Springfield is a city in the center of the state of Illinois. It is the state's capital — not Chicago — and the county seat of Sangamon County. Springfield is best known for its most famous resident, Abraham Lincoln, and there are several historic sites that are dedicated to him.
The city was founded as "Calhoun", after John C. Calhoun. In 1832, the city was renamed to Springfield, derived from Spring Creek, a tributary of the Sangamon River.
In the early 1830s, Abraham Lincoln moved to Springfield and lived here for a long time until he became president in 1861. He and his associates (commonly known as the "Long Nine") were largely responsible for making the city the capital of the state.
Springfield has grown from a small city to one of the largest cities in Illinois, with a population of almost 115,000 people (2020).
As the capital of Illinois, the state of Illinois is one of the city's major employers. Springfield also has a significant regional presence in healthcare and education, as the location of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Memorial Hospital Springfield, HSHS St. John's Hospital, Springfield Clinic, and the University of Illinois Springfield.
I-55 approaches from the north and south. US-36 and I-72 approach from the east and west. Downtown has readily available curbside metered parking as well as an underground garage beneath the Old State Capitol. Most attractions have ample parking in adjacent lots or garages.
1 Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI IATA), 1200 Capital Airport Dr, ☏ +1 217 788-1060, fax: +1 217 788-8056. The airport is on the northwest side of the city. United Airlines offers are regular flights to and from Chicago O'Hare International Airport into Springfield. American Airlines offers regularly scheduled flights to and from Dallas/Fort Worth DFW. Allegiant Airlines offers flights to and from Mesa Arizona AZA and Punta Gorda, Florida PGD. From the airport, rental cars or taxis are available to get into the city. Many of the hotels also have courtesy shuttles. No city bus service is available.
Amtrak has five daily trains from Chicago via Bloomington-Normal and Joliet with its Lincoln Service. Additionally, the once-daily Texas Eagle between Chicago and San Antonio, Texas (with carriages continuing to Los Angeles three times a week) stops here. 2 Springfield station is centrally located at 100 North 3rd St and is within walking distance of downtown and several local bus routes. Taxi service is usually available outside the station.
3 Greyhound, 2815 N Dirksen Pkwy, ☏ +1 217 528-1569. M-F 9AM-6PM & 7:30PM-9PM, Sa 9AM-2PM & 7:30PM-9PM. The bus station is located on the northeast side of town, operating out of Shaner's Tire, which includes a bus ticket office that operates the same hours as the bus stop.; Local SMTD bus route 16 - Bergen Park / Sandhill services the bus stop in front of Shaner's and gets downtown in about 30 minutes, operating from 6:15AM to 5:45PM. The night service route 901 bus makes hourly trips from 7:15PM to 10:15PM but the closest stop is at the southwest corner of the Walmart building which is about a half-mile southeast from Shaner's. Something to keep in mind if you're getting into town late and have a lot of luggage to haul around. Other options would be a taxi or Uber.
4 SMTD, 928 S Ninth St, ☏ +1 217 522-5531. M-F 6AM-11:15PM, Sa 6AM-6PM. The Sangamon Mass Transit District operates local mass transit as well as a paratransit service, Access Sangamon, six days per week, Monday-Saturday, except major holidays. 17 fixed routes cover the city in the daytime. After 6PM, night service routes 901-905 cover the city on an hourly basis but night service only operates Monday-Friday. Each bus is equipped with a bike rack that can hold up to 2 bikes. $1.25.
- Due to ongoing state budget uncertainty the district has had to enact some cuts to night service (all schedules will end an hour earlier, no night service on Saturdays, and route 904 is cut entirely) and could see more cuts in the future so refer to the website for any sudden developments.
- Fare is $1.25 and includes a free transfer that you should request from the driver when boarding. Daytime buses all meet at the downtown on-street transfer center located at 5th Street & Capitol Avenue, while night service buses meet on the north side of the Old State Capitol on Washington Street between 5th Street and 6th Street.
- The website has online schedules for each route. SMTD also provides their schedule data to a number of web/mobile apps including Google Maps, Bing Maps, Moovit, and TripGo which can be used to plan trips. Note that SMTD does not provide real-time information.
Springfield is home to numerous attractions.
- 1 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, 212 N 6th St, ☏ +1 217 558-8844, toll-free: +1-800-610-2094. Daily 9AM-5PM. This stunning museum features extremely rare artifacts to Lincoln & others around him. Completely 21st Century (in a good way), this has to be a must see. The museum features an orientational Fourth-dimensional theater which is stunning. $7.50/5.50/3.50/Free (Adults/Seniors 62+ & Military (with ID) & Students (with ID)/Children 5-15/Children under 5).
- 2 Lincoln Home National Historic Site, 426 S Seventh St, ☏ +1 217 492-4241 ext 266. Daily 8:30AM-5PM except 1 Jan 1st, 4th Th of Nov, and 25 Dec. The site features Abraham Lincoln's residence of 17 years, beautifully restored to its 1860 appearance. Entry to the home itself is only by ranger guided tour, but tickets can be obtained at the Visitor Center desk, and admission is free. The Visitor Center also offers an orientation film, along with other exhibits that change periodically. In addition to the home, a four-block area has been preserved to look as it would in Lincoln's time period. Several of the other homes feature exhibits as well. Free tour tickets. Parking $2.
- 3 Lincoln-Herndon Law Office (Sixth and Adams Sts), ☏ +1 217 785-7960. Closed for renovations. Featured here is the only surviving structure where Lincoln maintained working law offices. It has been restored and features an historical exhibit on the first floor. Guided tours are available, with a suggested donation. The building is located just a stones throw away from the old state capitol, a great convenience for both Lincoln and the modern traveler.
- 4 Old State Capitol, 1 Old Capitol Plaza, ☏ +1 217 785-7960. Daily 9AM- 5PM, closed most holidays. This building served as the seat of the Illinois state government from 1839-1876. It was here that Mr. Lincoln served his final term in the Illinois House of Representatives, and where he gave his famous "House Divided" speech. He used some rooms in the capitol as his presidential campaign headquarters. On 3–4 May 1865, an estimated 75,000 mourners filed past Lincoln's body as it lay in state in Representatives Hall, located in the capitol building. Guided tours are available, the last one will begin 45 minutes before closing. The tour takes about 30 minutes, and a 15-minute orientation video is also available. The entire building is handicap accessible.
- 5 Lincoln Tomb (Oak Ridge Cemetery), ☏ +1 217 782-2717. Mar-Oct: daily 9AM-5PM, Jun-Aug: Tu 7PM-8PM. Nov-Feb: daily 9AM-4PM. Closed most holidays. Lincoln's Tomb is located within Oak Ridge Cemetery, the second most visited cemetery in the United States, after Arlington National Cemetery. Within the large monument is the final resting place of Lincoln and most of his immediate family. The small receiving vault where Lincoln's casket was originally placed is also located nearby. The tomb's interior is handicap accessible, but the exterior upper deck is not.
- 6 Lincoln Depot, 930 E. Monroe St. (10th & Monroe), ☏ +1 217 544-8695, +1 217 788-1356. M-F 10AM-4PM; Sa holidays: call for availability. This restored railroad depot, located a few blocks from Abraham Lincoln's home, was where he started his inaugural journey to Washington, D.C. On 11 February 1861, a large crowd gathered outside to watch him board a special presidential train. Free.
- Illinois Korean War Memorial, Oak Ridge cemetery, ☏ +1 217 782-2177, +1 217 788-1356. Apr-Aug: 7AM-8PM, Sep-Mar: 7AM-5:30PM.
- 7 Dana-Thomas House (Susan Lawrence Dana House), 301 E Lawrence Ave, ☏ +1 217 782-6776. W-Su 9AM-5PM, and seasonally M Tu 10AM-2PM. Prairie style house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that has been fully restored and preserved as a museum. Decorated with hundreds of pieces of original art glass and furniture designed by Wright for this location. The house was designed as a showplace for a Springfield socialite and it continues to impress visitors today. Free with ooportunity to leave a cash donation.
- 8 Lincoln Memorial Garden, 2301 E Lake Dr, ☏ +1 217 529-1111. Daily sunrise to sunset. Nature Center: Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM; Su 1-4PM. Informal woodland garden designed by Jens Jensen. Consists of one hundred acres along Lake Springfield with more than five miles of nature trails populated by native Illinois wildflowers and trees. Also includes the Ostermeier Prairie, which is a restored century old farmstead. Free.
- 9 Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site (in Petersburg, 20 mi/32 km NW), ☏ +1 217 632-4000. Daily. This reconstruction of over two dozen 1830s log cabin houses at their original sites where Lincoln lived as a young man for over six years. Period costumes, oral historians and an attached evening theatre (see Performances link at this site) make this village of interest for all ages.
- 10 Illinois State Museum, 502 S Spring St, ☏ +1 217 782-7386.
- 11 Vachel Lindsay House, 603 S Fifth St, ☏ +1 217 782-6776. Guided tours by appointment only. The birthplace and longtime home of the early 20th-century poet. The home was built prior to the Civil War, with a rear addition built by Lindsay's father in 1893.
- 12 Illinois State Capitol.
- 13 Springfield and Central Illinois African-American History Museum, 1440 Monument Ave, ☏ +1 217 391-6323. Tu-F noon-4PM, Sa 10AM-5PM.
- 14 Edwards Place Historic Home, 700 North 4th St, ☏ +1 217 523-2631.
- 1 Knight's Action Park, 1700 Recreation Dr (Exit 93 off I-72), ☏ +1 217 546-8881, [email protected]. Water park, miniature golf, go-carts, golf driving range, baseball batting cages, arcade and more.
- Springfield Sliders, Lanphier Ball Park, 1415 N Grand Ave E, ☏ +1 217 679-3511, [email protected]. Summer wooden-bat college league baseball team. Promotions, silly contests and giveaways at nearly every opportunity during the game keeps everyone involved. $6-8.
- 2 Bank of Springfield Center (formerly Prairie Capital Convention Center), 1 Convention Center Plaza (downtown at the cnr of 9th and Adams Sts), ☏ +1 217 788-8800.
- 3 Lake Springfield. A reservoir that also serves as a popular fishing spot.
Springfield has been the home of several influential artists who have contributed immensely to American culture. Staying true to this, there are numerous entertainment opportunities in the city.
- 4 Route 66 Drive-in, 1700 Recreation Dr (Exit 93 off I-72), ☏ +1 217 546-8881. dusk F Sa nights May-Sep. A drive-in theatre. $6, Ages 4-12 $4, Ages 3 and under free.
- 5 The Muni (Springfield Municipal Opera), 815 E Lake Dr, ☏ +1 217 793-6864. This non-profit community theater stages four musicals each summer at their outdoor amphitheater. The organization has been active at this location for more than 50 years, which testifies to the fine productions. Park-like setting has areas for pre-show picnics. Reserved seats and lawn are both available.
- 6 Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S 6th St, ☏ +1 217 523-2787, fax: +1 217 523-4895. A wide variety of music, dance and drama performances are staged at this downtown arts center. There is also art gallery space and a local artisans shop. Free evening and weekend parking in the ramp next door. Within walking distance of several restaurants downtown
- 7 UIS Performing Arts Center, One University Plaza (on the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield), ☏ +1 217 206-6160, fax: +1 217 206-6391, [email protected]. A large venue that hosts big-name national touring acts of music, dance, broadway theater, etc.
There are a quite a number of learning opportunities in Springfield.
Universities and colleges
- 1 University of Illinois Springfield, 1 University Plaza, ☏ +1 217-206-6600. The newest of the University of Illinois's three campuses. Founded in 1970 as Sangamon State University, the University of Illinois Springfield claims a student body of 5,000 and a vibrant, modern prairie-style campus.
- 2 Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, 801 N Rutledge, ☏ +1 217-545-8000. This school, founded in the 1970s and affiliated with Memorial Medical Center and St. John's Hospital, has as its mission to provide doctors for central and southern Illinois.
- Recycled Records, 625 E Adams St (Near the Hilton Downtown), ☏ +1 217 522-5122, fax: +1 217 525-2917, [email protected]. M-F 9AM-5:30PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su closed. One of the largest independent record stores in the nation including a huge selection of new and vinyl. Also a buy/sell store dealing in DVDs, CDs, stereo equipment and more! A must-see in the downtown area.
- Prairie Archives, 522 E Adams St (downtown on the Old Capital Plaza), ☏ +1 217 522-9742. M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Friendly used bookseller with an extensive, widely-varied inventory. Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War are specialties of the shop. You can get lost for hours here.
- Pease's Candy. A local candymaker still run by the original family now in its fifth generation. Chocolates, caramel, fudge, nuts, hard candy, etc.
- State and Laurel (E of MacArthur Blvd), ☏ +1 217 523-3721. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM.
- Parkway Pointe Shopping Center (off Veterans Pkwy), ☏ +1 217 793-9868. M-Sa 9AM-9PM, Su 11AM-5PM.
- Sangamon Center North (off Sangamon Ave), ☏ +1 217 528-2810. M-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM.
- Penny Lane Gifts, 2901 S MacArthur Blvd, ☏ +1 217 787-2996. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Rock T-shirts, posters, mirrors, candles, incense, smoking supplies, crystals, adult toys, figurines.
- Ergadoo, 1320 S State St, ☏ +1 217 544-9466. Educational toy store and teacher's supply. Lots of clever games and imaginative toys. Also children's art supplies.
- 1 White Oaks Mall, 2501 Wabash Ave, ☏ +1 217 787-0110. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM.
One of the legendary food items that is part of the heritage of Springfield is the horseshoe sandwich. The horseshoe sandwich originated in Springfield, Illinois sometime in the early 20th century at the Leland Hotel. You can get horseshoe sandwiches at most Springfield restaurants, at some restaurants in central Illinois, and at a few restaurants in other parts of the state. Horseshoes are not generally served outside of Illinois.
A traditional horseshoe is two hamburgers each on a piece of toast with fries and cheese sauce over the top. Variations now include broiled(or deep fried) tenderloins, shaved ham, shaved chicken and even vegetarian variations. A pony shoe is half a horseshoe - a sufficient quantity for most people.
- Charlie Parker's, 700 North St, ☏ +1 217 241-2104. Extra tasty American diner food served in a quonset hut decorated with rock-n-roll memorabilia. $5-12.
- 1 Cozy Dog Drive In, 2935 S 6th St, ☏ +1 217 525-1992, fax: +1 217-525-8539, [email protected]. M-Sa 8AM-8PM. One of the original restaurants on historic Route 66. Their specialty is the Cozy Dog, a cornbread-encased wiener known elsewhere as a corn dog. $3-8.
- 1124 W Jefferson St, ☏ +1 217 793-9101.
- 530 E Capitol St, ☏ +1 217 789-9101.
- 3311 Robbins Rd, ☏ +1 217 726-9202.
- The Chili Parlor, 820 S 9th St, ☏ +1 217 523-4989. M-Sa 11AM-4PM. One of the classic Springfield chili parlors. It used to be known as Joe Roger's Chili and still uses the same chili recipe. Their chili is mixed to order with or without beans, with or without meat and available with six different levels of spiciness. Eat a bowl of the hottest style, the JR Special, and get your name on the wall. Yes, in Springfield it is proper to spell it with only one "l". $4-8.
- 2 Maid-Rite Sandwich Shop, 118 N Pasfield St, ☏ +1 217 523-0723. M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa 11AM-3PM. Classic fast food restaurant serving distinctive loose meat sandwiches of spiced ground beef. Claims to have the first drive-thru window in the country. $4-7.
- Darcy's Pint, 661 W Stanford Ave, ☏ +1 217 492-8800. M-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, Bar open until 1AM. Typical Irish style pub with better than typical fare. They make a little extra effort with the food and it shows. Good place to try a horseshoe. Very busy at typical meal times. $8-16.
- Incredibly Delicious, 925 S 7th St, ☏ +1 217 528-8548, fax: +1 217 528-7355. French inspired bakery and cafe with artisanal bread and tempting desserts located in an old Italianate house. Sandwiches, salads and quiches also served for lunch. All-butter croissants are a specialty. $5-10.
- Saputo Twins Corner, 801 E Monroe St, ☏ +1 217 522-0105. M-F 10:30AM-11PM, Sa 5-11PM, Su 5-10PM. Serving the same well-made basic Italian food that has remained a local favorite for decades. $10-15.
- Fritz's Wagon wheel, 2709 S MacArthur Blvd, ☏ +1 217 546-9888. Tu-Su 4:30PM-10PM. American style supper club serving steaks, seafood, ribs, etc. $10-25.
- Gateway to India, 3115 Chatham Rd, ☏ +1 217 726-6890. Indian cuisine. The lunch buffet is tasty and economical. $10-15.
- Maldaner's Restaurant, 222 S Sixth St, ☏ +1 217 522-4313. Daily 11AM-2:30PM, 5-10PM. Landmark fine dining (since 1884) convenient to many of the historic sites. Menu emphasizes local and organically grown foods. Seasonal al fresco dining available. Lunch is a particularly good value with a special menu of soups, salads and sandwiches. Reservations recommended for dinner. Lunch $5-10, dinner $15-30.
- Old Luxembourg Inn, 1900 S 15th St, ☏ +1 217 528-0503. Tu-Su 4:30PM-10PM. Family-owned steak house popular with locals and visiting politicians. In the more than 60 years this restaurant has been open, the surrounding neighborhood has had ups and downs, but the Old Lux has remained consistently good. $8-25.
- Floyd's Thirst Parlor, 210 S 5th St (downtown), ☏ +1 217 522-2020. Two-level bar in the heart of downtown that tends to attract a younger crowd. Great drink selection. Upstairs has a few pool tables, air hockey, and skee-ball.
- The Gin Mill, 235 S 5th St (downtown), ☏ +1 217 523-3050.
- Bar None, 245 S 5th St (downtown), ☏ +1 217 523-3050.
- 1 Obed & Isaac's Microbrewery, 500 S 6th St (a block west of the Lincoln Home), ☏ +1 217 670-0627. Good place to stop for a drink and some grub while in the Lincoln Home area. It has a spacious, dog-friendly beer garden with picnic tables and bocce ball courts.
- 2 Celtic Mist Pub, 117 S 7th St (downtown), ☏ +1 217 528-7000. One of the few bars in town open until 3 AM sees most of its business after 1 when the other bars close. Lots of out-of-town folks tend to go here since it's in walking distance of several hotels.
- 3 Brewhaus, 617 E Washington St (downtown), ☏ +1 217 525-6399.
- Comfort Inn, 3442 Freedom Dr (Located off Interstate 72/US 36 West), ☏ +1 217 787-2250.
- Comfort Suites, 2620 S Dirksen Pkwy, ☏ +1 217 753-4000. Featuring 91 double and king suites each with distinct sleeping and work/leisure areas.
- Microtel Inn & Suites, 2636 Sunrise Dr, ☏ +1 217 718-6842.
- The State House Inn a Clarion Collection Hotels, 101 E Adams, ☏ +1 217 528-5100. A hotel rich in history as well as a signature style and modern technology.
- Sleep Inn, 3470 Freedom Dr (off I-72), ☏ +1 217 787-6200.
- 1 Wyndham Springfield City Centre, 700 E Adams St, ☏ +1 217 789-1530. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Located in downtown Springfield, the hotel is thirty stories tall. The cylinder-shaped black and white building is the tallest in Springfield. Non-smoking, pet friendly.
- Crowne Plaza Hotel, 3000 S Dirksen Pkwy (directly off I-55), ☏ +1 217 529-7777.
- Inn At 835 Boutique Hotel, 835 S 2nd St, ☏ +1 217-523-4466. Check-in: 3-9PM, check-out: noon.
- 2 President Abraham Lincoln Springfield - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 701 E Adams St, ☏ +1 217-544-8800. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Connected to Springfield Convention Center via skybridge and offers an airport shuttle. Also has WiFi included and an indoor pool. Non-smoking, no pets.
- Riverside Campground, 4115 Sandhill Rd, ☏ +1 217-753-0630. Run by the Springfield Park District, with campground hosts on-site. 87 campsites, dump station, accessible restroom and shower house. Reservations accepted May 1- Oct 31. Motorized campers $35/night, Pop up camper $25, Tent camper $20.
Virtually everyone in Springfield works for the State of Illinois (the local government), the city's largest and most dominant employer.
Springfield is an ideal place for those wishing to get a government job. The prospect of serving a state and making a difference with your work excites many. Government jobs entitle you to several benefits and privileges, much more than what many other companies can offer.
The local government doesn't provide employment visa sponsorships (e.g. H-1B visa status). If you are neither a US citizen or a permanent resident, your chances of finding a job with the local government are next-to impossible.
A valuable resource to check out is this: Careers at State of Illinois.
The city has seen a dramatic rise in panhandlers in the downtown area, especially near bars. Most are harmless but be cautious. Otherwise use common sense. Don't wander down dark alleys or leave valuables clearly visible in a parked vehicle and you should be fine.
Dial 911 to get emergency help.
- Springfield Police Department, 800 East Monroe, ☏ 911 (emergencies), +1 217-788-8311 (non-emergency number), [email protected]. The main law enforcement agency in the city.
- Springfield Fire Department, 825 East Capitol, ☏ 911 (emergencies), +1 217-788-8450 (non-emergency number). The main fire protection agency in the city.
The city provides a free wifi service, "SpringfieldFreeWifi," for the downtown area from Second to Ninth streets and East Jefferson Street to East Capitol Avenue.
There are no consulates or embassies in Springfield. If you run into any trouble, or if you need assistance of any kind, head over to Chicago.
|Routes through Springfield|
|St. Louis ← Carlinville ←||S/SW N/NE||→ Lincoln → Chicago|
|Bloomington ← Sherman ←||N S||→ Litchfield → St. Louis|
|Hannibal ← Jacksonville ←||W E||→ Decatur → Champaign|
|St. Louis ← Litchfield ←||W E||→ Sherman → Bloomington|
|END ←||N S||→ Carlinville → Jct W E|