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While you’re planning your trip to Springfield, Illinois, to see the Lincoln attractions, be sure to make time for the Illinois State Museum, especially if you’re traveling with kids. This museum covers the natural history and popular culture of Illinois, and it has a lot of great exhibits that kids will enjoy. There is even a hands-on section for kids to explore.

We’d like to thank Visit Springfield for sponsoring our visit to the Illinois State Museum. As usual, all opinions are honest and our own.

Where is the Illinois State Museum?

Illinois State Museum

The address for the Springfield branch is 502 South Spring Street. If you’re exploring attractions downtown, you will be in the right area. The capital building is nearby.

Here is a closer look at the cool Lincoln Totem Pole out front.

Illinois State Museum

Exhibits Inside the Illinois State Museum


Illinois State Museum

We started on the ground floor with the natural history exhibits, but you could certainly use the elevator to start on another floor. The natural history section, also known as Changes, definitely had my family’s attention. My daughter loves learning about animals.

Illinois State Museum

We learned about the wildlife and weather of Illinois. Kristin loved finding little surprises here and there, like the wolves.

Illinois State Museum

These are near a little theater where you can see a film about the weather in Illinois.

Illinois State Museum

The Illinois Museum has some immersive exhibits; Kristin is always excited to walk through tunnels or caves.

Illinois State Museum

Even Jeff found something entertaining!

Illinois State Museum

At Home in the Heartland

Illinois State Museum

My favorite part of the museum explored the lives of people in the Midwest. This exhibit outlined the history of the people who lived here while including some popular culture that we can all identify from our own lives. Several exhibits are arranged by decade, so it was fun to point out some items from our childhoods to Kristin.

Play Museum

Illinois State Museum Play Museum

Although Kristin is about to “age out” of really getting excited about children’s museums, she still had a great time checking out the Play Museum section of the Illinois State Museum. She is always up for “digging up fossils,” and the Play Museum has a fun opportunity for kids to do that.

Illinois State Museum Play Museum

She also liked checking out the hands-on rocks and specimens.

Illinois State Museum Play Museum

There is a lot to explore in the Play Museum; little ones will want to stay for hours!

Illinois State Museum Play Museum

The Wrap-Up

Illinois State Museum

I’m glad we spent some time at the Illinois State Museum. When we went, we split a morning with this museum and Springfield’s Kidzeum. Click here to read more about our visit there. For us, that was perfect. Afterward, we had lunch downtown at Long Nine Junction, one of our favorite meals on the trip. If you have younger kids, you may need to plan more time for both of these; the kids may not want to leave the children’s museums. We did have a visit to Knights Action Park planned for after lunch, so that was a great incentive to move on. Keep this museum in mind as you plan your family trip to Springfield, Illinois!

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  1. This looks like a great place to visit and right up my alley. Thank you for providing the location. I often see posts and wonder if it will be near where I am going.

  2. I would love to see the Midwest exhibit that is arranged by decade. That sounds like it would be fun to go through the years to see how much has changed.

  3. This looks fun! I would love to play in the digging up fossils demonstration!

  4. When my four were little, we used to go to as many museums as we could. Even today, we still love visiting them. Thank you for such a thorough and excellent review!

  5. The weather area would be my favorite. I grew up wanting to be a storm chaser and obviously settled on something less risky for a career, but still love everything about weather!

  6. I love museums like this. There is always so much for the kids to explore and learn and I get to learn a thing or two as well. That totem pole out from is super fun as well.

  7. Tricia Snow Reply

    This is just what we love to do on vacation. Thanks for the tips!

  8. We enjoy visiting tunnels and caves, therefore I would enjoy the walk through tunnels or caves at this location.

  9. Lived in Chicago for 3 years and never went to Springfield. Looks like a great place to bring family for a fun and educational time!

  10. We visited Illinois twice last year but missed this. We will have to put it on our list for next time for sure.

  11. I love a good museum…and would love to check out the people of the Midwest exhibit especially.

  12. Wow! I didn’t know Illinois had a state museum! I love learning about the natural history of the places we visit. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Taci- Life Beyond Zebra Reply

    This looks like a great day! I love a good museum, I can’t wait to share them with my little on the way one day. This will be a great stop on our quest to see all 50 states too!

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