10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Springfield
The capital of Illinois, Springfield is a national place of pilgrimage. This is where Abraham Lincoln lived and worked prior to his presidency, and where he and his wife are buried. Some of the places in Springfield associated with Lincoln include his house, lawyer's office, tomb, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Other features of interest are the Illinois State Museum and the Dana-Thomas House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
See also: Where to Stay in Springfield
1 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is a public, non-circulating research facility that houses a collection of books, Civil War materials, manuscripts, Illinois newspapers, pictures and maps. The Lincoln collection features over 1,500 original signed Lincoln documents.
Address: 112 North Sixth Street, Springfield
2 Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Lincoln Home National Historic Site is the location of the two-story home of Abraham Lincoln, and the only home he ever owned. Abraham and Mary Lincoln lived here from 1844 until Mr. Lincoln's election to the Presidency in 1861.
3 Dana-Thomas House
The Dana-Thomas House was built in 1902 by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was one of his first major Prairie-style houses. This 12,000 square foot home has over 250 art glass doors and windows, along with many other fine details.
Address: 301 East Lawrence Avenue, Springfield
4 Old State Capitol
The Old State Capitol was the center of Illinois government from 1839 to 1876. Abraham Lincoln served here as a state legislator, pleaded cases before the Supreme Court, and delivered his famous "House Divided" speech at this location.
5 Washington Park Botanical Garden
Washington Park Botanical Garden consists of a greenhouse area, as well as a conservatory which houses tropical plants. Some of the features on site are a 5,000 plant rose garden, a scent and texture garden for the visually impaired, an iris garden, perennial border, a rockery and outdoor cactus gardens. This is an excellent place to visit year round with indoor and outdoor attractions.
Address: 1740 West Fayette Avenue, Springfield
6 State Capitol
As the state of Illinois grew so did the need for more space at the state capitol. As a result, the "old" state capitol was replaced with a new building, and the first legislative session was held here in 1877. The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield is one of the tallest buildings in central Illinois.
7 Illinois State Museum
The Illinois State Museum in Springfield was founded in 1877 as a natural history museum. Today the museum features permanent and changing exhibits on art, anthropology, and natural history. There is also an emphasis on Native American Heritage and the history of Illinois.
Address: 502 South Spring Street, Springfield
8 Lincoln's Tomb and War Memorial State Historic Site at Oak Ridge Cemetery
Oak Ridge Cemetery is the the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife, and three of their children, Edward, William and Thomas. Lincoln's Tomb State Historic Site is a 117-foot tall granite tomb, built to allow for other members of the Lincoln family as well, although they chose not to be buried here. The interior of the memorial was constructed of marble and features a rotunda, and a burial room. Also located in the cemetery are memorials dedicated to Illinoisians who served their country from WWII to the Vietnam War.
Address: 1500 Monument Avenue, Springfield
9 Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site
Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site is housed in a building completed in 1841. It is said to be the only surviving structure where Abraham Lincoln worked as a lawyer. He practiced law on the third floor from 1843-52. The site has been restored and is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Visitors can enjoy an educational video and a guided tour of the historic rooms.
10 Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon
The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Springfield is a 12 story tower located in Washington Park. The structure has three observation decks at different levels that allows visitors to get a close up view of the 67 imported bells, as well as the beautiful surrounding green space.
Where to Stay in Springfield for Sightseeing
For easy access to Springfield's top attractions, the best place to stay is in the city center, preferably within walking distance of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. From here, it's a short stroll to most of the prime tourist sites, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Illinois State Museum, and the Old State Capitol. Here are some highly-rated hotels in or near the city center:
- Luxury Hotels: Springfield has no true luxury hotels, but the following properties are at the top end of the range and lie in the best locations. Only five minutes on foot to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, President Abraham Lincoln Springfield - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel boasts one of the city's best locations for sightseeing and has an indoor pool and 24-hour fitness center. Right nearby, the pet-friendly Wyndham Springfield City Centre adds valet parking and two restaurants, while The State House Inn - an Ascend Collection Hotel, with a fitness center, friendly staff, and free breakfast, is only a few blocks away from the State Capitol.
- Mid-Range Hotels: An easy five-minute stroll to the Presidential Museum and Library, the Carpenter Street Hotel offers free breakfast and parking. The rooms are fresh, comfortable, and modern at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, about a 10-minute drive from downtown. It has an indoor pool and fitness center, as well as a free breakfast. The pet-friendly Drury Inn & Suites Springfield, with free breakfast and dinner as well as an indoor pool and hot tub, is also a drive from downtown attractions, but many chain restaurants are nearby.
- Budget Hotels: About two miles from downtown attractions, the new La Quinta Inn & Suites Springfield has free breakfast and an indoor pool as does the BEST WESTERN Clearlake Plaza, near the Interstate, a ten-minute drive from downtown attractions. Motel 6 Springfield offers clean rooms with wood floors as well as free parking and a seasonal outdoor pool. Pets are welcome at all these budget hotels.