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Before becoming the nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln spent nearly 25 years practicing law in Illinois. Lincoln worked on cases both big and small which took him to a number of different cities and small towns across the state. Today, many of these sites are open to the public as historical attractions for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of Lincoln’s journey to becoming the leader of the United States.

 To commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the Illinois Office of Tourism has teamed up with the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition to help visitors explore Lincoln’s life as a lawyer, with this two-day trip itinerary through Eastern Illinois:

Day 1 – Charleston

Experience life on a 1840s farm at Lincoln Log Cabin in Charleston.

Morning

Start your day near the city of Charleston, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln’s father and stepmother, Thomas and Sara Bush Lincoln, were among the very early settlers in the Charleston Area. Just a short drive from Charleston, you can step back in time to the rural life of 1840s Illinois at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, where Lincoln would often come back to visit his parents while he was working as a young lawyer in Springfield. Today, you will find a living history farm developed around the two-room cabin owned by the Lincoln family, as well as a Visitors Center full of exhibit galleries to help you learn more about farm life and the Lincoln family.

After soaking in all there is to see at the Lincoln Log Cabin, hit the road and head for beautiful Champaign-Urbana. A first stop as you look for Lincoln the Lawyer is the Champaign County Historical Archives, located at the Urbana Free Library.  Here you will find an extensive historical collection of records from Champaign County, Illinois and the states east of the Mississippi.

From there, head to the Champaign County History Museum. Housed in the historic Cattle Bank, you will be able to look through over 10,000 artifacts related to the people, businesses and organizations important to the County’s history. Just a few blocks from the History Museum you will find the Champaign County Courthouse. While the current courthouse was built in 1901, it sits on the site of the courthouse where Lincoln appeared as a lawyer in his 8th Judicial days. Head inside to explore the special exhibit Abraham Lincoln: A Large Presence in a Small Town, which highlights Lincoln’s lasting legacy within the Champaign-Urbana community.

Afternoon    

Start off your afternoon with a stop at Museum of the Grand Prairie in Mahomet. This spot will give you a glimpse into prairie life in East-Central Illinois in 19th and early 20th centuries through an extensive collection that includes a full exhibit on the story of Abraham Lincoln, the prairie lawyer.

A short drive down the road will bring you to the Piatt County Museum featuring artifacts from throughout the county’s history. Nearby, you’ll find Historic State Street of Monticello which was once a major business hub for central Illinois, including the incorporation of the Monticello Railroad Company.

Monticello is known for its strong, historic ties to the railroad industry and there is no better place to explore that important role than the Monticello Railway Museum.  While Lincoln later became known for expanding the railroads during the Civil War, he often rode the rails through Illinois as he traveled along the 8th Judicial Circuit.  For the true Lincoln experience, you can hop aboard the Museum’s 7-mile ride on a vintage railroad train.

Monticello is also home to Bryant Cottage, a must-visit site for the true Lincoln historians.  According to family lore, on July 29, 1858, Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas met at Bryant Cottage to discuss their upcoming “Lincoln-Douglas Debates” which would go down in history as some of the most important of the Civil War Era. In addition to its Lincoln ties, the cottage is a great place to tour to get a feel for middle-class life in mid-19th century Central Illinois.

Day 2- Danville

Lincoln gave one of his early speeches from the second story balcony of the historic Fithian House in Danville.

Morning

Begin day two of your journey through Lincoln’s time as a lawyer in historic Danville. The Vermilion County Museum is located in the reconstructed early Danville Courthouse where Lincoln tried over 200 cases. Inside, you can make a visit to the Museum’s special reproduction of the law office of Danville attorney, Ward Hill Lamon, who shared the office with Lincoln during his time with the 8th Judicial Circuit.

Also in Danville, The Fithian House was the home of prominent 19th century Danville physician, Dr. William Fithian, and a place visited often by Lincoln. Tour the home to stand at the second story balcony, the very spot where Lincoln was known to have given a speech back in 1858. If you are looking to learn even more about the families that Lincoln came across in his day, plan to stop by the Illiana Genealogical & Historical Society to see local records and access hundreds of thousands of area family histories

Another historical Danville home is The Lamon House, the oldest framed residence in Danville. The original owners were related to Lincoln’s area law partner, Ward Hill Lamon, who also went on to serve as Lincoln’s bodyguard during the Civil War.

Lincoln frequented the Alexander family home in Paris during his time as their lawyer.

Afternoon    

Head to Paris, Illinois to check out the history of the town, starting with the Edgar County Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The courthouse is surrounded by a number of markers telling the stories of Edgar County history and even has the Statue of Justice sitting atop the “wedding cake tower” high above the courthouse.

Just one block from the courthouse, make a stop at Paris Arts Center. Located in the historic Alexander home, Lincoln visited this exact spot many times in his day, as he served as the family’s attorney. The final stop on your trip along Lincoln’s time on the 8th Judicial Circuit, is the Edgar County Historical Complex. This complex includes the historic Arthur house, built by Henry Clay Moss. Here you will find a variety of genealogical resources, including many related to Mr. Lincoln.

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

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

It’s that time of year again—time to wish one of this country’s most well-loved presidents a happy birthday! There’s no better time to plan a trip around Illinois and the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area than to celebrate Abe Lincoln’s 208th birthday. From storytelling to free museum tours to special annual celebrations, there is no shortage of festivities happening around the state. Gather the family and plan your trip to celebrate Illinois’ incredible Lincoln heritage!

Head to Lincoln Log Cabin in Charleston to enjoy a birthday party hosted by Lincoln’s family members. Historical actors will be on-site to share personal anecdotes and stories about life with Lincoln on Saturday, February 11. Bring the whole family to tour this 19th century living history farm and take part in story time and other activities to learn more about the former president’s life.

Children listened to stories about Lincoln at last year’s birthday celebration at the Lincoln Log Cabin in Charleston.

The David Davis Mansion State Historic Site in Bloomington is also hosting a special celebration for Honest Abe on February 11. Stop by the home of Lincoln’s close friend and former campaign manager to hear tales from costumed characters as they recall their encounters with Lincoln during his time in Bloomington. Be sure to stay and enjoy a special birthday cake and punch to celebrate. You may even catch a glimpse of President Lincoln himself!

Make a trip to Danville on February 12 for a special open at the Vermilion County Museum, built as a replica of the courthouse where Lincoln practiced law. Spend the afternoon exploring the Museum complex, which includes a replica of Lincoln’s law office as it looked in the 1850s and view hundreds of birthday cards for the president from Danville-area fourth- and fifth-graders.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy Lincoln’s Birthday Celebration at Mt. Pulaski Courthouse.

Not only is Lincoln’s family hosting a party, but his friends are celebrating his birthday, too! Visit Mount Pulaski Courthouse State Historic Site on February 11 to hear from Lincoln’s former teacher Mentor Graham and sample Abe’s favorite dessert—apple pie with rum sauce! Bring the whole family and let the kids meet Lincoln himself and reenact what it was like to be a student during Lincoln’s childhood.

Enjoy free admission at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield on February 12.

In Springfield, the city Lincoln called home for many years, a number of important attractions will be hosting special birthday events. Enjoy free admission to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on February 12 to see special artifacts and items from Lincoln’s life, including his stovepipe hat and Mary Todd Lincoln’s 28-diamond necklace. Both artifacts will be on display during the month of February. Historical actors from the Civil War period will also be on-site to chat with visitors and answer any questions.

For an in-depth look at Lincoln’s life and times, both the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Old State Capitol State Historic Site will be hosting a special lecture series on February 11 and 12. The George L. Painter Looking for Lincoln Lecture Series at the Lincoln Home covers a range of topics, from Lincoln’s childhood and upbringing to all of his accomplishments throughout his career and presidency. The Abraham Lincoln Association will also hold its annual symposium at the Old State Capitol on February 11 and 12, featuring special presentations from notable authors on Lincoln literature.

The Vandalia Statehouse Historic Site has been helping visitors celebrate Lincoln’s birthday since 1973.

Continue your trip with a journey back to Lincoln’s time at Illinois’ oldest surviving capitol building—the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site. The site where Lincoln started his political career has been hosting a Lincoln Birthday celebration since 1973. This year’s events include musical entertainment and refreshments as well as a presentation and stories from the Bond County Historical Society about Lincoln’s in-laws who sided with the South during the Civil War.

Wind down from an exciting weekend of birthday celebrations with a visit the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington for a special viewing of the 1939 classic film “Young Mr. Lincoln” on February 14. Arrive early to view a display of rarely seen historical artifacts and stay during the movie’s intermission to hear  local Lincoln scholar Guy Fraker speak about Lincoln’s connection to McLean County and the lasting impact its residents had on him.

Illinois is full of Abraham Lincoln history, events and ways to honor him. If you are eager to delve even further into the history, visit EnjoyIllinois.com for more places to go.

-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