State capital Springfield, population 111,454, is headquarters for President Abraham Lincoln history. Founded as a pioneer settlement in the 1820s, Springfield became the capital of Illinois in 1837. Railroads, coal mining, agriculture and government fueled the city's economy.
Lincoln-related venues are plentiful and detail the president's life from boyhood to burial. Lincoln Home National Historic Site encompasses 4 blocks around Lincoln's home. Tours of the restored house start at the nearby Visitor's Center. Additional exhibits are located in the neighboring Dean and Arnold houses.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum allows step-by-step immersion into Lincoln's life through exhibits and artifacts, including the Gettysburg Address, and special effects theater presentations. State Historic Sites, the Old State Capitol and Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices offer glimpses into Lincoln's 19th century life. Lincoln, his wife, Mary, and three of their sons reside at the Lincoln State Historic Site. Recreations of Lincoln's Tomb, funeral train car, casket, other historical funeral items are on display at the Museum of Funeral Customs.
In the Executive Mansion, the state governor's residence, the Lincoln bedroom is open for tours. Other sites with Lincoln ties include: Camp Butler National Cemetery, Lincoln Depot, Lincoln Ledger, Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center and the Lincoln's Family Pew at the First Presbyterian Church. Trolley tours of these and other sites throughout the city are available.
In addition to Lincoln-centric venues, Springfield offers a variety of visit-worthy war memorials (Korean and Vietnam) and museums. The Illinois State Museum showcases Native American life, Illinois artwork and natural history. Other museums explore, combat aircraft, Civil War photography and firefighting. Americana buffs will enjoy a few Route 66 venues, the Route 66 Heritage Area, Cozy Dog Drive In and Shea's Gas Station Museum, that offer memorabilia and photo opportunities.
Springfield is 200 miles southwest of Chicago and 98 miles northwest of St. Louis, Missouri. It is accessible via Interstate Highways 55 and 72. Lodging options are plentiful and include national hotel chains, campgrounds and bed and breakfasts.