Surprising Springfield, Illinois

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Our next unexpected destination was Springfield, IL. We honestly knew next to nothing about Springfield, but came to be reminded that it was the capital of Illinois and was “The Land of Lincoln”. We took a chance that there would be a spot at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and just showed up and asked. Sure enough, since there wasn’t an event, there were full hook-up spots where we could park our RV for $25 a night. So, we decided to stay 2 nights and see what Springfield was all about. This was our first time paying for a nights stay outside of our Harvest Host, and Thousand Trails Zone Memberships, in the over a month since we took off! I, Emily the deal finder, was extremely happy with that. I heard later, from our friend’s at the blog “Faith Takes Flight”, that for $10 for no hookups, or $20 a night with electricity, you can stay about 20 minutes away at the Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site in their RV area, which we would definitely do next time! This time though, the fairgrounds worked out well for us, even if it did feel like we were possibly in the scene of an eerie movie when we decided to take a stroll through the seemingly deserted fairgrounds. The other RVers here were friendly though, and we enjoyed meeting new adventures, and of course, their doggies.

 

Last minute, we researched “Things to do in Springfield, IL”. We decided that with the couple of days we had here, we would first visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. We went into the welcome center, bought our National Parks Passport to start filling out at each site we visit, got our first stamp in the Passport, the kids earned their first Junior Ranger Badges, and we got tickets for a free tour of the Lincoln Home. The road was also preserved, along with many of the homes on Lincoln’s street. It was really cool to be on the streets that Lincoln walked before becoming president, and being in the home that he raised his family in. We were even in a room where one of his children passed away, and were reminded of all of the heartache that the Lincoln family endured with loss of children, and eventually Lincoln’s tragic death also. After the tour, and walking the street Lincoln walked, since we are always looking for great coffee shops, we headed over to William Van’s Coffee House across the street and enjoyed some good coffee and pastries.

That afternoon, we traveled across town, and paid a visit to the Henson Robinson Zoo, since it was another free zoo on our membership. It was the smallest zoo we have been to so far, but we got to see a bear, monkeys, some big cats, and bald eagles along with other animals too!

The next morning, we found another place that was a small highlight in Springfield, which was “Custom Cup”, a simple, locally owned coffee shop and roastery downtown, not too far from the capital building (pictured above). The coffee was great, and the owner there was super nice to the kids! We recommend you pay, Kendra at the Custom Cup a visit, and get a biscotti too! Kendra was delightful, and since she has kids herself, she told us the Lincoln Museum was a must see, she also recommended the Illinois State Museum as another great place to visit that we will add to our “next time we are in Springfield” list!

We headed over to the Lincoln Presidential Museum. The way the museum was set up was nice as it took you through a walk of Lincoln’s life when he was younger, and then later you got to enter the White House and see what life was like for Abe during his presidency. We didn’t get to spend quite as much time in the museum as we would have liked, but we really enjoyed the shows in the museum, and so did the kids. There was a small “Martha’s Attic” kids area where the kids would have spent more time too! The Lincoln Museum is a must see if you are ever near Springfield! After this trip to Springfield, we came out reeducated, and the children educated, on all there was to know about Lincoln. Now, I am sure that we learned about all of this when learning about Lincoln in school, but being in Springfield and seeing everything first hand really helped bring history to life this week, and the kid’s learned so much!

The kids fell asleep in the car on the way to Lincoln’s tomb, but I, along with other tourists, took a somber walk into the tomb where Lincoln, his wife, and 2 of his kids are buried. Every statue they see now, though, they say it looks like Lincoln! He left a big impression on all of us, I guess!

 

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