Visiting the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library With Kids

Posted in Lifestyle, Travel

My partner, Dave, is incredibly nerdy when it comes to all things history. Especially if it involves the Civil War. Even more so if it involves his favorite U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln.

So naturally, whenever we plan out our random road trips and adventures, I do a quick search to see if there’s anything that he would love to see along the way. (I’m nice like that.) When we decide to randomly drive from Atlanta to Milwaukee and back again in 4 days, the little town of Springfield, Illinois was on the route.

Springfield, for those of you who don’t know, is the hometown of Abraham Lincoln. I assumed that there had to be something set up for his childhood home—a historical marker or sign, at the very least—so we added it to our travel agenda. A quick Google search later and I realized that there wasn’t just a little ol’ historical marker…there was so. much. more.

Apparently a huge portion of the town is dedicated to honoring Lincoln (which makes total and complete sense). This includes a Presidential Museum and Library.

Lincoln museum and library in Springfield Illinois

First of all…I had no idea that there was an Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library. We’ve seen quite a few Presidential libraries in our travels: Reagan, Carter, LBJ, Nixon, etc. For some reason I assumed that the concept of presidential museums and libraries was something that only existed for more modern presidents. I was wrong.

So we made the decision to check it out. Obviously. But here’s the thing. Visiting a presidential library is one thing. Visiting one with young kids is something else entirely.

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Here are a few tips for visiting the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library with young kids:

 Abraham Lincoln presidential museum and library Springfield illinois

1. Park in the garage across the street from the Lincoln Museum and Library

Sign for Lincoln museum and library in Springfield Illinois

The official parking for the museum is located on 6th Street between Madison and Mason streets (you’ll see signs on the outside of the structure).

Price is reasonable ($0.75/half hour), and it saves you the headache of driving around and looking for street parking.


2. Photo it up with the stuff outside

Lincoln statue in Springfield Illinois outside of museum

There is a great little park/square right across the street from the Lincoln Museum. Don’t skip over it!

This is a great place to take some photos with a statue of Abraham Lincoln, or to safely get a good shot of your kids with the museum in the background.

If you’re not planning on going inside the museum or library itself, this makes a great free Lincoln-y Springfield photo op.


3. Use a stroller!!

Free stroller at Lincoln museum and library Springfield Illinois

Look, I’m all for wearing my kids, letting them walk on their own, etc. We do that the majority of the time with our little ones. But don’t be a hero, here. This museum is busy, and the inside is full of lots of stuff that kids will want to touch…

Lincoln presidential museum in illinois

and little roped-off areas that they’ll want to venture into…

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Abraham Lincoln library museum exhibit

If your kids are young…use a stroller.

If you don’t have one with you, you can borrow one for free in the guest services/coat check area. They even had a double stroller so both of our little ones could be secure while we explored. If you need to borrow a stroller, just ask one of the employees when you walk in.


4. Be aware of gift shop distractions

Abraham Lincoln museum gift shop doll

So the Lincoln Museum isn’t Disney-World-bad about forcing you to go through a kid themed gift shop when you exit the museum, which I so appreciate. The gift shop is separate from the museum and completely optional. (You can also visit the gift shop without buying admission to the museum or library, so if you want to just pop in and get a souvenir, you can!)

However, there are plenty of ridiculously overpriced items for the little ones to get distracted by (which is how we ended up leaving with the creepy-looking porcelain doll pictured above that my oldest daughter just HAD to have), so be aware when you venture in.


5. Skip going inside the library; just do the museum

Lincoln museum and library in Springfield Illinois

This is super important.

While most presidential libraries and museums are rolled into one building, that’s not the case with the Lincoln museum and library in Springfield. They are two separate buildings. And the only one that you’ll want to go into, dear traveler with children, is the Lincoln Museum.

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The Lincoln Presidential Library is just a place to do research. Do not spend time going here with your kids. There are no exhibits, and absolutely nothing for kids to do. I repeat: do not go inside the library with your young kids unless you want to get stressed out by going into a not-so-kid-friendly environment.

Go over to the library for one reason and one reason alone: to take pictures out front.

The outside of the museum looks like this:

Lincoln museum outside Springfield illinois

Way more crowded, closer to the street if you’re trying to get a picture in front of the signs, which, as a mom traveling with young, super active kids, made me very nervous.

Instead, snap your sign pictures here:

Abraham Lincoln presidential museum and library with kids

If you’ve read through my tips on how to take great travel photos with kids, you’ll know that the outside of the Lincoln Presidential Library makes a great spot to take photos with your little loves.

Giant wall. Ledge to sit/stand on. Way less crowded. Further from the street. Less chance of me having a heart attack when my kids start darting somewhere. Wins all around.



Overall, we really enjoyed our little trip to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. If you’re interested in exploring it for yourself, you can find more information on the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library’s official website.

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June 25, 2017
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  • Reply Danielle Speller

    Your husband sounds alot like my husband! Also you are very brave for taking such young kids to what i woukd call a serious museum. I think you definitely earned a wine or 2 after that! And I really love your blog nme too!!

    June 27, 2017 at 2:59 am
    • Reply Kaity

      History nerds are a lovable bunch! And yes…when we got to Wisconsin later that evening, the first thing I requested was to find a beer for our hotel room. 😉

      June 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm
  • Reply Morgan

    This is awesome. We are in Illinois and I have long wanted to visit. I am impressed you did it with such young kids! I’ll be referring back when we head that way! Thanks for the tips!

    June 27, 2017 at 3:10 am
    • Reply Kaity

      They actually did okay! The stroller made all the difference. And…surprisingly…there were a few things they actually enjoyed, like a Lincoln-period kitchen that my oldest was really into. Enjoy your visit when you make it out that way! 🙂

      June 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm
  • Reply Katie Bressler

    What great tips! This looks like it was a fun adventure with your family. My husband is a huge history geek so he would love it. THANK YOU for letting people know what not to do with the kids there…that is super helpful!

    June 27, 2017 at 3:40 am
    • Reply Kaity

      It’s the perfect place for those lovable history geeks, for sure. 😉

      June 27, 2017 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply ejnosillA/RedefiningHERstory

    This is a great trip idea for kids. I remembered when my children and I visited the museum and they had a ball. I want to go back before winter gets here!

    June 27, 2017 at 5:44 am
    • Reply Kaity

      Nice! We enjoyed our time there, too. Hope you get the chance to go back this summer or fall with your family. 🙂

      June 27, 2017 at 12:10 pm
  • Reply Natasha

    This is awesome!! We don’t have places like this in our town! Wish we had, something to do for the kids! We have to drive very far!!

    June 27, 2017 at 7:41 am
    • Reply Kaity

      It’s so nice when there’s stuff in town, but when there’s not…it’s a great excuse for a road trip. 😉

      June 27, 2017 at 12:12 pm
  • Reply Jasmine Hewitt

    great tips for visiting these places. i didn’t know there was a library either!

    June 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Crazy, right? 🙂

      June 27, 2017 at 6:09 pm
  • Reply Emmanuelle Paquet

    Thank you for the tips! I love doing roadtrips with the kids. We’ve been to Illinois but not to Springfield. Next time if we passed by I’ll know where to go and what to skip!!

    June 28, 2017 at 4:31 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      You’re so very welcome, Emmanuelle! Hope you and your kiddos have fun when you make it to Springfield for a visit. 🙂

      June 28, 2017 at 4:52 pm
  • Reply Niki @ Toot's Mom is Tired

    OMG I’m from Springfield! I’m glad you had a good time here! We’re very much into Lincoln here. lol

    June 28, 2017 at 5:32 pm
    • Reply Kaity

      Yeah, you guys are just a liiiiiiiittle bit into Lincoln there. But we loved it! 😉 Lincoln Museum + BBQ Mac Grilled Cheese at Cafe Moxo = my guy’s idea of heaven.

      June 28, 2017 at 7:57 pm
  • Reply Bailey

    Great post! I really enjoyed the content and you are totally rocking it taking to your young kids to the museum! I love taking my kids to the museum and I usually baby wear my toddler because strollers don’t contain him very well:(

    June 30, 2017 at 3:11 am
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