With the spring semester wrapped up, many students are looking forward to heading home and enjoying summer. If you’re stuck in Springfield, however, don’t worry! Even if you’ve already been to every Lincoln site, there are still plenty of amazing options to keep you busy and entertained!
Old Capitol Farmers Market
Whether you’re looking for fresh produce or baked goods, the downtown Springfield farmers market has you covered. Open on both Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8-12:30, the farmers market truly has something for everyone. I go to the farmers market nearly every week (sometimes twice a week), and I cannot recommend it enough. In my opinion, nothing is better than getting fresh and affordable fruits, vegetables, and herbs while supporting local farmers and businesses. Even if you don’t buy anything, the atmosphere is incredibly fun and vibrant.
If the outdoors appeal to you and the farmers market isn’t enough, then you definitely need to check out the trails in Springfield. If you’re a fan of either hiking or biking, then the trails are for you. Lewis Memorial is perfect for either activity, so I would definitely recommend checking it out! Even if you aren’t super active or an outdoor enthusiast, the trails in and around Springfield offer an excellent escape to nature along with great scenery.
If you’re like me, and the library kept you sane this year with their many options to access books, then you definitely need to head to Prairie Archives. Also located downtown (across from the Old State Capitol historic site), Prairie Archives is a bookstore that is completely packed with every type of book imaginable. The first time I went, I was in shock as I kept walking through the store finding more rooms that were equally as full as the ones before. With well-priced used books inside, and an even more affordable highly-discounted section outside, Prairie Archives has options for everyone. If eBooks are more your style, though, Brookens has you covered with the cloudLibrary service!
Another amazing place downtown, Springfield’s public library is, once again, a must-visit spot for readers. Those living in Springfield can get a free library card, and, even if you aren’t a Springfield resident, UIS students are eligible for a reciprocal account. I grew up going to the Lincoln Library every other week, and now, even though I have more books than I’ll ever read in a summer, I still go regularly.
Illinois State Museum
This museum may seem simple when compared to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, but it is truly wonderful. As with the Lincoln Library, I’ve spent many hours here, so believe me when I tell you it’s definitely worth the visit. With some permanent exhibits, and some that are temporary, you’ll be able to learn something new every time you visit the ISM, even if you’ve been before. Admission is currently free, which makes this downtown spot (that’s close to the Capitol if you haven’t seen it yet) the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
If you’re looking for something good to eat, and don’t want to cook yourself with one of Brookens cookbooks, then you should definitely check out some local spots. My favorite restaurant in Springfield is Mario’s, so if you’re in the mood for pizza or Italian, you should definitely head there. For sandwiches, Head West is always an excellent option, but Monty’s is great too! ( Don’t worry – you’ll have amazing food at whichever sandwich shop you choose.) For breakfast, you have to go to Charlie Parker’s Diner for the best (and biggest) pancakes in town.
If you’ll be in Springfield this summer and are worried about how you’re going to stay busy, don’t panic! Springfield has plenty to offer all year long, so you’ll be able to enjoy the warm weather and your break from school without succumbing to boredom.