Category Archives: Illinois History

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Land of Lincoln Feature Image

The Land of Lincoln is not just one of the most history-rich regions in Illinois, but in the entire country. Springfield alone is home to more Abraham Lincoln historical sites than any other place in the world, and beyond that, there are even more attractions where history buffs can soak up knowledge in Central Illinois. 

Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center

Celebrating the rich history of Litchfield, this museum gives visitors a look at the evolution of the culture, lifestyle and economy of America’s Heartland across several generations through the prism of one Midwestern town. Early agriculture, the growth of railroads, industrialization and Route 66 are all covered by this fascinating museum that just opened in 2012.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

Route 66 Arcade Museum

 For a different kind of museum experience, head to Atlanta to see classic video games that date back to the 1930s, many of which are still playable! The interactive museum features more than 40 vintage pinball and arcade games, including the original PacMan game, and cost only a quarter for visitors to play.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

Carlinville Historic District

 This historic downtown district features the “Million Dollar Courthouse,” a destination for artists and architects from all over the world, as well as the Macoupin County Jail, a medieval-looking fortress that has been open since 1869. The Macoupin County Historical Museum also houses exhibits and artifacts reflecting the history of the area in a beautiful two-story Victorian mansion.

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The Original Steak’n’Shake

 Brush up on your diner history with a stop at the original Steak ‘n’ Shake at 1219 South Main Street in Normal. It still resembles a 50s-style diner and serves all the quintessential American fast food favorites: burgers, fries and milkshakes.

For more historical attractions across the state, check out for more trip ideas.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Historical Adventure Feature Image

Home to Abraham Lincoln, Americana and the birthplace of the corndog. History comes alive around every corner in Springfield, home to more Lincoln sites than anywhere else in the nation. Explore everything from Abe’s house and law offices to his must-see presidential museum. Route 66 makes its way through Springfield leaving behind plenty of Americana in the form of classic diners and kitschy roadside attractions.

Throughout Springfield there are historical sites with ties to Lincoln – enough to fill a multiple-day itinerary. Here are a few of our top recommendations.

The Lincoln Home

Get an intimate look at Lincoln during a tour of the Lincoln Home, the only house he ever owned. The Lincoln family lived here from 1844 until they left for Washington. The Lincoln Home is located in a historic four-block neighborhood that looks much as it did in the mid-1800s, complete with wooden sidewalks. A visitor center and restored neighboring homes display exhibits that tell the story of Lincoln’s time spent with his wife, children and friends in Springfield.

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Re-enactors at the Lincoln Home in Springfield.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices

This is the only remaining structure where Abraham Lincoln maintained working law offices. Lincoln and his final law partner, William Herndon, operated from the top floor of the building from 1843 to 1852. Filled with clutter and makeshift furniture, the offices draw a vivid picture of what a normal day was like for Lincoln and Herndon. Today the building includes a visitor center, federal courtrooms and attorney offices.

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The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

This museum is one of the most-visited presidential museums in the nation where visitors can experience the entire Lincoln story under one roof, from Abe’s humble beginnings in an Indiana log cabin to his days as president in the White House. Be dazzled by two special effects theaters featuring historical ghosts and a Civil War battlefield, life-like vignettes that depict important moments in the president’s life, and artifacts that range from Lincoln’s stovepipe hat to an original copy of the Gettysburg Address.

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The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

The Lincoln Tomb

The Tomb is the final resting place of President Lincoln, his wife and three of their four children. It was constructed between 1869-1874 in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. Be sure to rub the nose of the bronze Lincoln bust at the entrance, which is said to bring good luck. Dogs are allowed on the site; they are not allowed inside the monument.

Lincoln Tomb

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site is where Abe Lincoln was laid to rest.

Abraham Lincoln’s legacy extends far beyond Springfield with plenty of museums and historic sites throughout the state. See more of the Lincoln attractions in Illinois here.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Obscura Society Image USE THIS ONE

With the new Illinois Office of Tourism and Atlas Obscura partnership, events are happening throughout Illinois this spring and summer. Sign up for the email list to receive exclusive invites to explore unique and lesser-known places throughout the state. It’s a great opportunity to hang out with like-minded adventurers!

Illinois Society Logo

Check out for unique events and attractions around the state

The partnership officially launched in February at a vintage carnival themed event with more than 450 attendees at Salvage One – an event space in Chicago known for its vintage antiques. It was here where the Illinois Obscura Society was born. Guests were treated to acts of contortion, mind reading, juggling while unicycling, an old-timey brass band and a sideshow fire eater to top it off. The main event was Thom Britton from FreakShow & Tell. He wowed the crowd by eating fire and shared his trade secrets, explaining how it’s possible to eat fire to an enchanted crowd.

Recently, the Illinois Obscura Society conducted a tour of a Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth. The owners of the Gold Pyramid House, Jim and Linda Onan, describe their unique golden home as powerful, mysterious and exotic. The pyramid is surrounded by a moat and guarded by a 50-foot statue of Ramses II. Everything was built in the 1970s when there was a popular New Age belief that pyramids could focus power and improve health. The family now offers tours of their six-story, 17,000-square-foot home.


The Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth, Illinois (Photo: Steven Glynias)

Gold Pyramid with Statue

An Egyptian sculpture stands guard in front of the Gold Pyramid House (Photo: Steven Glynias)

There are a lot of great events happening on May 30 to celebrate Obscura Day 2015. Mark your calendar and check out all the events below!


Underwater Wonders of Mermet Springs
Belknap, Illinois
Visit this unexpected diver’s paradise without getting wet!

Behind the Scenes at the Blue Waters Supercomputer
Champaign, Illinois
Join us for exclusive access to one of the world’s most powerful computing centers.

The International Museum of Surgical Science
Chicago, Illinois
Join us for a special tour of this unique museum and the mansion that houses it.

Walking in the Footsteps of Leopold and Loeb
Chicago, Illinois
Join us as we revisit what was called “The Crime of the Century”.

The Grounds of Graceland Cemetery
Chicago, Illinois
Stroll amongst the dead and the artwork that commemorates their passing.

Fishes of the Field Museum
Chicago, Illinois
Join us for an exclusive tour of the Field Museum’s Piscine Collection.

The Art of Letter Writing
Chicago, Illinois
Enjoy exclusive access to the Letter Writers Alliance Club House in celebration of Obscura Day.

Explore the Busy Beaver Button Company
Chicago, Illinois
Busy Beaver is the button maker to the world. Now you can see just how they do it.

Catching a Flick at Route 66’s Last Drive-In
Litchfield, Illinois
Since 1950, the summer skies of Litchfield have been filled with Hollywood.

Caravanning Illinois’ Route 66
Route 66, Illinois
Join us as we explore the first 300 miles of the mother road.

Exploring Chicago’s Baha’i Temple
Wilmette, Illinois
The Baha’i faith welcomes everyone to find peace in their beautiful temple and gardens.

The Illinois Obscura Society of Atlas Obscura was created in partnership with Enjoy Illinois. Sign up to stay in the know about upcoming, exclusive tours and adventures. Expeditions will continue throughout the spring and summer. Don’t miss out on your chance to explore every quirky corner of Illinois!

–The Illinois Office of Tourism

UK FAM Trip Feature Image

This March, three travel writers from the United Kingdom hopped across the pond and landed in Illinois. They spent an entire week in the Land of Lincoln and had a blast exploring Chicago, Utica, Galena and Rockford. Check out a few photos these international writers took of their Illinois adventures below!



travelsofadam Skydeck Chicago 3-27

U.K. blogger Adam Groffman of “Travels of Adam” loved the view from The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago! (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Odyssey Cruises Chicago 3-29

International visitors ate a phenomenal dinner aboard the Odyssey Cruise in Chicago. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

Kira Agass_Lou Mitchell's

Writer Kira Agass loved the classic American diner breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago. (Photo: (at) KiraAgass via Twitter)


storyofagirl89 Starved Rock 3-29

Blogger Sophie Warner of “Story of a Girl Who Lives Above Her Means” loved discovering the canyons and waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in Utica. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)


travelsofadam Farmer's Guest House 3-30

The Farmer’s Guest House was home for the group during their stay in Galena. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Horseshoe Mound 3-30

These U.K. bloggers were impressed by Galena’s natural beauty at Horseshoe Mound. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Mississippi River

Adam was blown away by the view of the Mississippi River from Goldmoor Inn. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

storyofagirl89 Galena Historic District 3-31

Sophie snapped this picture of the shops in historic downtown Galena. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)


storyofagirl89 Midway Village 4-1

These international journalists went back to grade school at Midway Village Museum in Rockford. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

storyofagirl89 Corondo Theatre 4-2

Sophie enjoyed touring Rockford’s Coronado Theatre. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out

— The Illinois Office of Tourism

History Buff's Guide FEATURE IMAGE

Are you a history buff and fan of our 16th president? If so, then you’ll love diving into the rich history Abraham Lincoln’s hometown has to offer! The state’s capitol, Springfield, is home to more Lincoln sites than anywhere else in the nation. Explore everything from Abe’s house to his outstanding presidential museum with these three must-see suggestions!

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Start the historic journey by traveling back in time to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The intimate tour gives visitors a look at the Lincoln Home, the only house Honest Abe ever owned. Located in a quiet four-block neighborhood, the house gives a glimpse into what life was like with his wife, children, and friends in Springfield.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Continue embarking through Lincoln’s life story by checking out the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This historic attraction is one of the most visited presidential museums in the nation. Visitors can delve into Lincoln’s history, spanning from Abe’s beginnings to his days as president in the White House, all under one roof. If you weren’t an Abe expert before, you’ll certainly become one after this visit!

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum-Springfield

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is one of the most visited presidential museum in the nation

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site

While Abraham Lincoln’s legacy will live forever, the iconic president’s final resting place can be found at the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. His wife and three of their four children also rest peacefully in the 1874 constructed memorial. When you visit, make sure to rub the nose of the bronze Lincoln at the entrance. It’s said to bring good luck!

Lincoln Tomb

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site is where Abe Lincoln was laid to rest along with his wife and three of his children

What are some of your favorite historic monuments in Springfield? Share with us below! For more trip ideas in the Land of Lincoln, visit

-The Illinois Office of Tourism