After seeing all our friends leave town for the beaches for spring break, our family (kids’ ages 14, 12 and 10) wanted to say we "went somewhere" but didn’t have the time to get away for the entire week. After studying Illinois and our state’s government in school, we decided to take a 3-day/2-night trip to see first hand what our state capital, Springfield, Illinois, was all about.
Our first stop was Lincoln’s New Salem, a reconstructed historic village where Abraham Lincoln, our nation’s 16th president, worked as postmaster, studied law, and was elected to legislature. Costumed interpreters educated visitors on what life was like in this village 150 years ago. We then proceeded to our hotel, The President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center, located in downtown Springfield. The period décor, comfortable and clean rooms, indoor pool, and restaurant satisfied the young and the "not so old" in our family. The best part of all was that we parked the car for the rest of our stay in Springfield, as this location was within walking distance to all our attractions.
On day 2 we packed it all in and began at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The Visitors Center welcomes tourists to this 4-block area, restored to its 1860s appearance. Here we toured the Lincoln family home and outdoor exhibits. We then walked to the Illinois State Capitol where we took a self-guided tour, admiring the beautiful structure and artwork within the building, and passing by our governor’s office and the House of Representatives and Senate Chambers. The Old State Capitol was our next stop, just because we had to compare the old with the new! This turned out to be a favorite attraction. A tour guide led us through this building, where Lincoln tried hundreds of cases as an attorney. After a quick stop at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices where we viewed historical artifacts and pictures, we ended our day at the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This stop was the highlight of our trip. It offered an in-depth view of the life of Abraham Lincoln through artifacts, high-tech exhibits, films and interactive displays.
As we left Springfield the next day, we made our final stop at Oak Ridge Cemetery to tour the Lincoln Tomb. Our kids had a really good time on our short adventure –- and they actually learned something too!
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Carrie Russell, mother of 3 and teacher, is a member of the Orbitz Parent Panel by marriage.