When someone asks you what the capital of Illinois is, do you know the answer? Most people would say Chicago, but the sad truth is that they’re wrong. The capital of Illinois is about three and a half hours south of the Windy City and goes by the name of Springfield. The Land of Lincoln is what I call a “big town/small city” because although the population is more than 100,000, it seems as though everyone knows everyone in one way or another. Over Easter Weekend I pulled together some highlights of my lovely hometown in hopes that you, the lovely darling reading this guide, will get the chance to experience it for yourself someday. I’ve put together an all-day menu as well as a couple of attractions in Springfield that are must-sees of any visitor!
Breakfast: Charlie Parker’s Diner
Try to get here bright and early, because by 9 a.m. this place is packed to the brim. From the outside, it looks less than exciting, because it’s a rather small looking building, but once you walk inside you see a buzzing atmosphere with records and old memorabilia lining the walls. The staff at Charlie Parker’s always so chipper and ready to serve, even at the earliest of mornings.
Recommended dish: Plate-sized pancake. I mean it when I tell you that it takes up the size of a normal dinner plate. There is even a pizza-sized pancake, and a standing challenge of finishing a stack of three pizza-sized pancakes!
Lunch: D’Arcy’s Pint
If you are a visitor to Springfield the one thing that a local will tell you is to try a horseshoe. A local delicacy consisting of Texas toast, choice of meat, French fries, and specialty sauce, this dish is enough to last you throughout the day. D’Arcy’s service even at their busiest lunch hour is quick, so you’re not left waiting for a long time for this tremendous meal! (Could be a dinner as well!)
Mexican food is my favorite option for a dinner out, and this place is my absolute favorite spot in town. I try to weasel it in to any of my visits home because not only is it a fun atmosphere, but the food is delicious. I typically go really simple and order a cheese quesadilla with rice and beans, but sometimes I splurge for a huge burrito or one of their famous margaritas (they’ve won “Best Margarita” in town for years now!)
When you aren’t indulging in some of Springfield’s finest foods, there is one place where I encourage any newbies, or even some returners, to go if they have an afternoon to spare: The Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library. Growing up in Springfield, you learn to love Abe, and this museum never gets old. There are so many interesting interactions, such as a hall dedicated to Mary Todd Lincoln’s dresses and a 4D theater (with shaking seats… terrifying) telling the story of the historical importance of Lincoln’s presidency. In the middle of the lobby there is a family of life-size wax figures of the Lincoln family to take pictures of so make sure you get your five minutes of fame! I could spend hours walking through the displays multiple times because although I have been to this place a handful of times, it never gets old. It’s also located in the middle of downtown Springfield so when you finish taking a walk down history lane, you can also explore some of the shops that line the streets of the hub of our city. About five minutes from the museum you can also pay respects and visit Lincoln’s tomb, which is definitely a surreal experience to say the least. They don’t encourage pictures to be taken around the area there, but I can assure you it’s a beautiful tribute to one of the greatest presidents of our nation.
Aside from the Lincoln and the food of Springfield, we don’t have a whole heck of a lot to offer visitors, which makes us quite the lovely weekend stop. Growing up here brought me many a weekend at the movies or a football game, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. To many it doesn’t seem like a very exciting town, but it’s got a lot of heart and I hope that you get the chance to visit someday to experience it for yourself!
Photo Credit: Rachel Caldwell, Becca Hanauer, and Claire Staten
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