American Roadtrip | Illinois – The Home of Abraham Lincoln & Chicago

With a son named Lincoln it’s hard not to see his name everywhere while travelling through America, and we thought it would be silly not to learn more about the most famous ‘Lincoln’ while we were there. 

After a big night at the basketball in Oklahoma (A), we were up, fed and on the road early to travel 960 kms to Springfield, Illinois (B). This was one of our biggest travel days across America and ever since the first few really big days in the car when we first arrived in October 2018, the boys (and the parents) continued to be very good on these long days. We learnt very quickly that we need to mix up the activities throughout the day to keep us all sane and when I look back I can’t believe how many kilometers/miles we covered.Roadtrip Map 27

Standing in 3 States_America
Lincoln standing in three states at once – Oklahoma, Kansas & Missouri

Our one night stay at Super 8 by Wyndham Springfield East (See our Wyndham Properties review here) was pretty uneventful and the next morning we visited the Lincoln Home National Historic Site for some history lessons. This pedestrian only site includes the only home ever owned by Abraham Lincoln, and in total, the buildings included in the park make up four-and-a-half square blocks on 12 acres.Lincoln Home National Historic Site_Springfield_Illinois_AmericaWe paid a couple of dollars for parking at the visitors centre but otherwise it was all free. We collected our free tour tickets and waited a short time for the next ranger guided tour. We also picked up booklets filled with activities for the boys to complete as part of the Junior Ranger programme. Sadly we discovered this programme late into our touring of America, but once we had, the boys enjoyed completing the activities at each location and receiving their badges or stickers. A fantastic idea to get children more engaged.

The tour of the house was about 20 minutes long and then we were free to wander the surrounding streets and some of the other buildings. The boys completed their activities in a pretty cool location, amongst the streets that President Abraham Lincoln once walked.Lincoln Home National Historic Site_Springfield_Illinois_America_2Once finished we returned to the visitors centre, their books were checked and they took the Junior Ranger oath. This part they don’t always like because sometimes the staff make announcements to those in the centre about the newest rangers and they get a little embarrassed. But it’s very short lived and on this occasion some of the staff wanted to take a photo with Lincoln, because of his “great name” and so they could post it on their Facebook page, so he was very keen for that.

After these interesting few hours we stopped on the way out of town at Lincoln’s impressive tomb. You can enter the tomb and see the incredible tribute to this significant, historic figure. He is buried 10 feet down, with multiple layers of concrete (to stop the grave robbers) and it is beautifully decorated with plenty of Arkansas marble.Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site_Springfield_Illinois_AmericaFrom here we drove three hours to Chicago (C) for a four night stay at Super 8 by Wyndham Chicago Northlake O’Hare South. Weather wise we had an interesting and varied bag; two days of sunshine, a little wind and then a day of snow!! We saw that snow was forecast in the coming days but we assumed it might be something light and insignificant. It turned out to be quite a lot and even delayed and cancelled many flights. Thankfully we hadn’t got rid of our snow gear at this point but we did decide to make this an indoors day.

Our first full day in Chicago was a Friday and the boys had been asking for a while to go to a zoo. We all know that zoos can be hit and miss sometimes and not always worth the ticket price, but when we saw that Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo was free we decided to give it a go. The name obviously got a big tick and so did the zoo. Besides a cool wind that made us go back to the car for warmer jackets and being separated from Logan and the boys for well over an hour, we had a very enjoyable spent another afternoon walking Chicago’s riverwalk and although it was only about 10°C, there was beautiful sunshine. Some areas were under construction but there was still a vast length of nice wide paved areas perfect for strolling/scooting along and viewing the city’s beautiful mix of buildings.Chicago_Illinois_AmericaWe had a fantastic few days in Chicago and loved the vibe of the city.Chicago_Illinois_America_1And of course we couldn’t come to Chicago without trying some of their famous, deep dish pizza. We did some research and found a place near us with good reviews, so we headed along to one of the Giordano’s Pizza locations and weren’t disappointed. We tried not to order too much but all the fillings sounded delicious. As you might imagine, one piece is a meal in itself, so we had plenty to take with us for dinner (and breakfast).Giordano's Pizza_Chicago_Illinois_America

Average Daily Spend for 5 nights – $196.11 NZD ($91.39 under budget per day)

– Paula

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