Amid a pandemic, many of us have needed to embrace the idea of a ‘staycation’ this summer. While I’ve always appreciated where I live, I am seeing my small, midwest town through a new lens — that of a tourist. Wherever you live, I challenge you to do the same! Here are some of the charming activities and places to visit in Lincoln, Illinois.
I am leading with this event, which is a long-standing tradition in our town, and is this weekend August 28 and 29, 2020! Pilots travel from around the country for this event, which I’ll also mention is a perfect one to enjoy while social distancing. There are multiple sites across town from which hot air balloons will launch, and Saturday evening there will be a ‘Balloon Glow’ at posted locations. You can learn more here.
You can’t come to Lincoln without seeing the giant covered wagon featuring Honest Abe reading a book. Is it historically accurate? Nope, but who cares! It’s a fun place to stop and take a photo along Route 66 in the only town ever named for Lincoln while he was still alive. Fun Fact: In 1853, before Abraham Lincoln became our 16th president, he christened this community by slicing open a watermelon and pouring its juice onto the ground.
From April through September on the Logan County Fairgrounds features a producer-only indoor market on Saturdays from 8am to noon. The market features fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, meat, eggs, flowers and more, all from local farmers. It’s where you’ll find me most Saturday mornings these months!
Before it was renamed Lincoln, our town was called Postville and was the county seat where Abraham Lincoln practiced law in the 8th Judicial Court Circuit. This building is a replica of the original Postville Courthouse because in 1929, after having been decommissioned in 1848 and then falling into a state of disrepair over the following decades, Henry Ford purchased it. He moved the entire building to his home in Dearborn, Michigan to preserve this artifact of our 16th President. This replica is a State Historic Site and was built in 1953. It is open to the public for tours and is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
Our historic downtown district surrounds our beautiful courthouse, built in 1854 and pictured above. There are many wonderful shops to visit and places to visit. Grab coffee and delicious baked goods at Guest House, pick up some candy and caramelcorn at Abe’s Caramelcorn Shoppe, do some antique shopping at The Copper Penny, order a pizza from my favorite pizza shop, Sorrento’s, or enjoy outdoor dining at a Lincoln Italian dining institution, Guzzardo’s. We also have a gorgeous, restored movie theater which is currently closed, but we look forward to its return!
This craft beer and wine bar has great atmosphere and is located on our square with craft beers on draft and wines on tap. They also have many varieties of each to carry out. They host ‘Summer Sundays’ where you can enjoy live music the patio, as well as a visiting food truck.
Its name tips its cap to Honest Abe and has the best ice cream and my favorite Dole Whip in Central Illinois. Grab a scoop to enjoy on their patio, or take home a pint!
Our Lincoln Public Library is one of around 1,600 Carnegie libraries in America. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Andrew Carnegie provided grant funding across America and to other English-speaking nations for the purpose of creating free libraries to encourage an educated society. Many of these libraries are built in a grand architectural style featuring columns, stonework and stained glass. Lincoln received its Carnegie grant in 1901 and is a beautiful gem in our community.
Fun for all ages, our Lincoln Christian University campus features a free, simple disc golf course that’s open to the public and great for beginners.
Saving the best for last, on the campus of Lincoln College is a world-class museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Heritage Museum is a destination home not only to some incredible Lincoln artifacts, but is a place whose mission is the interpretation of the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln and the world in which he lived, with an emphasis on his life in Illinois. This site is a must-visit for all.