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Great River Road in Illinois National Scenic Byway
Explore the heart of America! Follow the Mississippi River as it winds its way along Illinois' western border from Galena to Cairo. Experience over 550 miles of small towns, big cities, historic sites, recreational areas, cultural attractions and museums. Follow the green and white paddle wheel signs as they guide your next adventure!
Looking for Lincoln Audio Tour
This CD-based audio tour presents President Lincoln as a returning visitor, talking about the places he visited and their meaning to him. Whether you drive the route or enjoy the tour from your favorite armchair, the audio tour is a special and novel way to learn about the history of Lincoln and the role Bloomington-Normal played in his life. The CD can be purchased at the McLean County Museum of History
Historic Normal Theater
Located in Uptown Normal, the Normal Theater originally opened in 1937 and was the first movie theater in Bloomington-Normal built specifically for sound films. An Art Deco showplace built with streamline design, the Normal Theater has been completely restored to its original condition. It now operates as a film center, showing classic films on the big screen as well as independent and world cinema titles. In addition, the theater is used for a wide variety of non-film events and is available for rentals where assembly seating is required.
American taphouse serving flatbreads, burgers & pasta. Located in Downtown Bloomington in Abraham Lincoln's former law office.
Behind the Curtain Tour - Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts
The fascinating history of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts comes to life in the Behind the Curtain historic tour program. Led by a group of specially trained docents, you'll not only see the beautiful neo-Classical interior design of the BCPA, but also learn all about the many technical and patron service updates achieved in the building's significant renovation. You won't want to miss this surprising, fascinating, and fun-filled look at one of Bloomington's historic and most thriving buildings. Bring your stories, your questions, and, above all, your curiosity. Behind the Curtain tours are one hour in length and can accommodate a wide variety of group sizes.
Lemont Area Historical Society
Historic museum located inside of a national registered church built during the Civil War. We offer exhibits, tours and the "old stone church" chapel is available for rental of weddings and special occasion ceremonies.
History Comes Alive
Many sites and attractions in historic Springfield will be brimming with free live performances and fun activities that will transport you and your family back in time – to the Springfield Abraham Lincoln knew and loved. From storytelling and interaction with costumed interpreters to visits with Mr. Lincoln, himself, this is a trip to the past you won't want to miss! History Comes Alive will run through August 13th.
Cruisin' With Lincoln on 66
The main source for information about McLean County’s historic and modern attractions in the Bloomington-Normal area is the "Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66" Visitors Center. Located in Downtown Bloomington, the Visitors Center provides information on all of the wonderful attractions, events, dining and lodging available in McLean County. Their exhibits highlight two types of heritage tourism that is integral to Central Illinois: Historic Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln. The gift shop is filled with local products, memorabilia and more!
Villa Park Historical Museum
Built in 1929, the Villa Park Historical Museum building originally served the community as the Villa Ave stop for the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin electric train line and an appliance store. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Today, it houses relics and artifacts from Villa Park's past including articles from the Ovaltine Factory which once operated in Villa Park and Sears Catalog Homes in the area.
Woodland Palace at Francis Park
A must-see attraction in Kewanee is the Woodland Palace at Francis Park, the first “green” home in Illinois. This unusual home was built way ahead of its time and is filled with engineering wonders. Learn about the quirky and eccentric man who built and lived in the home. Fred Francis was an artist, poet, inventor, builder, mathematician, engineer, and a naturist. Francis started to build the home in 1890 and worked on it for the next thirty-six years. It features hand-carved molding, a water purification system, and is the first house in the state of Illinois to have air-conditioning without the aid of electricity. View the sophisticated achievements of disappearing windows, doors, and more. Visit a home where everything seems to work in harmony. Woodland Palace is open seven days a week from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. April through October 1.
C.H. Moore Homestead
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this restored mansion and grounds whisk visitors back to the Victorian era. Once home to Clinton attorney Clifton H. Moore, visitors will enjoy tours and stories of the friend and law partner of Abraham Lincoln who one resided there. Home of the DeWitt County Museum.
Little Popcorn Store
A cherished landmark in the heart of downtown Wheaton, The Little Popcorn Shop is perhaps one of the most loved and narrowest stores in the Chicagoland area measuring 49 inches wide by 60 feet long. The store’s small, quaint space is like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. Popcorn is freshly popped, candy lines the wall, and locals greet each other warmly while welcoming newcomers to this very special place called The Little Popcorn Shop.
Historic Self-Guided Tours
DeKalb County Convention & Visitors Bureau Books are available to assist you.
North Grove School
North Grove School, 3 miles northwest of Sycamore, was built in 1878 by the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church as a parochial and Sunday school. Pupils of diverse ethnic backgrounds learned their lessons in Swedish, even several years after the DeKalb County public school system purchased the school in 1880. The Sycamore unit district acquired the school in 1949, and it continued as a school until 1952, when it was closed. The North Grove community continued to lovingly maintain the building and used it as a neighborhood social center for many years. Classroom in School Upon the closing of North Grove School in 1952, all furnishings were removed. However many furnishings from old Sycamore schools were still in storage in the 1960s when the Natural Resource Center in Genoa began using the site for special education programs. The school was refurbished and re-supplied using these furnishings, with additional period pieces being donated by private citizens. In 1970 North Grove School at 26745 Brickville Road (Map) was listed in the Illinois Directory of Historical Buildings. On May 24, 2012 the United States Department of the Interior placed the school and its outbuildings on the National Register of Historical Places. Today the school is still owned by the Sycamore School District but is leased to and lovingly cared for by the North Grove School Association, whose goal is to preserve this educational icon for future generations.
Sycamore Public Library
Although the Sycamore Public Library did not open its doors until 1892, we can trace its roots back to 1875 when a Chautauqua Scientific Circle was formed in Sycamore. Once members had completed the course, they established the Athena Literary Society in order to form a public library. Over the course of three years they raised $700 and asked city council to appropriate money for books and that the mayor appoint a board of directors. On July 12, 1892, the Sycamore Public Library opened in Hoyt and Rogers’ Store, second floor, in the backroom. This building now is occupied by Marlyn’s Majorettes. The City Council appropriated $800 to purchase books. The Athena Literary Society assisted with funding the library for the first two years. Miss Flora Jeannette Dow, a member of Athena, was the first librarian. In 1902, Andrew Carnegie offered the City of Sycamore $10,000 for the construction of a library, provided an acceptable site could be secured and that the Sycamore City Council would annually appropriate at least 10% of his donation for maintaining the building. Mr. Frederick B. Townsend donated the property where the library stands today. Miss Dow received the honor of placing the first trowel of mortar on the cornerstone on May 24, 1905. Over the next 90 years, several renovation and remodeling projects took place and then on October 14, 1995, a new era of growth began with the groundbreaking ceremony for the library expansion. Today we are looking at ways to serve the community’s needs by providing the best possible services and programs available.
Old Settlers’ Day and Colony School Reunion
Celebrate the 169th anniversary of the Bishop Hill Colony and the 119th year of the Old Settler’s Association. Enjoy a traditional chicken dinner, the High Society Band Concert and program featuring Bishop Hill Colony descendants’ speakers. Sunday a reunion of students and teachers from the Bishop Hill Colony School takes place and memories are shared. Hours: 11:30 am to 3 pm.
Ernest Hemingway Birthplace
Visit the Victorian home where Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899 and spent his early life.
J.H. Hawes Grain Elevator
Illinois’ only fully restored wooden grain elevator listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An outdoor, self-guided interpretive tour allows visitors to experience the Elevator Museum anytime. Open June, July and August: Sundays 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., call ahead.
Carthage Jail & Visitor's Center
Built of native yellow limestome from 1839-1841, this was the site where Mormon leader, Joseph Smith Jr. and his brother were killed by an angry mob on June 27, 1844, resulting in the Mormons' famous trek west that led to the founding of Salt Lake City, UT.
This turn-of-the-century Victorian house was ordered through the Sears Roebuck catalog and assembled for only several hundred dollars.
The Farmers Monument
This impressive black granite piece located on the grounds of Vandalia's Tourist Information Center is a tribute to prairie farmers.
Southwestern Farm & Home Museum
This living memorial offers an insight into rural and farming life, with exhibits that include antique farm implements and a number of household items.
Phone Booth on Lincoln City Hall
Built in 1895, the red brick for the building came from the Lincoln Coal Company. A unique telephone booth on the roof was added later and was used by weather spotters to phone in sighted storms. Lincoln City Hall anchors the downtown National Historic Registered District and is one of the city's most visible symbols.
1930's Ag Museum
This privately owned museum houses forty-two John Deere farm implements manufactured in the late 1920's through 1940. Showcased is a 1936 Model B John Deere Tractor, fully restored. The Ag Museum also features an antique horse equipment collection and period farm house furnishings, as well as equipment and hand tools found on a 1930's farmstead. All free of charge, open by appointment, located on the northern edge of Quincy.