As Midwest winter winds blow and temperatures drop, we dream about warm weather and sunshine. Turn those dreams into reality by starting your planning at the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show. The popular travel show returns to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, on February 8 and 9, 2020.
Exploring Five Abraham Lincoln Home Sites
Most Americans know that Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s sixteenth president, lived a modest childhood. He was born in a log cabin in Kentucky and moved with his family to other cabins in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois until striking out on his own when he was 22 years old. Over the past few years, we’ve visited five Lincoln home sites, all of which are designated state or national historic sites.
Lincoln Pops Up in the Most Unexpected Places
You expect to find Abraham Lincoln sites all over Illinois, and I have. Of course, they’re ubiquitous in Springfield, his home for 24 years, including the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the Lincoln Home.
And then there’s Vandalia, the state capital prior to Springfield and the oldest existing Illinois capitol building.
Decatur was his first Illinois home, and he lived in West Salem prior to Springfield.
As a lawyer, Lincoln rode all over the 8th Judicial Circuit, and there are commemorative sites throughout Central Illinois where Lincoln stayed, spoke and worked. The Museum of the Grand Prairie captures Lincoln Travels through the area.
I’ve searched out many of these places, which are often part of the Illinois Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.
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There are plenty of Lincoln sites outside of Illinois, too, like his birthplace and First Lincoln Memorial in Kentucky, his Indiana boyhood home, and of course, his place of honor on Mount Rushmore.
Occasionally, however, Lincoln pops up where you least expect him. We found him recently in Beloit, Wisconsin. Skip and I were browsing the shops in the downtown area when we wandered past this building and noticed the plaque commemorating Lincoln’s 1859 visit.
In what unexpected place have you found a Lincoln site? Let me know in the comments below.
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Weathering this Midwest Winter
“I’m tired of this winter.” I’ve heard it over and over again for the past month. And I agree. It seems that every day, at least here in the Chicago area, we’ve been getting either more snow, making roads dangerous to navigate, or single-digit to sub-zero temperatures, so we can’t go out and enjoy snow activities. Of course, the obvious remedy is to go somewhere warm, and if you can do that, great. But for many, a vacation to a warm climate is impractical or even impossible. Besides, a week later, you’ll be back home in the snow and cold again. So aside from hibernating and counting the days until spring, here are a couple of ways to counter the cabin fever that has hit the Midwest hard:
Go to indoor events and attractions. On the days that are cold but the roads okay to drive on, go to a local museum that you haven’t been to in a long time. (Call first to make sure they haven’t closed due to the cold.) Or go to one of the many travel, RV, boat, auto, or home shows going on in cities all over the Midwest. You’ll find links to information on lots of them on the Midwest Festivals & Fairs page.
Plan your summer travel. Now is the time to plan your summer getaways. Get them on the calendar before your calendar fills up with other obligations. If you’re planning to go to a popular seasonal destination, you should make your accommodation reservations as soon as possible, too, for the best selection. Need help in deciding where to go? Turn to the convention and visitors bureaus of the states you are thinking about. On the Internet, search “[state name] tourism” to find the state’s official tourism site, which will have listings of attractions, accommodations, dining options, and events. You can order free hard copy travel guides for the states or regions you are considering for your getaways, too. I personally like to peruse the hard copy guides from the cozy comfort of a sofa and then use the Internet to get further details on places that interest me. To get you started, I’ve included links below to order tourism guides for the Midwest states.
Just thinking about and planning your summer getaways will do wonders to counter the winter doldrums. Do you have other suggestions for cabin fever remedies? Answer in the Comments box below.
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Other attractions you may enjoy this winter:
Peoria Riverfront Museum: Interactive Exhibits, Planetarium and Giant Screen Theater
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Springfield IL: Museum Meets Disney
Frank Lloyd Wright Dana-Thomas House: 12,000 Square Feet of Phenomenal
Visit Jelly Belly, Pleasant Prairie WI: Take the Tour, Taste the Candy
Tour Stone Hill Winery, Hermann, MO: Most Historic and Awarded Winery in the State
Who Says You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?
2013 was a year of learning for me, a year full of firsts. Fairly new to travel writing, having only begun to write regularly for Examiner.com in the fall of 2012, and having started my own Midwest Wanderer blog in May 2013, I went through the trials and tribulations that new technologies bring, and I’m still learning. Heavens knows I’ve made more than my share of social media blunders and I’m certain there will be more. But most of my firsts have been wonderful experiences in the exciting world of travel and travel writing. Here are some of them:
Stepped out onto the Willis Tower Ledge, with just a piece of glass between my feet and the ground 1,353 feet below, facing my fear of heights
Zip lined, underground no less, at the Louisville Mega Cavern, another challenge to my phobia
Went horseback riding at the Natural Valley Ranch, actually my second time on horseback but the first time in a downpour
Stayed in a bed and breakfast, the Summers Riverview Mansion
Experienced the paranormal (just a whiff of perfume, but it was unmistakable) on the Alton Hauntings Walking Tour
Attended a polo match at the Oak Brook Polo Club
Parasailed on the Mississippi and Kayaked on the Rock River. You’ll find out more about both this spring.
Besides all the firsts, I’ve discovered museums, theaters, shops, markets, parks, restaurants, wineries and more in small towns throughout the Midwest, many towns that I didn’t even know existed. But best of all are the people I’ve met, from tourism bureau reps and fellow travel writers to shop owners, museum curators, other travelers, so many more I’ve crossed paths with, and especially you, my readers.
I’m looking forward to more new experiences in 2014 and to sharing them with you, to help you in your search of great places to wander.
Happy New Year and safe travels.
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The First Lincoln Memorial at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Hodgenvlle, Kentucky
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. may be better known, but it isn’t the first. Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the First Lincoln Memorial in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace, on Lincoln’s birthday in 1909. William Howard Taft dedicated the completed memorial in November 1911, a few years before construction of the Washington D.C. memorial began.