Illinois’ role in U.S. history dates to the Colonial era and is most associated with the life of Abraham Lincoln.
The Midwestern state is where the natural beauty of rolling hills and prairies meets quintessential symbols like Route 66, the city of Chicago, the mighty Mississippi River and expansive Lake Michigan. It’s also the birthplace of one of the USA’s most important presidents, Abraham Lincoln. These historic places include important Lincoln sites as well as a Colonial-era fort that is a must-visit for any history buff.
Fort Massac State Park
In Metropolis, at the southern tip of the state, Illinois’ first state park is rich with history. The French built the original fort in 1757 during the French and Indian War. The structure was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times over the years. The fort standing today is modeled after the 1802 structure. Enjoy camping and scenic hiking trails along the Ohio River, where you can also go fishing and boating. In October, the annual Fort Massac Encampment draws thousands of attendees to a re-created 1700s village complete with Colonial-era food, military re-enactments, merchants, artisans and music.
The recreated fort and 1700s village at Fort Massac State Park
Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site
Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site in Petersburg is where the future president spent his early adult years. Step back in time to the early 1800s in this authentic replica of the village where he lived. Explore the homes, stores and blacksmith shop, then check out the museum featuring period-era artifacts and exhibits.
Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery, the second-most visited in the USA, is the final resting place for President Abraham Lincoln, his wife and three of his four children. The ornate structure features multiple bronze statues and a massive granite monument over Lincoln’s remains. Remember to rub the nose of Lincoln’s bronze bust statue at the entrance; it’s believed to bring good luck.
Rub the nose of Abraham Lincoln for good luck
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, also in Springfield, delves deep into the life of the 16th president of the USA. The museum features photographs, extensive presentations about the Civil War and life-sided dioramas of the president’s life, including a replica of the stage box where he was assassinated. Be sure to get a photo of Lincoln’s real stovepipe hat; there are only three left in the world.