Illinois is turning 200 this year and what a better way to celebrate the Land of Lincoln's birthday with a trip on Amtrak to Springfield.
Getting there-Springfield is a quick three-plus hours by train from Chicago. With six trains a day that go as fast as 109 mph on the new upgraded track and fares as low as $17 one way, there is no need to drive. All trains feature a snack bar with adult libations and you can even upgrade to business class, which gives you access to the swanky Metropolitan ( first-class ) lounge at Chicago's Union Station. See Amtrak.com .
Where to stay: The Wyndham is very nice, as is the Doubletree across the street. Both are just east of the Amtrak Springfield Station which is located right downtown as well. The State House Inn is another option I like with its modernist design. You will find it just east of the Capitol.
Where to Eat: Cafe Moxo at 411 E. Adams has a great menu of home made soups and salads as well as several creative dishes. The Custom Cup Coffee at 321 E. Monroe roasts their own beans and has some tasty food items as well. I bought some micro roasted coffee to bring home.
Nightlife: The Station House just south of the Amtrak station has nightly specials. Karaoke starts at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, and the dance floor is open Friday and Saturday nights. It is the only LGBTQ bar in Springfield.
What to do: Just east and south of the Capitol is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site managed by the National Park Service. It features restored orignal homes where Lincoln lived in a charming village setting. Make your first stop the Visitor Center and then tour the small village. You will find it at 413 S. 8th Street. Details are at www.nps.gov/liho.
The Illinois State Museum, just south of the Capitol, is another must. Every third Sunday this year they are featuring a special program on the Culture and Heritage of Illinoisans. You will find them at 502 S. Spring.
The State Capitol is also worth a visit, as is the Old State Capitol. The restored Executive Mansion re-opens in June and will feature tours.
Visit SpringfieldIllinois.com has the full list of things to see and do.
On Aug. 25-26, they will celebrate Constitution Day and other events including Founders Day and Womens Equality Day with a special festival. Details will be posted soon at IL200Springfield.org .
Travel to Springfield from Chicago could not be easier on Amtrak. It makes for a fun weekend get away and you can walk to all the attractions.
Bill Malcolm recently attended the Governor's Illinois Travel and Tourism Conference. He wishes to thank Tourism Director Cory Jobe and his staff for their hospitality. Illinois has one of the most innovative targeted marketing and outreach travel programs of any state thanks to his innovative leadership which has included targeted print and TV ads targeted at LGBTQ travelers.