If a trip to Springfield and Lincoln’s Illinois home is in your family vacation plans, be prepared for an experience that you won’t forget. The Lincoln Home National Historic Site is not just a tour through Lincoln’s home in Springfield, it’s a step back into 1850s Illinois.
Planning your trip to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site begins with a visit to LHNHS webpage at NPS.gov where you will find hours, parking maps, ticket information and a helpful list of do’s and don’ts. We recently spent a morning at Lincoln’s Home and have a few other tips to help you plan.
Get there early. Admission to the Lincoln house is free but comes with a couple of caveats, the most important being that the tours are ranger led and limited in size to about 18 or so people. Since more people are interested in viewing the home than there are tickets, arriving earlier will increase the possibility of snagging tickets for you and your family.
Even though our family arrived at the Lincoln Home just a few minutes after it opened (8:40 a.m. on a rainy Sunday), there were already 50 people in front of us. We lucked out in that our tour was scheduled for 9:30. People who arrived an hour after we did were having to wait until early afternoon for the next available slot.
Wear comfy shoes. The Lincoln Home National Historic Site includes a visitor center, Lincoln’s home and a four block area surrounding the home that gives visitors a sense of what Lincoln’s neighborhood looked like back in the 1850s. We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes that will work for climbing staircases, walking upon the boardwalks, and crossing the gravel roads within the site.
Take time to tour the visitor’s center and the surrounding neighborhood. The Visitor center has some interesting interpretive panels and several short films which run regularly for 20-25 minutes. We spent nearly an hour in the visitor’s center and another hour strolling through Lincoln’s neighborhood and viewing the exhibits on display in some of the adjacent homes. Parts of the neighborhood are set up for cell phone audio tours in case you arrive after hours.
Limited parking. While there is some parking available on the site, there isn’t gobs of it. There is some parking on the street however plus in the downtown parking garages. We recommend bringing along a city map (get one free from your hotel desk clerk) to help you navigate from downtown parking to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The map will also come in handy for finding the five other Lincoln attractions that are in walking distance of his home.