35 Fun Things to Do in Springfield, IL

11 min read
A political building with a domed roof and a statue of Lincoln and trees next to it
Springfield is a city full of history, culture, and fascinating landmarks

When most people think of visiting Illinois, they only think to go to Chicago. However, there are many other great destinations in the state, like Springfield.

This city is notably the state capital and is also known as being Abraham Lincoln's home before he became President. If you decide to visit this fascinating location, you'll be amazed by the multitude of fun things to do in Springfield, IL.

Of course, you can discover many Illinois landmarks relating to Lincoln, including his former residence and law office. There are also other historical and political buildings to see, plus outdoor attractions and museums.

Want to know what else there is to do in Springfield? Read on for 35 suggestions!

  • 35 Springfield things to do

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35 Fun Things to Do in Springfield, Illinois

  1. Explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
  2. Immerse yourself in the 1800s at the Lincoln's New Salem
  3. Find out some interesting facts at the Vachel Lindsay Home
  4. Look around the Lincoln Home National Historic Site
  5. Learn something new at the Illinois State Military Museum
  6. Travel back in time at the Elijah Iles House & Museum
  7. See Lincoln’s grave at the Oak Ridge Cemetery
  8. Wander around the Washington Park Botanical Garden
  9. Watch a concert at the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon
  10. Go to the Illinois State Capitol
  11. View exhibits at the African American History Museum
  12. See airplanes at the Air Combat Museum of Springfield
  13. Walk around Camp Butler National Cemetery
  14. Spot animals at the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary
  15. Look inside Edwards Place Historic Home
  16. Plan a getaway to Chicago
  17. Expand your knowledge at Illinois State Museum
  18. Hang out in Washington Park
  19. Take a trip to St. Louis
  20. Appreciate the Lincoln Memorial Garden
  21. Have a tour of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion
  22. Tour the Dana Thomas House
  23. Grab a corn dog at Cozy Dog Drive-In
  24. Enjoy the amusements at Knight’s Action Park
  25. Visit the Old State Capitol
  26. Visit the Daughters of Union Veterans Civil War Museum
  27. Pass by the Lincoln Depot
  28. See Lincoln’s office at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices
  29. Catch a performance at The BOS Center
  30. Relax with a beer at Buzz Bomb Brewing
  31. Pay respects at the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  32. Boat on Lake Springfield
  33. Shop in Downtown Springfield
  34. Eat and drink at the unique Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill
  35. Admire the architecture of Historic Union Station

Show all

Springfield Things to Do Map

A map of Springfield. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

A rotunda building with glass windows and two flags on the left-hand side of it
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers a look at Lincoln’s life

Explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and one of the country’s most influential people. In Springfield, you can find the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where you can learn more about his life, career, and accomplishments.

Things to learn about include his early and family life, his presidency during the American Civil War, his assassination, and more.

Immerse yourself in the 1800s at the Lincoln's New Salem

The Lincoln New Salem State Historic Site, or Lincoln’s New Salem, is 30-minutes from central Springfield. The attraction is a reconstruction of the Salem, Illinois village Abraham Lincoln lived in between 1831 and 1837. You can explore inside as well as looking around the outside grounds. There are also some exhibits and informational plaques to see.

Find out some interesting facts at the Vachel Lindsay Home

The Vachel Lindsay Home is another historic residence to tour in Springfield. Constructed in 1848, it was notably owned by poet Vachel Lindsay. During your tour, you can explore each room and will discover more about the poet’s life.

A house with green windows, a yard around it, and a street and trees in front of it
Lincoln lived in the house at this National Historic Site from 1844 to 1861

Look around the Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Another of the landmarks in Springfield relating to Abraham Lincoln is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Lincoln lived in the residence between 1844 and 1861 when he became president. If you decide to visit, you can look around the interior and learn some interesting facts relating to it from on-site guides.

Learn something new at the Illinois State Military Museum

One of the many fascinating Springfield, IL, attractions to visit is the Illinois State Military Museum. This attraction has exhibits on the US military, with a focus on the Illinois National Guard. As you explore, you’ll be able to see artifacts like military weapons, uniforms, and other equipment.

Travel back in time at the Elijah Iles House & Museum

The Elijah Iles House & Museum is the oldest structure in Springfield. Constructed in 1837, the structure was owned by Elijah Iles who was one of the first residents of Springfield, Illinois. Inside, you can see rooms decorated as they would have been in the 1800s and discover a variety of artifacts.

© wasppics via Depositphotos
A green arch sign that says "Oak Ridge Cemetery" with trees behind it
Oak Ridge Cemetery is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln and his family

See Lincoln’s grave at the Oak Ridge Cemetery

The Oak Ridge Cemetery is a 365-acre cemetery that’s most well-known for being the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife, and most of their children. After seeing the Lincoln Tomb, you can walk around the leafy cemetery and will find graves of some other notable Illinois figures too.

Wander around the Washington Park Botanical Garden

One of the prettiest attractions in Springfield, Illinois, is the Washington Park Botanical Garden. At the gardens, you can wander through a selection of seasonal floral displays, including rose gardens. There’s a tropical greenhouse and a glass conservatory too. Admission is also free!

Watch a concert at the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon

Located in Washington Park, the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon is one of the largest carillons in the world. The statue stands at 132 feet tall and was opened in 1962. A fun activity at the Memorial Carillon is going to a concert. A variety of outdoor concerts are held throughout the year, covering a range of genres.

© actionsports via Depositphotos
One of the fun things to do in Springfield, IL, is touring the Illinois State Capitol
Touring the Illinois State Capitol is one of the fun things to do in Springfield, IL

Go to the Illinois State Capitol

The new Illinois State Capitol opened in 1888 and is the location of the legislative and executive branches of government for the state of Illinois to this day. The interior and exterior design of the Greek-Revival building is stunning. Along with admiring the design details, you can take a tour of the Capitol.

View exhibits at the African American History Museum

The Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum covers African American history and culture in Springfield, past and present. There are a variety of exhibits to see, which showcase stories and significant events from the local community. This fascinating and educational museum is a must-visit spot!

See airplanes at the Air Combat Museum of Springfield

The Air Combat Museum of Springfield is another unique attraction in Springfield, IL. During a visit, you can see a variety of aircraft and learn more about their uses. The attraction also has some vehicles, like military trucks.

© chasbrutlag via Depositphotos
Green grass with white gravestones and trees on it, stretching into the distance
Camp Butler National Cemetery is the resting place of over 250,000 US veterans

Walk around Camp Butler National Cemetery

Camp Butler National Cemetery is a military cemetery that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. More than 250,000 veterans are buried at the cemetery, and there are also some monuments and memorials dedicated to different groups of military personnel.

Spot animals at the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary

A great place to enjoy the outdoors and spot some wildlife is the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1983, the manor on the site and surrounding woodlands and other land was donated to the Illinois Audubon Society. It had previously been owned by Miss Margery Adams.

At the sanctuary, you can follow trails and see woodland animals like squirrels, chipmunks, and birds.

Look inside Edwards Place Historic Home

Another of the museums in Springfield is Edwards Place Historic Home. This structure was built in 1833 in a Greek-revival style and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1969. Tours are available, and you will get to explore each room, designed and decorated as they would have been in the 19th century.

A pond with greenery surrounding it and a city skyline in the distance
As it's three hours from Springfield, Chicago is an ideal place to go for the weekend

Plan a getaway to Chicago

Chicago is probably the most well-known city in Illinois, and this popular tourist destination is just three hours from Springfield. If you’re looking for a fun trip idea, a weekend getaway to Chicago from Springfield is recommended.

In the city, you can see a range of famous Chicago landmarks and attractions. Activities to enjoy include taking in the views from the Willis Tower Skydeck, hanging out at Navy Pier, and going on a Lake Michigan Cruise.

Expand your knowledge at Illinois State Museum

The Illinois State Museum is one of the most popular Springfield, IL, tourist attractions. It features exhibits on the history, culture, and environment of the state of Illinois, with a specific focus on art and natural history. Just a few of the displays to see cover the dinosaurs and fossils, wildlife, and historical events.

Hang out in Washington Park

One of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Springfield is at Washington Park. The 150-acre park has lawns to relax on, paths to follow, and charming duck ponds. It’s the perfect place to work out, spend time with friends or family, and walk your dog.

An arch sculpture with buildings behind it and a waterway in front of it
The Gateway Arch is an iconic landmark to see in St. Louis

Take a trip to St. Louis

Just across the border in Missouri is the city of St. Louis. This destination is a great place for a day trip from Springfield, as it’s just an hour-and-a-half drive away. Once in St. Louis, you can check out a range of tourist attractions and take pictures with the renowned Gateway Arch.

Appreciate the Lincoln Memorial Garden

Exploring the scenic Lincoln Memorial Garden is one of the many fun Springfield, IL, things to do. Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, the space features 100-acres of woodlands and prairie gardens. The gardens intend to mimic landscapes that Lincoln would have been around during his life in the Midwest. Along with simply exploring the gardens, many events are held here, like wildflower plant sales.

Have a tour of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion

Another of the interesting things to see in Springfield, Illinois, is the Illinois State Governor’s Mansion. Constructed in 1856, the mansion has been the official residence of the governor of Illinois ever since. As with other notable houses in the area, you can tour the building and learn more about its history and past governors that have lived there.

© Jshanebutt via Depositphotos
A house with yellow trim and a green roof and grass and trees around it
Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Dana Thomas House

Tour the Dana Thomas House

Constructed in 1902 by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Dana Thomas Home is another interesting landmark to see in Springfield. It was built for Susanne Lawrence Dana and features unique architectural details, stained glass windows, and more.

A tour of the building allows you to admire its beauty and learn about the previous owner and architect.

Grab a corn dog at Cozy Dog Drive-In

A well-known spot in Springfield to get a snack is the Cozy Dog Drive-In. The retro diner is famous for its corn dogs but also serves some other dishes. Menu items include hot dogs, burgers, breakfast dishes, and sides like onion rings and potato salad.

Enjoy the amusements at Knight’s Action Park

Spending the day at Knight’s Action Park is one of the best family-friendly Springfield, IL activities. The park has a host of fun attractions for kids of all ages, including go-karts, mini-golf, and batting cages. During the summer, there’s also a water park with pools, slides, and a lazy river.

© rruntsch via Depositphotos
A building with columns and a red and white-domed roof, surrounded by a garden
The Old State Capitol was constructed in 1837 and is a National Historic Landmark

Visit the Old State Capitol

Springfield is home to the Illinois Old State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark and important political building in the state. The building was the fifth state capitol ever constructed in the United States and was built between 1837 and 1840.

During a visit, you can take a guided or self-guided tour which will teach you more about the history of politics in Illinois.

Visit the Daughters of Union Veterans Civil War Museum

A fascinating place relating to the Civil War is the Daughters of Union Veterans Civil War Museum. Exhibits to see cover the history of the Daughters of Union Veterans organization and certain events in and around the US Civil War.

Pass by the Lincoln Depot

Also known as the Great Western Depot, the Lincoln Depot is the location of Abraham Lincoln’s farewell address in 1861 as he left Springfield for Washington D.C.. The depot is located in the Central Springfield Historic District, and If in the area, passing by this landmark is highly recommended!

© LeeSnider via Depositphotos
A red brick building with white trim that says "Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices" in black
Lincoln practiced law at his Springfield office for almost ten years

See Lincoln’s office at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices

Constructed in 1841, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices are the former location of Abraham Lincoln’s law practice. Lincoln worked out of this office between 1843 and 1852. Today, there’s a visitor’s center in the office, and you can take a 20-minute guided tour.

Catch a performance at The BOS Center

The Bank of Springfield Center, or BOS Center, is a multi-purpose arena near the Old State Capitol. You can catch performances here, like concerts by a range of artists, plus consumer shows and other events. If you’re looking for fun activities in Springfield, IL, make sure you check what’s on at the BOS Center.

Relax with a beer at Buzz Bomb Brewing

Springfield has a selection of great breweries, and one of the most popular is Buzz Bomb Brewing. The bar has a vast array of beers on tap, including classic brews and more unique flavors. You can also get ciders. While food isn’t served, Buzz Bomb Brewing is happy for you to bring takeout or snacks into the bar.

© wasppics via Depositphotos
A white and black memorial structure with path, grass, and trees around it
The Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial is another landmark in Oak Ridge Cemetery

Pay respects at the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial

While Oak Ridge Cemetery is best known for being the place of the Lincoln Tomb, there are other significant memorials to be found there. One of them is the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The landmark pays homage to those who were killed or went missing during the conflict in the Vietnam War.

Boat on Lake Springfield

If you enjoy outdoor activities and water sports, going to Lake Springfield is recommended. You can boat, canoe, or kayak on the reservoir, enjoying the surrounding views as you do. Swimming is also allowed in certain areas, and there are grassy banks to hang out on under the sun.

© thoughtsofjoyce via Depositphotos
An iron gate with a red brick street and old-fashioned buildings behind it
Downtown Springfield has independent shops and great eateries

Shop in Downtown Springfield

One of the best things to do in Springfield, IL, if you want to get to know the area is to explore Downtown. This bustling part of the city has a variety of unique independent stores, including bookstores, beauty outlets, and souvenir shops. There are also many bars, breweries, and restaurants to try.

Eat and drink at the unique Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill

Springfield sits on Route 66, and due to this, you can find many car-themed attractions in the area, like Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill. The classic car-themed restaurant serves bar snacks like burgers, pretzel bites, and breaded shrimp.

All dishes have a car-inspired name, plus the eatery is decked out with car memorabilia, and there’s a Route 66 museum on site.

An building with a tower and a lawn, trees, and path in front of it under a blue sky
Union Station has been in Springfield for over 120 years

Admire the architecture of Historic Union Station

Union Station was built at the end of the 1800s and today sits opposite the Presidential Library and Museum. It was designed by architect Francis T. Bacon.

While no longer an active train station, you can visit to appreciate the architecture and take a tour of the interior. Afterward, head to Union Square Park, which has lawns and benches to hang out on. The park hosts events throughout the year too.

In Summary

This article should have given you some great ideas about what to do in Springfield, IL. This destination is rich in history and culture and offers visitors an array of things to see and do.

Whether you like visiting landmarks, going to museums, or checking out outdoor attractions, you'll find many activities to enjoy in Illinois' state capital.

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!


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