Follow in the footsteps of our nation's 16th president by taking
a journey from his childhood home to the city that saw the start of
his legal career. Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809, in a one-room
log cabin in southeast Kentucky. In 1816, the Lincoln family moved
to Perry (now Spencer) County, Ind. On that little farmstead,
Lincoln grew from boy to man, learning many hard lessons along the
way that would shape his personal convictions as an adult.
Pack a picnic and head out early to reach your destination for a
late lunch. Just 360 miles and six hours from Chicago, the Abraham
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial showcases the 14 years Lincoln
spent in Indiana, from ages 7 to 21.
Hike the historic Trail of Twelve Stones: each stone marks a
significant event in Lincoln's life. You'll pass over the farmhouse
site and past his mother's gravestone (Nancy Lincoln died after
drinking the milk of a cow infected by the toxic white snakeroot
plant when Abe was 9). Take a moment to reflect with your children
on what it must have been like to set off as a pioneer family into
the wilderness with few provisions and build a farmstead from
practically nothing, as the Lincoln family did when they arrived at
this 160-acre claim near the Little Pigeon Creek during the frigid
winter of December 1816.
Lincoln Pioneer Village in Rockport will give you a better idea
of how the Lincoln family actually lived: 14 WPA-era cabins
re-create pioneer life and include examples of a typical
schoolhouse, church, law office and a replica of the Lincoln family
Lighten up your journey with some non-stop family fun at Holiday
World, the world's first-ever theme park, family-run since 1946 and
just a short, scenic drive through the forest from Lincoln's
Boyhood Home Memorial. Relive a year of holidays in a single day by
visiting each block of the park: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fourth of
July and Christmas. Don't miss the three-story drop on Liberty
Launch, a log ride down Frightful Falls, a whiz around the sky on
Blitzen's Airplanes and of course, a 154-drop at 67 mph and 2.4
seconds of air time on the best wooden roller coaster in the world,
Premiering in June, the brand new Lincoln Amphitheater, located
within the Lincoln State Park, presents "Lincoln," a theatrical
experience that brings the story of Lincoln's journey alive.
Reserve the "Lincoln Experience," which includes an Amish-style
meal, pre-show activities for children and adults, and theater
under the stars. Multimedia projections and period music give
theater-goers more insight into the U.S. president whose legacy
continues to impact our nation today.
While in Southern Indiana, spend the night at the Lake Rudolph
Campground in a deluxe rental RV. Your kids will get a kick out of
this unique "hotel on wheels," complete with mini-kitchen, bathroom
with shower, dining area, mini sofa, double buck bed and master
bedroom. Adjacent to Holiday World, with free shuttle service to
the theme park provided, the campground also features tent sites. A
playground, pool, rental golf carts, game room and lake with rental
kayaks and paddleboats, s'mores on a campfire and wide starry sky
round out the fun.
Cross into Illinois on Route 64 and head toward Springfield, the
small city where Lincoln grew from lawyer to politician and lived
for 24 years, eventually moving on to assume the presidency in
Start your tour of Springfield at the Lincoln Home National
Historic Site in the downtown district. Abe and Mary Lincoln
resided here for more than 17 years and welcomed three of their
four sons. Admission is free; be sure to take part in a free guided
Take a walk over to the charming Greek revival office building
where Lincoln worked as a lawyer, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices.
Take the free guided tour. The Tinsley Dry Goods Store, located in
the rear, is the place to pick up your Land of Lincoln souvenir
(giant penny, anyone?)
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum houses the
largest collection of Lincoln memorabilia in the world. Don't miss
the "Ghosts of the Library" presentation in the Holavision Theater,
which uses 3-D hologram-like characters to explain the exciting job
of collecting and curating an enormous collection of artifacts and
The most intrepid Lincoln enthusiasts should download the free
'Here I Have Lived' downtown walking tour map at
This self-guided tour is a comprehensive map of the most vital
sites of Lincoln's life. At each site, you'll find a marker with an
inscribed story, accompanied by a graphic medallion that is
symbolic of that site in Lincoln's life. Bring crayons and paper
and make a rubbing of each medallion as a souvenir.
Older children and adults will enjoy a 90-minute Lincoln's Ghost
Walking Tour, led by an expert from Springfield Walking Tours.
You'll be spooked as you learn about some of the more
spine-tingling lore related to Lincoln's life and times.
About 20 miles north of downtown Springfield you'll find
Lincoln's New Salem Historic Site, a re-creation of this small
Illinois village where Lincoln spent a portion of his early
adulthood. Step inside typical log homes of the era, a tavern,
workshops, stores, mills and a schoolhouse. Costumed interpreters
will share what life was like in a small Illinois town of the
1830s. On a strict travel budget? Campsites at Lincoln's New Salem
Historic Site start at just $20 per night. Want to splurge and
spend the night in an Italianate mansion once owned by a
Springfield industrialist? Stay the night at the Rippon Kinsella
House, a Victorian bed and breakfast built in 1871 and located on a
half acre on the north side of Springfield. Enjoy the full country
breakfast, then borrow the resident bikes and ride over to explore
the historic Oak Ridge Cemetery or breeze through green Lincoln
Amy Souza is a Chicago teacher, freelance writer and
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