A Lincoln look-alike in the Old State Capitol, during the city’s History Comes Alive festival
Taking in Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Illinois State Capitol's beautiful architecture
Outside of town, the historic brick stretch of Route 66
Sampling the wine at Danenberger Family Vineyards
The classic Cozy Dog Drive In restaurant, a legend of Route 66
Live music at Boondocks Pub, honored as Nightclub of the Year in the 51st annual Academy of Country Music Awards
Water sports thrills on Lake Springfield
Inside the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Classic neon signage at the Route 66 Drive-in theater
History comes alive in the Land of Lincoln
Major Americana on Route 66
The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway passes straight through Springfield’s city center. Not-to-miss stops in Springfield include Cozy Dog Drive In, where the Waldmire family still serves the classic Cozy Dog they have been serving since their grandfather opened the restaurant in 1949. Fun fact: The cozy dog is believed by many to be the original corn dog. Traveling by car? Enjoy the quintessential 1950s experience at the Route 66 Drive-In Theater, presenting movies on two screens April through September. Grab a drink and a bite to eat at Motorheads Bar, Grill & Museum, where every square centimeter of wall space is decked out with racecars, antique road signs and Route 66 memorabilia. Twenty minutes from Springfield, snap a selfie on the original, hand-laid stretch of Route 66 brick road near Auburn, dating back to 1931 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A visit to Springfield isn’t complete without exploring the life of Abraham Lincoln in the town he called home for 30 years. Begin with the exhibits at the Springfield Visitors Center, located on the first floor of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices where the future president practiced law from 1843 to 1852. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, unlike any presidential museum in the U.S., uses special effect theaters and interactive exhibits to tell his story. Tour the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Lincoln’s New Salem (a reconstruction of the village where he lived as a young man), the Old State Capitol (where Honest Abe gave his “House Divided” speech) and the Lincoln Tomb and Monument, the final resting place for the president and most of his family, located in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Be sure to rub the nose of his bronze head before you leave; according to Town & Country magazine, it’s considered one of the luckiest actions in the world.
Venerable Structures and Sites
The stunning 123-meter glass dome atop the Illinois State Capitol – the sixth to house the center of Illinois government – emphasizes the building’s Renaissance Revival and Second Empire style. View the capitol’s architecture and artwork throughout the building, or take a seat in the balcony to watch the legislature if it’s in session. In the shadow of the capitol building is the Illinois State Museum, where exhibits range from Lincoln artifacts to an impressive collection of antique French paperweights to educational dioramas depicting the prehistoric lives of Native American tribes. Two important residences round out your Springfield tour. First, visit the Edwards Place Historic Home, the oldest house in Springfield on its original foundation. It holds the “courting couch” where a young Abraham Lincoln wooed Mary Todd. Afterward, head over to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Dana-Thomas House to gaze at the architectural master’s signature approach to homebuilding. With 35 rooms and 1,114 square meters of living space, the home’s Prairie Style art glass, fixtures and furniture will impress even novice architecture fans.
Springfield’s “Horseshoe” sandwich was created in 1928 and is served open-faced on Texas toast with meat or veggies, French fries and a delicious cheese sauce.
Route 66 travels directly through Springfield where you can find the Cozy Dog Drive In, home of the original hot-dog-on-a-stick (corn dog).
The Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield is 22 meters taller than the nation’s Capitol Building in Washington D.C.