When your mother-in-law asks to take you and the kids on an overnight field trip to your state capitol? Do it. It will be so much fun that your kids will be begging to return.
We went to Springfield, IL on Monday/Tuesday of this week to visit a few of the many historical attractions they have to offer. I left on Tuesday afternoon feeling as though we had barely touched the tip of what they have to available!
The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was amazing. Dedicated to Lincoln's life and trying to debunk some of the hype that can build around someone who is a martyr, they did a fabulous job of presenting Abraham Lincoln as a human being instead of the famed 16th president who could do no wrong. Their "movies" were completely unique and unexpected. Both have a 4D quality to them without the funny glasses and both were compiled so that the kids understood and absorbed what was being presented but the adults were still intrigued and interested. AWESOME. We also spent a long portion of time in the children's hands on area. All of the kids liked the wooden toys that we had seen in Lincoln's sons' rooms. Corinne cooked at a pioneer's hearth and played dress-up in their period clothing. Evan and I mastered the hoop and stick (it's not as easy as it appears!), and I got caught on film playing with the Lincoln dollhouse. (The furniture was totally in the wrong spots. It HAD to be rearranged!!) It's a definite must-see if you go to Springfield!
We also visited the Lincoln Home and neighborhood from 1860. The visitor center there had another short film that actually covered different material about the Lincolns, so I highly suggest watching the film before heading onto your free tour. We all enjoyed this attraction as well. It's so cool to know that the enormous trees on Lincoln's street were probably just straggly little things when Mr. Lincoln walked beside them... Living in the Prairie State, we don't have tons and tons of historical buildings or sites past 100 years or so. And much of what we have that is "old" isn't built of brick and stone so any tangible history is fewer and farther between out here. Any building over 50 or 60 years old makes me pause but a couple of hundred years just makes me wonder and wonder...
The Old State Capitol and New State Capitol didn't SOUND interesting to me... Until we went there. I recommend doing both buildings and starting with the Old Capitol. You'll walk into the most charming and stately building! The volunteers were thrilled to have us (school's in session and they were quite empty everywhere we went!) and helped us to understand so much about what happened in that building. To know that I have walked upon the floorboards and staircases that so many great politicians once frequented sends chills up my back (I would have an absolute overload if I were to visit the East Coast of the US. And to walk in Boston? Heart attack. I'm a history weirdo). After visiting the Old Capitol, THEN visit the New Capitol, and prepare to be amazed at the comparison. The splendor of the New in comparison to the sedate beauty of the Old is, well, phenomenal. You simply have to see it to believe it.
The kids naturally loved the museums and such. Almost as much as they loved the pizza place and swimming at the hotel.
My MIL is the best, is she not?
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