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The Land of Lincoln is no stranger to Civil War Era history. As the home of Abraham Lincoln until the time he left for Washington to take his place as president, Illinois was the site of the famed Lincoln-Douglas Debates and so much more. If you’re looking to explore all of these important historical locations, take a trip through the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, the 42 counties in Central Illinois that tell the story of Lincoln’s life and times in Illinois.

To commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the Illinois Office of Tourism has teamed up with the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition to give visitors a travel itinerary to go “Looking for Lincoln” to discover the “can’t-miss” places  in  the Quincy area that tell the important story of Lincoln and the community during the Civil War Era:

Day 1 – Quincy

Visit the site of one of the famed Lincoln-Douglas Debates in Quincy.

Morning       

Nestled along the Mighty Mississippi River along the western edge of Illinois, Quincy was a frequent stop for Lincoln, and he counted some of its residents among his closest friends. As you begin your trip, a great first stop is The Quincy Museum. Here, visitors will find an interesting overview of the history surrounding the area and its Lincoln connections, as well as Quincy’s status as the “City of Refuge” for early Mormons on their trek west. The Museum is located in a beautiful stone building that served as Quincy’s original public library.

Across the street from the Museum, visit the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Memorial in Washington Park, created by famed sculptor Laredo Taft. Imagine yourself standing amongst thousands of people who had traveled by foot, horse and wagon to listen to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas debate the major issues of the day facing Illinois and the nation.

For an even greater understanding of the significance of the debate and the key players from in and around Quincy, stop by the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Interpretive Center, located just beyond the debate site.

Be sure to check out the Lincoln Gallery Collection as you explore the John Wood Mansion.

Afternoon

After lunch, head over to the John Wood Mansion, the beautifully restored Greek Revival home of Quincy’s founder and 12th Governor of Illinois. In the Carriage House next door, be sure to see the Lincoln Gallery Collection, featuring original artifacts surrounding Lincoln’s life and his assassination.

The Dr. Richard Eells House is a definite “must-see” as you continue your journey. The 1835 home was a stop for runaway slaves as they made their way north to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Quincy was the first “station stop” for slaves as they crossed the border from Missouri, then a slave state.

For more Civil War stories, plan to visit the All Wars Museum, featuring more than 5,000 military artifacts, beginning with the Revolutionary War through present day.

Day 2 – Pittsfield and Nauvoo

Get a front row seat to the battles during Lincoln Civil War Reenactments each June.

Morning

A brisk morning walk through the downtown will take you on the Lincoln Story Trail, with more than 18 Looking for Lincoln Wayside Exhibits that tell stories about the people and places that were an important part of the Abraham Lincoln legacy.

Afternoon

This is the perfect time to look for Lincoln in nearby areas of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. Just a short drive from Quincy is the charming town of Nauvoo. Here, along the banks of the Mississippi, you can step back in time to experience the lives of the early members of the Mormon Church who settled here in 1839. The village of Old Nauvoo sets the stage for prairie life from 1839-1846 through more than 30 historic attractions and year-round living history interpretation.

Take a drive to Pittsfield for the Lincoln Talking House Tour – an audio driving tour that tells the stories of 14 buildings whose early owners played significant roles in the life and times of Lincoln. Many of the buildings are still homes occupied by modern residents of Pittsfield.

 If visiting in the summer, take part in one of the annual “Looking for Lincoln” Signature Events. Held each year on the first weekend of June, Lincoln Days Civil War Reenactment gives you a front row seat as Civil War battles rage before your very eyes between Union and Confederate troops.

These are just a few of the amazing Lincoln attractions found all across the state. To start planning your trip through the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, visit LookingforLincoln.com and EnjoyIllinois.com.

– Illinois Office of Tourism

There’s no better place to learn about the nation’s 16th President than Illinois, the Land of Lincoln! There are many ‘Honest Abe’ stories to be uncovered along the Looking for Lincoln Story Trail that runs through the 42-county area of Central Illinois designated by Congress as The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. Lincoln spent almost 30 years of his life in Central Illinois and through a series of more than 200 sites and wayside exhibits in more than 50 communities, visitors will find the stories of Lincoln’s life and times in Illinois.

To commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the Illinois Office of Tourism has teamed up with the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition to give visitors a taste of how they can travel Illinois to go “Looking for Lincoln,” starting with a three-day trip through Bloomington and Springfield:

Day 1 – Bloomington

The David Davis Mansion in Bloomington was owned by Lincoln’s close friend, Judge David Davis. (Photo courtesy of David Davis Mansion)

Morning

Start your day at the magnificent David Davis Mansion, once owned by Lincoln confidante and close friend, Judge David Davis. Tour this stately 19th century mansion and its beautiful grounds to get a glimpse of artifacts and technologies from the 1800s and to learn more about the social and political life Lincoln knew.

Next, stop at the McLean County Historical Museum, located inside a beautiful old courthouse on the town square. Here you will find many stories of the rich history of McLean County, including the many stories of the local residents who were Lincoln’s contemporaries as he rose from prairie lawyer to the man who would be president. Don’t miss the Visitor Center on the first floor where you’ll find more information on the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, as well as the Illinois Route 66 National Scenic Byway.

Afternoon

Time to hit the road for a short trip south to Lincoln, Illinois; the only city named for Abraham Lincoln while he was still living. Here you will discover a remarkable collection of Lincoln-related artifacts and documents at the Lincoln Heritage Museum, on the campus of Lincoln College. Treasures include rare artifacts from the Lincoln’s home, including dishware, books and mourning clothing that belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln. The museum also has an original correspondence from President Lincoln and information on every member of his cabinet as well as Civil War military leaders.

For a look into the life of Lincoln the lawyer, visit the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site. Step back in time as you imagine yourself arguing a point of law in this rugged, brown-frame building – a replica of the building that served as the seat for Logan County government from 1840-48. Visitors will see exhibits that tell the story of the 8th Judicial Circuit, where Lincoln honed his skills as a successful prairie lawyer.

A visit to Mt. Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site will take you to one of only two remaining 8th Judicial Circuit Courthouses standing on their original site. A frequent stop along the circuit traveled by Lincoln, the courthouse is restored, furnished and interpreted as a 1850s courthouse to give visitors a feel for how Lincoln truly knew it.

As you head toward Springfield, in the heart of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, consider a stop at the Palms Grill Café in Atlanta. Not only is this an iconic stop along Illinois Route 66, but visitors will also find a great Lincoln exhibit upstairs that tells the story of Lincoln’s influence on this charming community.

Evening

Journey on until you arrive in Illinois’ capital city of Springfield. This is the city Lincoln and his family called home for more than 25 years and is the final resting place for Lincoln, Mary and three of their children. Check into your hotel and enjoy a relaxing dinner at any one of the 200 restaurants in the historic downtown area.

Day 2 – Springfield

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in downtown Springfield.

Morning

A perfect first stop on your Lincoln journey in Springfield is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. From the humble beginnings of a young pioneer to the halls of the White House, the story of Lincoln’s life is captured through original artifacts, special effects theaters with high action and ghostly images, and so much more. After exploring all the museum has to offer, step outside to look for Lincoln in the many authentic historic sites and stories told throughout the city.

Just a short walk from the museum is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Here, visitors step into the daily life of the Lincoln family as you enter the only home the Lincolns ever owned. A stroll through the lovely historic neighborhood surrounding the home will give you a rare glimpse of Mr. Lincoln as a husband, father, neighbor and friend.

After your visit, choose from a variety of downtown restaurants offering everything from a quick soup and sandwich to a full midday meal. A walk through the historic streets will also take you to a number of unique boutique stores, antique shops and galleries.

Afternoon

In the center of downtown, you’ll find the Old State Capitol State Historic Site. Here, you can stand in the very spot where Lincoln made his famous “House Divided” speech, as well as where he argued cases before the Illinois Supreme Court and spent countless hours discussing the issues of the day with his colleagues. It was also at this site that Lincoln served as an Illinois state legislator and was laid in state before his burial at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Close to downtown is the Edwards Place Historic Home, the 1850s home of Lincoln’s friends, the Edwards Family. Within the home you can find the famous “Lincoln courting couch,” on which Lincoln and Mary had many conversations while courting, and where a number of their wedding guests sat as they watched the future President and First Lady exchange their vows.

For a step forward in time, be sure to check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House. Originally planned as a remodel project of a Lincoln-era Victorian mansion, this home is one of the finest Wright-designed homes anywhere in the United States. While Wright grudgingly preserved one room of the original Victorian home, the house is known as one of the most complete examples of Wright’s prairie-style design and includes virtually all of the original furniture, light fixtures and stained glass.

Day 3 – Springfield to Bloomington

The Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site in Springfield is where Lincoln, Mary and three of their children are buried.

Morning

As you head back toward Bloomington, on the edge of Springfield, visit Oak Ridge Cemetery, home to the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. Visitors feel the majesty as you gaze upon the stunning granite monument where Lincoln, his wife and three of their four children are laid to rest. Surpassed only by Arlington National Cemetery, Oak Ridge is the second most visited cemetery in the United States.

A short trip off the main highway along the shores of the Sangamon River is New Salem State Historic Site. Explore the reconstructed pioneer village where Lincoln lived and worked as a young man. Immerse yourself in the daily lives of the villagers as living history interpreters bring the stories of Lincoln the store clerk, postmaster and citizen soldier to life. Beautiful in any season, New Salem will take you back to the days of Illinois’ earliest pioneers. A quick drive north will take you to Petersburg, the quaint small town where ancestors of many of the original New Salem families still make their home today. It’s worth a stop to visit the delightful shops, restaurants and Victorian-era homes.

Along the way back to Bloomington, consider making a quick stop in Athens at the Long Nine Museum, or pick up delicious homemade Maple syrup or Maple candy at the famous Funks Grove Maple Sirup, located just off Illinois Route 66, to complete your journey.

To learn more about more than 200 Illinois sites that make up the Looking for Lincoln Story Trail and begin planning your trip, visit LookingForLincoln.com and EnjoyIllinois.com.

 – Illinois Office of Tourism

From the Lincoln Era to current day, Illinois has played an important role in African American history. There’s no better time to celebrate this rich culture than Black History Month. Festivals, special celebrations, and museums all throughout the state offer visitors a chance to learn from and admire the culture and heritage of the African American community.  Read on for a deeper look into all there is to experience during Black History Month and beyond!

There is no better place to begin your celebration of Black History than the DuSable Museum of African American History, the first of its type in the country. This month, the museum will serve as the backdrop for HEART & SOUL, the Emmy Award-winning series that taps into the essence of the African American community. A special Black History Month edition of the show will air on ABC7, Sunday, February 5 featuring special news reports, programs and stories honoring African American figures throughout history. If you can’t tune into the special event, not to worry, the museum is open to visitors year round.

DuSable Museum of African American History is the first of its type in the country. (Photo by DuSable Museum)

Also in Chicago, the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum celebrates the men that made history by forming the first successful African American labor union in the U.S. The museum is located within the Historic Pullman District which was named a National Monument by President Obama in 2015 and later incorporated into the National Park Service.  Book a tour to view artifacts from the train cars and porter strike and learn more about this important movement.

Explore the storied history of the Pullman Porters at the Pullman Porter Museum. (Photo by the Pullman Porter Museum)

The Pullman Porters were just one of many groups to make strides toward equality. Travel to Peoria to learn about a number of important individuals and events that made a significant impact on the lives of African Americans at the African American Hall of Fame (AAHF). Founded by a small group of civil leaders, the museum works to preserve important African American art and historical documents so that they can be shared with future generations. Another museum looking to further Black History education is the African American Museum of Southern Illinois. Located in Carbondale, the museum’s permanent exhibits feature African American art and slave artifacts, including features of the Underground Railroad in Illinois.

Learn more about the evolution of African American art at the African American Museum of Southern Illinois.

It’s never too early to start learning about the importance of Black History. Bring your young ones to the Bronzeville Children’s Museum  for a variety of unique and interesting interactive exhibits and activities. Located in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood, the Children’s Museum is the first and only African American Children’s Museum in the country. Stop by for the special exhibit “Preserving Our Children’s Futures” for an afternoon of crafts, face painting, music and storytelling.

Bronzeville Children’s Museum offers Black History Month activities for the whole family.

Black History Month isn’t just about celebrating famous figures; it’s about connecting African Americans as they recognize and embrace their own culture.  If you’ve ever wondered if you have a personal connection to Black History, the African American Cultural and Genealogical Society Museum of Illinois in Decatur is the place to go. Pastors, teachers and clerical workers come together to voluntarily devote their time and skills to helping people research their family history through the organization’s large database. Don’t miss out on a chance to discover some movers and shakers in your family lineage!

Another place to learn more about your roots is The Ethnic Heritage Museum of Rockford.  This museum focuses on the heritage of the numerous different ethnic groups that settled within the city. It emphasizes the old customs and traditions through artifacts, vintage clothing and photographs. The museum is also running a special exhibit for Black History Month, “Saluting Black Military Units” from Feb. 12 – March 19.

Head to Alton for guided tours through its many Underground Railroad sites.

The Land of Lincoln is no stranger to African American history. Alton played a key role in the movement of slaves through the Underground Railroad, acting as a safe haven for slaves escaping from Missouri. The tunnels of the Underground Railroad run deep beneath the streets along the “Alton Route.” Visitors can take guided tours to hear the slave’s tales and learn more about Alton’s remarkable past.

These are just a few of the many places to explore Black History throughout Illinois. For even more historical sites, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

 

Did you know that Chicago is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in the country, with roughly 65,000 residents? Year round, the neighborhood offers unique ways to learn about the culture and history of China. From the Chinatown Gate welcoming you into the neighborhood, to the educational Chinese American Museum of Chicago and even the Ping Tom Memorial Park, which offers visitors a pool, gym and kayak rentals; there is a lot to do in Chinatown for any traveler.

Find lots of authentic Chinese gifts and goodies at the two-level outdoor Chinatown Square Mall. (Instagram photo by @mightymiao87)

Of course, the biggest thing to do coming up is the celebration of the Chinese New Year which starts January 28 and runs through February 12. During that time, you can experience celebrations, parades and fun events to ring in the Year of the Rooster. The festivities don’t stop outside Chinatown though; there are things to see and do throughout the city of Chicago as well.

With strong roots tying back to the old country, the Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood continues to follow the history and culture of China in celebrating the Chinese New Year with a massive celebration; from colorful parades to preparing some of China’s most traditional – and tasty – meals. Not many cities celebrate the way Chicago does and it shows with the abundance of activities around the city.

The entrance to Chinatown, located on the west side of Chicago. (Instagram photo by @rachface.13)

Begin the Chinese New Year by learning how to make an authentic Chinese dish – dumplings! In its 13th year, the annual Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Dinner, hosted by the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, invites newcomers and veteran dumpling-makers to Hing Kee Restaurant on January 21 and February 4 to learn the art of the dumpling, or jiaozi. This traditional dish dates back more than 1,800 years and continues to live on in Chinese culture today.

Delicious dumplings from Hing Kee Restaurant. (Instagram photo by @smallgirlbigplates)

Chinatown isn’t the only neighborhood that gets in on the fun. The Garfield Park Conservatory and the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier also host celebrations that are entertaining for the whole family.

Enjoy an afternoon of activities and cultural learning at the beautiful Garfield Park Conservatory on January 21 for its Chinese New Year Celebration. Visitors will make festive Chinese lanterns, learn about their zodiac sign, attend a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and participate in a dragon dance.

At Navy Pier, enjoy Neighborhoods of the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year. During this nine-week event, the Crystal Gardens are ornately decorated with colorful lanterns and feature a unique and intricate dragon dance.

Colorful dancing dragons at the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier. (Photo provided by Choose Chicago)

What’s a New Year celebration without a parade? End the Year of the Rooster festivities with two incredible spectacles; one parade in the heart Chinatown and the other on Argyle Street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

Light up the day at the Argyle Street Lunar New Year Parade on February 4 with an amazing kick off near the Argyle CTA Red Line station where firecrackers explode while Chinese culture-inspired floats and large dancing dragons pass by.

Local community groups near Argyle Street participate in the annual parade. (Photo provided by Uptown United)

The following day on February 5, make your way down to Chinatown for the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. Each year, more than 30,000 people attend the parade to help start the New Year off with a bang. Make sure to be on the lookout for the 100-foot-long paper dragon and stunning fireworks show at the end.

Bring the whole family to see the beautiful dragons at the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown. (Instagram photo by @jonfromchicago)

The list of fun-filled activities for Chinese New Year never ends! Here are some other educational and awesome events happening around the city to celebrate the Year of the Rooster:

The Citywide Chinese New Year Kick Off at the Chicago Cultural Center. (Photo by Choose Chicago)

There are so many ways to learn about Chinese culture in Chicago, especially during the Lunar New Year. For more information about Chinatown and what there is to see and do throughout the year, check out Things to Do – Chinatown on EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Did you know Chicago is home to 116 different skyscrapers?  It is currently ranked 8th out of all cities in the world! This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share their best shots of those sky-high structures. Check out a few of our favorite captures below and be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out EnjoyIllinois.com.

8.29 Willis Tower and Skyscraper (at)tat_ventures

What a shot! We started off the week with this perfectly timed capture of the John Hancock Center by @tat_ventures

View of Downtown (at)e4rlyr1ser

Bright lights, big city! We just love this shot from Hard Rock Hotel rooftop by @e4rlyr1ser

Chicago Skyline (at)mldsphotography

There’s nothing quite like the skyline all lit up against the night sky. Thanks to @mldsphotography for sharing with us.

Full Downtown (at)firsthandaccount

The city looks like it was made out of blocks in this one. Thanks to @firsthandaccount for sharing!

Hancock and Trump (at)mmcurtis73

You’re truly living above the clouds in the Hancock Center and Trump Tower. (Photo: @mmcurtis73)

Hancock Center (at)ernest_deo

We’re in awe of this capture of the Hancock Center at sunset by @ernest_deo.

Lake Front Trail (at)stufotog

Go for a run along the Lakefront Trail for a great view of Chicago’s skyline. Now that’s motivation to get moving! (Photo @stufotog)

NBC Tower (at)rummdog

Located right in downtown Chicago, the NBC Tower reaches a height of 627 feet! (Photo @rummdogg)

Willis Tower (at)jbhay

No matter what you refer to it as, the Willis Tower is one mammoth structure! (Photo: @jbhay)

Wrigley Building (at)themagmile

One of Chicago’s original Skyscrapers, the Wrigley Building has been A Magnificent Mile staple since 1927! (Photo @themagmile)

Wrigley Building from rooftop (at)tashka87

We just love the unique angle @tashka87 captured of the famed Wrigley Building.

-Illinois Office of Tourism