A heritage tourism visit to Illinois and the Land of Lincoln is a fairly easy trip from most USA locations… a nice drive, or a flight into Chicago and a short drive south to the state capital of Springfield. In my recent “Illinois Heritage Tourism” website, I focused on the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area (NHA) because it has so many fine sites and locations to visit that cover the spectrum of historical, cultural and natural activities available in that area. There are more than enough things to see and in which to participate without even venturing out into the other many fascinating Illinois venues.
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site is at the heart of the NHA along with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, of course. I have visited the former, but not the latter, yet. I hope you get there before I do. There is so much to learn there about the man and his times as well as the many events of the Civil War – we are now in the middle of the Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) celebration, of course.
Central Illinois, of course, was first explored by Europeans with the arrival of French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673. In 1778, George Rogers Clark claimed Illinois for Virginia. Illinois became a state in 1818. Three U. S. presidents have been elected while living in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barak Obama. Also, Ronald Reagan was the only U. S. President born and raised in Illinois.
Peoria to the northwest and Campaign-Urbana to the east, home of the University of Illinois, are other central Illinois cities you may want to visit, depending on your time frame. Each are within easy driving distances. And, if you like rural landscapes, you can hardly beat the many bucolic scenes available to you as you drive around through central Illinois on the way to your next destination.