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We’d like to thank Visit Springfield for sponsoring our trip to Springfield! As always, all opinions are honest and our own.
Last summer, we had the opportunity to spend a few days in Springfield, Illinois, to visit the Lincoln attractions and everything else Springfield had to offer families. If you’re looking for an awesome Midwest road trip destination for your family that mixes history, learning, and family fun, then Springfield is the place for you!

First Things First: Head to the Springfield Visitors Center

Before you do anything else, stop in at the Springfield Visitors Center in downtown Springfield at the corner of 6th and Adams St. They will give you schedules of any events happening, and they may have some great coupons!

Springfield Illinois Visitor Center

They will definitely answer any questions you have about the area. Be sure to also check out the display of Lincoln’s law office. The building is the Lincoln-Herdon Law Office, after all.

Springfield Illinois Visitors Center

One thing that was fun for our visit was finding “Lincolns” at various locations and then adding a sticker to a little passport book. It was like a scavenger hunt for Springfield! We got the book from the Visitors Center.

Springfield Illinois

We also found out about events like an ice cream social with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln at the Edwards Place.

Edwards Place Springfield Illinois

You can meet Abraham and Mary.

Edwards Place Springfield Illinois

And get your ice cream on.

Edwards Place Springfield Illinois

You can also check out events that may be happening around the Old State House downtown. We happened to see a baseball game in progress.

Old State House Springfield Illinois

And we caught some dancing one afternoon.

Near Old State House Springfield IllinoisIt’s definitely worth a stop at the Visitors Center.

What to Do: The Lincoln Attractions

No trip to Springfield, Illinois, is complete without checking out the Lincoln sites. We’ve written individual posts on each attraction, so feel free to click around to learn more!

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

If you only have time for one Lincoln site, do the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This is one of my favorite museums anywhere, maybe only second to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Kids and adults alike will love the immersive displays. Click here to read our detailed post about our experience!

Lincoln museum

The museum features displays that cover Lincoln’s life along with two shows and temporary exhibits. There is also a place for younger children to play dress-up and play with toys from Lincoln’s time  period. There is something for all ages.

Lincoln museum

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Lincoln Home Springfield, Illinois

Another must-do is visiting the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. You’ll get to walk the streets of Lincoln’s neighborhood and tour the home. Sometimes, you may stumble upon a living history demonstration. Click here to read our detailed post about our visit.

Laundry at Lincoln's Home

The tour is free, but you’ll need to sign up for a tour time and pay for parking.

The Lincoln Tomb

Lincoln TombThis one may not be on the top of your itinerary, but The Lincoln Tomb is worth a stop. Inside, you’ll find some beautiful statues. On the outside, you can rub Lincoln’s nose for good luck! Click here to read more details about our experience.

Gutzon Borglum's Lincoln

Lincoln’s Ghost Walk

If you have older kids, you may want to try Lincoln’s Ghost Walk. We are ghost tour fans, but this one is more about the stories surrounding the Lincoln family and Lincoln’s death.

Lincoln Ghost Walk Springfield, Illinois

The experience is not scary, and you won’t go inside any buildings as you might on a typical ghost tour. Still, we loved hearing the tales, and our guide was a great storyteller. Click here to read about our experience.

What to Do: Family Fun

Of course, there’s more to Springfield than Lincoln. Don’t forget to make memories at other area attractions.


Kidzeum is the perfect place for little ones to get some energy out while learning. We had a great time checking out what this children’s museum had to offer.


Click here to read more details about our morning at Kidzeum.

Kidzeum Healthy Community

Knights Action Park and Route 66 Drive-In

If you’re looking for a place to swim and cool off on a hot summer day, swing by Knights Action Park for the afternoon.

Knights Action Park, Springfield, Illinois

Knights Action Park is home to a waterpark, amusement rides, go-karts, and mini-golf. When the sun goes down, head over to Route 66 Drive-In to catch a movie under the stars. To read about our adventures, click here.

Route 66 Drive-In Theater Springfield, Illinois

Illinois State Museum

The Illinois State Museum is a great way to learn about the state and natural history of Illinois. If your child likes animals and fossils as much as mine does, you will have a great time exploring the museum. Click here to read all about our experience!

Illinois State MuseumWhere to Eat in Springfield, Illinois

We like to find some fun and original places to eat. It’s true we eat our share of familiar chain places, and don’t worry; Springfield has a McDonald’s. But you should also check out these family-friendly spots unique to Springfield. To read an in-depth post of the five fabulous places we ate, click here.

Cozy Dog Drive In

Cozy Dog

Cozy Dog Drive In is an iconic Route 66 stop, and their cozy dogs are the best corn dogs I’ve ever had! They were so yummy, we did a separate post all about them. Be sure to make time for this place while you’re in town; your family will thank you! Click here to read about our experience.

D’ Arcy’s Pint

D'Arcy's Pint Springfield, Il

While you’re in Springfield, you definitely try the signature dish–The Horseshoe. And D’Arcy’s Pint is the perfect place to give it a shot. Yes, that’s melted cheese goodness on top.

Charlie Parker’s Diner

Charlie Parker's Diner Springfield, IL

Maybe you’d like to try the breakfast version of a Horseshoe. At Charlie Parker’s Diner, you can do just that. Here the fries are replaced with hashbrowns and the cheese is replaced with gravy. Delicious!

Long Nine Junction

Long Nine Junction Springfield, ILThis may have been my favorite meal in Springfield, and even my picky daughter picked every last piece of chicken off the bone. Long Nine Junction has delicious farm-to-table dishes and a fun casual atmosphere. It’s also conveniently located downtown.

Tacology 101

Tacology 101 Springfield, IL

Tacology 101 is also located downtown, and it’s a lot of fun. The menu is set up like a college syllabus, and the Mexican dishes are tasty! Fried cheese taco? Yes, please! And don’t forget the churros.

Tacology 101 Springfield, IL

Where to Stay in Springfield, Illinois

While there are several chain hotels away from the downtown area, we were excited to stay within blocks of the Illinois State Capitol.

State House Inn Springfield Illinois

The State House Inn was a convenient place to stay for us. We took little breaks during the day, and it was nice to have a place close to most of the attractions. Everyone was kind, and the hotel is inviting. On our check-out day, we even tried the complimentary hot breakfast. Yum!

State House Inn Springfield IllinoisWe had a one-bedroom suite, and it was perfect for our family of three. This sofa folded out into a bed.

State House Inn Springfield IllinoisWe kept our drinks cold and our snacks handy. The workspace was also nice for this blogging family! The bedroom also had a desk.

State House Inn Springfield Illinois

Other Things Not to Miss in Springfield, Illinois

We had a great time exploring the city. We loved the downtown area and the State Capitol Plaza. There was always something going on, it seemed. You can take a look inside the Old State Capitol.

Old Capital Springfield Illinois

We stumbled upon this Farmer’s Market one morning.

Farmers' Market Dowtown Springfield, Illinois

We didn’t make time to go inside, but you can tour the current Capitol, too.

Springfield Illinois

Springfield Union Station

If you have any train fans in your family, be sure to check out the old Springfield Union Station that’s part of the Lincoln Museum. It’s across the street from the museum.

Springfield Union Station Springfield Illinois

We had fun checking it out.

Springfield Union Station Springfield Illinois

The model train inside is worth the stop.

Springfield Union Station Springfield Illinois

The Lincoln details are amazing.

Springfield Union Station Springfield Illinois

Scheel’s Sporting Goods

Scheel's Sporting Goods Springfield IllinoisThis may seem out of place, but we’d never seen a store like this. We live near Bass Pro Shoppes and Cabella’s, but we’d never heard of this store before.

Scheel's Sporting Goods Springfield Illinois

It’s worth checking out.

Scheel's Sporting Goods Springfield Illinois

And there are presidents everywhere! Mr. Lincoln even speaks and moves!

Scheel's Sporting Goods Springfield Illinois

Our Springfield, Illinois, Itinerary

So how did e fit everything in? I’ll show you. We are a family who likes to be on the go when we travel, so we don’t have a lot of downtime. We can rest at home.

Day One

Arrive at Springfield about 10:00 a.m.

Lincoln Tomb

Lunch at Cozy Dog Drive In

Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Springfield Union Station

Check into State House Inn

Dinner at D’Arcy’s Pint

Lincoln’s Ghost Walk

Day Two

Breakfast at Charlie Parker’s Diner


Illinois State Museum

Lunch at Long Nine Junction

Edwards Place Ice Cream Social with the Lincolns

Knights Action Park Waterpark

Dinner at Tacology 101

Scheel’s Sporting Goods

Movie at Route 66 Drive-In

Day Three

Breakfast at hotel

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

We had a wonderful getaway learning about Lincoln and making memories as a family. I know your family would have fun, too. Be sure to put Springfield, Illinois, on your list of places to explore!

On the way to Springfield, we stopped at Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis. To read about our experience, click here.

Springfield, Illinois
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  1. What a cool place to visit! I love taking my son on trips where we can mix history, learning and fun.

  2. Tricia Snow Reply

    Wow there is so much to do in Springfield. Such a cool spot to visit!

  3. I’m all about history and love touring historical homes! This one is definitely on my list.

  4. We are studying American history this year in our homeschool and I’m thinking this would be a great road trip field trip.

  5. I’d love to visit the Lincoln’s home and if we got to ‘meet’ them, well all the better. I didn’t realize there is so much to do in Springfield. We need to visit.

  6. The Lincoln Museum looks like a place we would love to visit! And what a great idea to have things for the smallest of kids to learn with, like the periodic costumes and toys.

  7. Lisa Manderino Reply

    I love historical travel. This looks like a great place to take the kids and learn and get ice cream of course!

  8. I would love to visit the Presidential Library and Museum and see Lincoln’s house. The living history is a nice touch and I think would be a wonderful way to subtly teach the kiddos!

  9. Growing up we would visit family in Illinois but never saw Lincoln’s hometown. I would really enjoy spending time exploring the town, learning more history, and see what fabulous food in the local restaurants.

  10. Looks like a fun city to explore! I’d love to visit Springfield IL

  11. Cindy Mailhot Reply

    I love historical places and when the history is living history it’s even better. Looks like a great place!

  12. We passed through here last year but did not have time to stop and explore. I have regretted it ever since. We will definitely make time when we pass by again.

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