Springfield is a great family destination—affordable, welcoming and jam packed with things to see and do that appeal to all ages and accommodate all abilities. Kids love the Lincoln story and openly enjoy the Lincoln Home and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum with its colorful exhibits, lifelike figures, and amazing holographs. And it's hard to beat a stroll through the rustic village of New Salem where costumed guides have fascinating stories to tell that transport you back to Lincoln's early years as a log splitter, shopkeeper and surveyor.
The Illinois State Museum has wonderful natural history exhibits, with lots of opportunity for hands-on learning, while the museum’s exhibitions of fine, decorative, and folk arts please adults as well. The city has several amusement parks including the indoor Kicks Family Entertainment Center and Knight's Action Park/Caribbean Water Adventure, the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day.
The Springfield Park District is dedicated to making its facilities inclusive and even offers adaptive carts at its four golf courses. Many of the city parks have accessible playground equipment and all city pools, indoor and outdoor, have lifts. Opening in 2010 is Southwind Park, a universally accessible, year-round facility for children of all abilities that will offer a wide range of educational and recreational activities. Southwind will eventually house the city’s first children’s museum as well.
Lake Springfield, which borders the city on the south and east, offers a whole other world of outdoor recreation, from boating, fishing and picnicking to hiking and nature discovery. Located here are 8 city-owned parks and a public golf course as well as the Henson Robinson Zoo, Springfield Municipal Opera, Lincoln Memorial Gardens and the Lake Springfield Marina.
Route 66, which runs right through Springfield, draws kids of all ages to such nostalgic attractions as Shea’s Gas Station Museum, the Cozy Dog Drive In—“The Home of the Famous Dog on the Stick”—and the Route 66 Twin Drive In. In September a free downtown event, the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival& Car Show, features a parade of vintage cars and lots of food and entertainment.
Of course, the biggest family event in Springfield is the Illinois State Fair, held each August and offering a seemingly endless number of agricultural-based exhibits and demonstrations, concerts, and carnival rides. Other seasonal events at the Fairgrounds include the Midwest Charity Horse Show and the Springfield Mile Motorcycle Races.
Springfield’s affordability helps make it a great family destination. Some of the city’s most accessible lodgings, like the Microtel Inn, are also the least expensive. When choosing a hotel, Easy Access Springfield can help identify not only those that meet your family's access needs, but also have accessible pools and complimentary breakfasts. Springfield also has good restaurants in every price range. For a list of those where kids eat free, see the Springfield Moms website.
It also helps that many of the historic sites are either free or ask only a modest donation. Even the paid attractions mostly charge small town prices,so outdoor theatre at The Muni or New Salem's Theatre in the Park, or a night of baseball with the Springfield Sliders, won't break the bank. The hardest part—not being able to enjoy all that Springfield has to offer in just one visit!