Find a perfect combination of culture, history, family fun and quirkiness in Springfield, Illinois.
The state capital is best known as the home of Abraham Lincoln for the 17 years prior to him becoming the 16th president of the United States. Springfield also has plenty of Route 66 history, hosts a huge annual car show, offers plenty of local fare and is incredibly fun to visit.
Lincoln’s Life in Springfield
Everywhere you look in Springfield, you will find tributes to Abraham Lincoln. First, I toured the only home he ever owned. Next stop, the law offices where Lincoln worked with his colleague, charging just $5 for some cases. The offices are on the corner of a quaint street opposite the Old State Capital Building, where today locals reenact Civil War scenes. After a fascinating tour, I headed to the Lincoln Depot, where Lincoln offered his farewell speech before boarding the train to Washington, D.C., to be inaugurated as president. I visited the Lincoln Tomb, which is simply beautiful. Situated in Oak Park Cemetery, the tomb is the second most visited grave in the country, right behind Arlington National Cemetery. Lincoln, his wife and three of their children are buried here. Outside, there is a gold bust of Lincoln; lore says those who rub his nose will receive good lucky. To finish off my history tour of Springfield, I went to the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the State Capitol building. Both places are beautiful and incredibly interesting and fun stops for people of all ages.
"Ghosts in the Library" special effects presentation at the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Springfield’s Hidden Treasures
Springfield is a favorite place for Route 66 fans because of its many nostalgic places to visit. My first stop was The Chili Parlor. It’s always made just how you want it: mild, warm or super-hot, with or without oil and with or without meat. Mine was mild and delicious. The other food stop I needed to make was at the Cozy Dog Drive In, which is famous for its corn dogs, so of course I had to try one – and then a second! Finally, I was able to drive on an original section of the iconic Route 66 highway, and the experience was really quite moving.
Route 66 memorabilia at Cozy Dog Drive In
International Route 66 Mother Road Festival
For three days at the end of September, Springfield hosts a huge car show with the finest hot rods you can imagine. This is wholesome family fun at its finest whether you’re a car fanatic or not. At night, bands play as almost 1,000 cars drive through town in a parade.
With an American beer in hand, the sun setting, classic rock blasting and cars revving, I fell in love with Springfield.
Cars on display at the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival in Springfield