We're thinking of arriving in Springield on a Wednesday afternoon, Walmarting it that night, parking at the Lincoln museum the next morning and spending about four hours there, then shoving off for our next destination, in Indiana. We have a forty foot diesel coach. Anybody familiar with the area, and the museum, have any thoughts on this plan? It would be in the first few days of May.
You'd better check Google Earth or some such for parking info - as I recall from our visit a few years ago, parking was underground, beneath the old capital building. Other than that, the museum itself is fantastic. 4 hours may not be enough. Be sure to watch carefully as you view the exhibits - not everything you think you see is what it seems.
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RV & bus parking available, not to worry. Agreed, fantastic museum, take your time. Lots of other stuff in the area too - the only house Lincoln ever owned, beautifully preserved and a short walk; his tomb in the Oak Ridge cemetery, a short drive; and of course the Cozy Dog Drive-In, a Route 66 landmark and home of the original "hotdog on a stick" a.k.a. corn dog - made fresh & tasty. I'm not from that area so I take a pass on the other local delight, the horseshoe sandwich - don't ask.
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Agree with agb about the other sites. Really interesting if you're a Linclon/history buff. In addition to those, there is Lincoln's Law Office, the old State Capitol, both right downtown and near the museum. A few other sites too. Not far from Springfield is New Salem, where Lincoln spent many of his formative years prior to his legal career, and was the postmaster for a short time. Fascinating area.
I'm very familiar with the area. Also very familiar with the Lincoln Presidential Museum.
If you just plan on doing a quick walk thru without stopping to see the exhibits and presentations then 4 hours will cover it. However, if you plan on seeing the museum then plan for most of the day. 4 hours isn't enough and you'll leave there very disappointed. It's a visit that requires time to see, read the exhibits, and see the presentations. It's a presidential museum like no other. It's part historic, part Disney animation, all informative. If you take your time and read what's there you'll learn a lot about Lincoln you never knew and understand better why he did the things he did.
Parking a 40 ft is going to be a challenge downtown. There is underground parking under the Old State Capitol 1 block south but no way you'd make clearance. There's a museum parking ramp 1 block north but no way you'd make clearance to enter. There is usually parking northside of the ramp but in the spring there are lots of school tours and school bus parking can overcrowd it. There's metered on-street parking west on Jefferson and east along 7th Street but IIRC those are all 2 hour meters, could be 4 hr. Not long enough for you to do the visit and you'd be taking up 2 spaces. Finding 2 spaces together might be difficult to find. There's a large parking lot east of the Museum. DO NOT park there. That belongs to a private business. A tow bill on a 40 ft RV could be expensive.
Lincoln's Home is about 4 blocks south of the Museum. There is paid bus parking at the Home which will handle a 40 ft RV and you could walk to the Museum. You might get lucky and find free on street parking on S. 8th St south of Lincoln's Home. It would make a 8-9 block walk to the Museum. It's hit or miss finding parking along S.8th and nothing you should count on finding available.
You really do want to visit his home while here. Also his tomb. The tours at both will help you understand more of what you see at the Museum. Also while you're downtown at the Museum you'll want to walk 1 block south to Lincoln's law office and visit the Old State Capitol.
You mentioned Thurs the first part of May. A word of warning. Thursday, May 3rd is Police Memorial. Many of the downtown streets will be closed in the AM around the state capital for the parade and presentations. That's about 8 blocks from Lincoln Museum but what it does is cause a rerouting of traffic in the downtown area. There's also construction going on just south of the Museum on 6th St so that will add to the congestion.
There are 3 Walmarts in Springfield. One on N. Dirksen north of Sangamon Ave. Another on S. 6th on the south side of Springfield at I-55 Exit 92. The 3rd Walmart is on the SW side off of Veterans Pkway north of I-72. Each of them is about 10-15 minute drive to the Museum.
You're really not going to see much of Lincoln with the schedule you've given. Here's what I would recommend. 2 days/3 nights.
Camp at Lincoln's New Salem State Historical Site south of Petersburg IL. It's about 20 minutes NW of Springfield. New Salem is where Lincoln grew up and spent his early life as an adult. There's a nice state campground. Quiet, shaded, electric, dump, water available, shower house.
Visit New Salem. It's a reconstructed village of the way it was in Lincoln's time. Do the tour (free) and you'll see what the area looked like and how Lincoln lived as he was growing up. Some evening during your stay take a walk thru the village at dusk. You'll most likely have the entire village to yourself. Walk quietly and you'll probably see deer, wild turkey, and other critters. You'll find it very peaceful and quiet.
Then drive into Springfield and visit Lincoln's Home, Law Office, Old State Capitol, current State Capitol, and Lincoln's Tomb
1 block east of the Presidential Museum to 7th St and 1 block south will take you to the Springfield Visitor's Bureau. Stop in there for info on sites and maps around town.
Take a tour of the current State Capitol building. If you've seen the Reese Witherspoon movie Legally Blonde 2 then you'll recognize the building. They used the IL state capitol as the US Capitol since they look alike, except the IL Capitol building is 60 ft taller.
If you have interest visit the new National Surveyor's Museum. Lincoln surveyed much of the area which is why the museum was drawn here.
If you still have time visit the IL State Military Museum at Camp Lincoln. It's the only place in the world where you'll find Santa Anna's wooden leg. The IL Militia captured it during a raid on Santa Anna's camp.
Drive back into Springfield to visit the Lincoln Presidential Museum. Plan for most of the day at the Museum. If you're out of there in under 6 hours then you went thru too fast and you didn't see it.
Sometime during your stay stop in just about any restaurant and have a Horseshoe (if you're hungry) or a Pony Shoe (1/2 size). The immediate area around Springfield is the only place you'll find a Horseshoe. 2 pieces of Texas toast, meat of your choice, covered with french fries, and all of it covered with cheese sauce. Every restaurant has their own cheese sauce recipe, some better than others. D'Acy's Pint is rated every year as having the best. Ask anyone around town how to get to D'Arcy's and they can direct you. Easy to find.
That agenda will get you to the major Lincoln sites and you'll leave having a better understanding of Lincoln as a person and president.
We spent one entire day seeing the house, the law office (very interesting tour), and the museum. We ran out of time and wished we had allowed another day. If possible and you enjoy history, I would try to add another day. We stayed at the state park nearby which was very nice.
We drove up from St Louis last year in our dually & parked in the parking garage. Started in the Visitor's Center, then spent most of the day inside the Museum, even ate lunch inside. It was a wonderful experience.
We also walked across the street to the Library & looked downstairs at the prints & pictures on the walls, but didn't stay as long. Meant to go back again to see more of the city, but never made it.
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We spent 2 days going thru the museum.and another day visiting the various Lincoln sites.If you only spend 4 hours at the museum,it will be like taking
only one bite of dinner and leaving the rest.You will be hungry for more and will wish you had more time.Whatever it takes it will be well worth it.
We even met "Mr Lincoln" himself in the park across the street.We tried to get the man to step out of character,but he just looked at us with a confused look,and wondered why were were dressed in such odd attire.Inside the museum,there is no telling who you might see.
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