At the end of January and beginning of February, Andrew and I took two short trips. One to a site in the city that we hadn’t visited yet, and one to Arkansas so that he could play in one of the Preachers basketball games.
Our first weekend we visited Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. This site is run by the National Park Service. When we first arrived in St. Louis we had visited Grant’s Farm across the street, but to me, visiting Grant’s house was much more exciting. We went on a beautiful January Day…temperatures were in the 60’s or 70’s….and somehow were still the only ones on our tour that Sunday morning after church. I liked that once they brought you into the house you were given time to look around on your own. They also had a really well put together museum after you made it through the house.
The next weekend we took a trip down to Arkansas. We went so Andrew could play with the Preachers against Crowley Ridge College. I used it as an excuse to visit a new state. We only made it about 30 miles into Arkansas so there isn’t much to say but it was hillier and more tree covered than I anticipated. I’ll have to make a more extended visit in the future.
A few months ago my husband and I took a day trip to Jefferson City. It helped me cross off another state capital visit from my list. We drove there on a Friday night and toured around the city all morning on Saturday. We started our visit at the state capitol. It was a beautiful space and I loved how we could walk around freely on our own. They had two exhibits in wings of the building to learn about the history and economy of Missouri. In the main area we could tell they were getting ready for a large Pro-life ceremony so we toured quickly and got out of their way.
After checking out the inside of the building we walked down the block to check out the Governor’s mansion. It wasn’t open for touring that day, probably because at that point we stumbled into a March for Life parade and found fellow LCMS church members in the middle of it!
After we finally were able to walk on the street again after the March went by we walked outside the Capitol grounds and checked out the neat fountains and statues outside. Unfortunately even though it was a beautiful day, since it was still “winter” the fountain wasn’t running.
We ended our time in Jeff City by going to Lutz’s BBQ for lunch. One bite into the sandwich and my husband declared it the “best brisket he’s ever had!” I have to agree that all the food was quite delicious!
Our final part of the morning in Springfield was spent at the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Lincoln’s Tomb. The Presidential Museum was honestly one of the best museums I’ve been to in a very long time. It is split into two main sections: Lincoln’s early life and The Presidential Years. The Early life section focuses on Lincoln’s boyhood, his time as a shopkeeper, and his years as a lawyer. It discussed his romances and his family as well as his failed run for senator.
The Presidential Years section was what really impressed me. I didn’t take as many pictures because I was really just soaking in the atmosphere and exhibits that brought his time as president to life. You know you’ve found a good museum when you feel as though you should be quiet and respectful of his body lying in state and then remind yourself that’s it’s not real!
Entering the White House
That fateful night
After the museum we had a quick lunch back at Cracker Barrel and then headed up to the north side of town to visit Lincoln’s Tomb. Many people don’t realize it, but you can actually go inside the Tomb, not just see the outside. When you go inside it is filled with plaques containing famous quotes from Lincoln and you can see his tombstone as well as those of his immediate family. It was a very somber place to visit and I’m glad I could pay respect to one of America’s greatest leaders.
Following our visit to Lincoln’s home, we traveled a few blocks over to the Old Capitol Building. This is where Lincoln spent much of his working time prior to being elected President. This is also where his body lay in state after his assassination. It was surreal to be in the place where such a beloved President lay for all of the adoring citizens came to pay their respects. The room was entirely cleared out during this time aside from the portrait of George Washington which still stands to this day.
Just outside the Old Capitol Building is the location of Lincoln’s Law Offices. They are currently being remolded, but we peeked in the windows. They also have a plaque detailing his time spent there. They also have a few statues outside of the Lincoln family, which Andrew was more than happy to pose with.
Back before Thanksgiving, Andrew and I thought we would finally visit Springfield, IL. We live so close and yet never bother to go! It seemed like a perfect time. We’d be on our way up north to see my family for a week for Thanksgiving. We always pass through so we figured we would drive that far Friday night, see the sites on Saturday morning, and then keep going the rest of the way! Little did we know that things wouldn’t quite go as planned. An early winter storm had it in for us!
On Friday night we made it to Springfield as planned. We spent the night at the Baymont located just south of town. Very inexpensive but they had awesome service and a really nice pool area, and it was right next to Cracker Barrel! Yum! That night we hung out at the hotel and just enjoyed some time relaxing. We knew a winter storm was moving in, but it was forecast to last the morning, so we figured by the time we left town things would be clear.
I’ll split this post into 3 parts just because there’s so much to say about just the few things we saw! Part 1 will cover Lincoln’s Home. Part 2 The Old Capitol and Law Offices and Part 3 The Lincoln Presidential Museum and Lincoln’s Tomb.
We started our Saturday morning with a visit to Lincoln’s Home. This is the house that his family lived in while in Springfield. Many of the artifacts in the house belonged to the Lincoln family. Lincoln’s home is maintained by the National Parks System. They give guided tours every twenty minutes (if I remember correctly.)
When we arrived at the site shortly after it’s opening, it was somewhat rainy. By the time we entered the building where our tour would begin, we were experiencing our first snow of the season! Needless to say, we seemed to be the only people brave enough to take the tour in this weather. At least most of it was indoors. They do have a few city blocks made up of buildings that were nearly all around while Lincoln lived in the area. It was pretty neat! I only wish that the weather had been nicer so that I would have felt like exploring down the streets, but wet snow is not conducive to that!