder, Ed Waldmire. Ed’s grandson carries on the family business today.
- Address: 2935 S 6th St, Springfield, IL 62703, USA
8. Route 66 Motorheads Bar, Grill & Museum
This atmospheric bar at 600 Toronto Road, Springfield, has some cool motoring memorabilia suspended from the ceiling. They serve 18 different beers, 4 wines and 4 cocktails on tap.
There’s also the Route 66 & Motor Museum, with many vintage road signs and Route 66 related items. You can admire some fine vintage cars like this Chevrolet. Motorheads is open from 7am, 7 days a week.
- Address: 600 Toronto Rd, Springfield, IL 62711, USA
9. Route 66 Drive-In
In the Summer months in Springfield, don’t miss the quintessential American experience, a drive-in movie. Visitors can park up, purchase snacks from a stall and watch a movie while sitting in the comfort of their car.
10. Historic Route 66
In many parts of the United States, the original Route 66 no longer exists. However, you can actually drive on an old section of Route 66 in Auburn, Illinois. At Curran Road and Snell Road, there’s an original 1.4 mile stretch of Route 66, dating from 1931.
This iconic American road is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. There’s something magical about this red brick road, bordered by cornfields.
It’s definitely a great place for a photo, just make sure that no cars are coming in either direction.
You’ll find Becky’s Barn at 5029 Snell Road . It’s a Route 66 information center, antique store and snack shop with some interesting Route 66 memorabilia.
11. Route 66 Mother Road Festival
Every September, Springfield hosts the Route 66 Mother Road Festival. It’s a celebration of the golden age of Route 66, bringing together over 1,000 cars, 80, 000 visitors , live music and good food.
12.Fun Activities in Springfield
Restaurants in Springfield
Visitors to Springfield can find may great restaurants, including several under the banner Illinois Made. These are a selection of the best food makers, breweries and restaurants in Springfield Illinois.
From Curtis Orchard to Epiphany Farms and Jones Boy’s Markets, there’s a wide range of artisan makers in the Springfield area. Here are a few that we’ve personally tried and can highly recommend:
Engrained – For local craft beers and tasty home cooked meals, you can’t beat Engrained at 1120 West Lincolnshire Blvd, Springfield. Established in 2013, they brew their award winning beers on site and also offer affordable farm to table food.
Custom Cup – If you’re craving a coffee fix, then you’ve come to the right place. Custom Cup are specialized in roast to order and small batch coffee. Their charming coffee store at 319 E Monroe St. also serves delicious homemade cookies.
Where to Stay in Springfield
The Wyndham Springfield City Centre is a very convenient place to stay in Illinois. Located in Downtown Springfield on E. Adams Street, it’s one of the best hotels near Springfield museums.
The Wyndham has spacious bedrooms and a large swimming pool and fitness centre. There’s a rooftop bar with great views of the local area and also Nick & Nino’s Penthouse Steakhouse, a Springfield restaurant that’s popular with locals as well as hotel guests.
Springfield, Illinois is a place where history truly comes alive. It’s not to be missed on a Route 66 road trip. Located in central Illinois, it’s easily reached from Alton, Pontiac, Heritage Corridor and also Chicago. Visitors can fly in to nearby St. Louis or Chicago, take an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus or of course, drive along the famous Route 66.
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