We celebrated the National Park Service's recent centennial by visiting historic sites in Illinois. From Abraham Lincoln to Lewis & Clark historic sites, there are plenty of unique places to explore.
Free tours are offered at the fascinating Lincoln Home in Springfield, a National Historic Site. Abraham Lincoln and his family lived here from 1844 until they left for the White House. The historic site also features a visitors center and restored neighborhood homes.
Chicago’s Pullman State Historic Site was proclaimed a National Monument in 2015. This company town was created in the late 1800s for employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company. Although the grand Hotel Florence is under renovation, docents lead free Sunday tours of the Pullman Factory.
The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail includes the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford. Learn about the famed explorers who set out from Illinois on their history–making voyage, see a full-scale model of the keelboat they sailed in and tour Camp River Dubois.
The river town of Nauvoo is part of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Joseph Smith Historic Site, which tells the story of Nauvoo’s Latter-day Saints movement and features the homestead of prophet Joseph Smith.
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail passes through the town of Golconda. The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with notable sites that include the Buel House, a two-story log home built in 1837, and the elegant mansions of Silk Stocking Row.
The Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal National Heritage Corridor honors the 96-mile, hand-dug canal that opened up trade in America’s heartland in 1848. Today, hikers and bikers take to the scenic I&M Canal State Trail to see historic sites in charming canal towns. History buffs will want to set sail on the mule-pulled LaSalle Canal Boat, manned by a crew dressed as storytelling pioneers.
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area covers a 42-county region of central Illinois and is the only heritage area named for a president. Discover important Lincoln sites such as the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Mt. Pulaski Courthouse and the Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna.