Day Trip Ideas in Springfield, Illinois

Today we are exploring all your options for a day trip with your student group in Springfield, Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln!

Take a look, decide what you like and what you don't, then give us a call and customize your own day trip adventure!

Springfield is the capital of Illinois, known to many as the Home of Lincoln, a hot spot for U.S. Route 66, and a key site of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. This city allows guests to explore the history, outdoor adventures, foodie experiences, shopping, and so much more.

There is a lively music scene as well as a large conglomerate of fun attractions such as a zoo, gardens, and the world's largest carillon. Shop major facilities such as White Oaks Mall, or more local places in the city's downtown historic district. There is so much to do during a day trip to Springfield, Illinois!

#1. Lincoln Lover


Welcome to the true Land of Lincoln, Springfield being the home of Abraham Lincoln and his family from 1837 to 1861. There are several different museums, memorials, and attractions you can visit throughout the city that give you more insight into his life, one of our favorites being the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. This 2-story home was owned by Lincoln from 1844 until his 1861 presidential election. You can explore the 12 room Greek Revival structure for free with a ranger-led tour.

You will also want to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the public research facility holding books, Civil War materials, manuscripts, newspapers, and over 1500 original signed Lincoln documents. See a log cabin replica, Ford's Theater replica, and much more inside. Save time to see Lincoln's Tomb and War Memorial at Oak Ridge Cemetery, the final resting place of Lincoln, his wife, and 3 of their children, as well as the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, the only surviving structure where Abraham worked as a lawyer from 1843 to 1852.

Lincoln Springfield Illinois Pixabay Public Domain

Lincoln Springfield Illinois Pixabay Public Domain

#2. Architectural Adventurer


Known as a popular hot spot for Frank Lloyd Wright architecture fans, Springfield offers a true treasure in the form of the Dana-Thomas House, Frank Lloyd Wright's first major Prarie-Style house. This home was built in 1902 and features over 35 rooms across 12,000 square feet. Take a 1 or 2-hour tour and learn more information on the home's genius architecture and the man behind it.

Another major architectural feature the city holds is the Old State Capitol, the center of the state's government from 1839 to 1876. Lincoln served here as State Legislator, giving his famous 'House Divided' speech within. The structure itself is something to behold though, with several amazing rotundas, libraries, courtrooms, and more to explore within. It is also known as one of the tallest buildings in Central Illinois.

#3. Governmental Glory


While in Illinois' capital your group can visit several different government-related buildings, from the aforementioned Old State Capitol to the New State Capitol and Illinois Governor's Mansion.

The Illinois Governor's Mansion is an Italianate-styled home boasting 16 rooms, first built in 1855. It is one of the oldest historic residences in the state and 3rd oldest continuously occupied government mansion in the United States.

Springfield Illinois State Capitol Building Stockfresh

Springfield, Illinois - entrance to State Capitol Building. Springfield, Illinois, USA.

#4. Foodie Fun

Food and Fun

The foodie scene is alive and well in Springfield, with several 'must-try' options throughout the city, including two of our personal favorites, the Horseshoe sandwich, and the Cozy Dog. D'arcy's Pint is the place to get a Horseshoe and there's no better option than Cozy Dog Drive-In, a staple eatery on Route 66 since 1949, for the latter!

Here is a list of the area's top eateries to explore in the area, though there is much more beyond this list:

  • Cozy Dog Drive-In
  • American Harvest Eatery
  • Old Capitol Farmers Market
  • D'arcy's Pint
  • Cafe Moxo

#5. Outdoor Explorer

Outdoor Recreation

Get out and enjoy the fresh air with your group during your Springfield day visit, with plenty to see and do around the area from the Washington Park Botanical Garden, the greenhouse and conservatory with gardens such as the rose garden, scent and texture garden, iris garden and more,  to the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary and Henson Robinson Zoo.

The Henson Robinson Zoo features over 300 animals representing over 80 species and sits on the shore of Lake Springfield, and the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary offers 40 acres of hiking trails through different habitats such as wetlands, prairies, and woodlands. Don't forget about The Lincoln Memorial Garden and Nature Center, the 100-acre woodland and prairie garden owned by the city that is perfect for a daytime hike!

Springfield Illinois Sugar Creek Bridge Stockfresh

Sugar Creek Covered Bridge. Chatham, Illinois, USA.

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