Springfield, Illinois at a Glance
Location: Central Illinois, 200 miles from Chicago and 100-plus from St. Louis
Access: Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport; interstates 55 and 72; historic Route 66; Amtrak
Major Meeting Spaces: Bank of Springfield Center, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Wyndham City Centre, President Abraham Lincoln Springfield: A DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton
Hotel Rooms: 4,000-plus
Off-Site Venues: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Erin’s Pavilion at Southwind
Visit Springfield Illinois
During the nearly 25 years he lived in Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln became a highly respected lawyer and politician who later, as the 16th president of the United States, led his country through the Civil War and saved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government and upgraded the national economy.
Throughout Springfield, opportunities abound to learn about this remarkable, self-taught man and why he’s so revered, with such attractions as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Lincoln Depot, where he boarded a train in 1861 to assume the presidency and to where his body was returned for burial after his assassination in 1865.
Among Springfield’s downtown historic gems are the Illinois State Capitol and the Old State Capitol. On the grounds of the latter, then-state Sen. Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president in 2007 and in 2008 declared Joe Biden his presidential running mate.
Pure Americana, Route 66 passes through the city. Noteworthy among numerous local sites on the famous thoroughfare is the Dana-Thomas House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1912 and considered the most luxurious, best preserved of his houses.
In 1840, brothers Jacob and John Bunn, with the advice of their legal counsel, Abe Lincoln, started a Springfield institution that thrives today. At Bunn Gourmet, guests can sip espresso, wine or craft beer while watching gourmet chocolate candies being made.
“It’s not every location you go to where you can incorporate a historical site of the caliber we have,” said Terry Truman, sales manager for Visit Springfield Illinois. “So a visit to Springfield is bound to be memorable.”
Nirvana for hungry, thirsty visitors, downtown is rife with hotels, restaurants, breweries and wineries. One local favorite, Obed and Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery, is famous for its Signature Horseshoe Sandwich: Texas toast topped with meat and cheese sauce, with french fries piled on top. Heated in winter, the restaurant’s year-round beer garden welcomes corporate gatherings.
“Along with stellar customer service, we have a longstanding hospitality community with folks who’ve been in the industry for many years,” Truman said. “We’re all interconnected. That allows a smooth transition for our customers from booking until they’re in the hotel. We never really let them go.”
Pure state-of-the-art, the Bank of Springfield Convention Center offers 65,000 square feet of meeting space in historic downtown, a short walk to attractions, restaurants and the Illinois State Capitol Complex. Gathering spots include a concert hall, terraces and 8,300-square-foot BOS Plaza for warmer-weather outdoor events.
The center is adjacent to the 369-room Wyndham Springfield City Centre and the 310-room President Abraham Lincoln Springfield: A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, which together add another 65,000 square feet where groups can meet.
With 70,626 square feet of meeting space, the Crowne Plaza Springfield – Convention Center has 288 rooms and a rooftop terrace for 200 standing.
Remarkably comprehensive, the 200,000-square-foot Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum explores Lincoln’s life and times through living-history performances and intriguing special-effects movies. A popular program, “Ghosts of the Library,” eerily connects past and present. Its 4,500-square-foot center rotunda, where lifelike figures of Lincoln and his family in a White House backdrop greet guests, can accommodate 500 for a reception.
Organized in 1900, Springfield’s 2,500-acre Park District boasts 35 parks and four golf courses and, at Southwind Park, the 5,000-square-foot Erin’s Pavilion, with a multitude of event spots.
A terrific way to immerse groups in Springfield’s abundant history is on Abe’s Hat Hunt. Teams collect stickers at eight of 12 historic sites, including the home of illustrious poet Vachel Lindsay; Lincoln sites, such as circa 1833 Edwards Place; and the Illinois State Capitol.
Once collected, stickers are put in half of a passport booklet for an “Abe-mazing” prize.
Another experience, the Living Legends Tour, features a map of Route 66. Teams gather stickers at its legendary businesses, such as the Cozy Dog Drive-In, a favorite local watering hole and 1949 home of the original corn dog.
New for Visit Springfield is its Legendary Meeting Incentives Program. Anytime this year, planners can book for 2022 and 2023 at a variety of properties that can accommodate small meetings and large conventions. One of the plan perks is the opportunity for a group to follow its passion with team building that assists a local charity.
“These days, groups want to be good stewards of the community they’re visiting,” said Truman. “Our CVB offers a list of organizations to help and follows the project with a presentation ceremony.”
Another option is adding a refresh-stretch break to a meeting for attendees’ well-being.