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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Springfield, Illinois

Mention Springfield, Illinois, and the first image that comes to mind may be our bearded 16th president. But this thriving city boasts much more than its history as the home of Abraham Lincoln. With an abundance of attractive features, it offers numerous possibilities for meeting planners.

“We have all the advantages of a smaller Midwestern city,” said Alicia Erickson, a marketing specialist with the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s easy to get here and easy to get around. And the people are really friendly.”

At the same time, she said, an impressive array of historical sites and other attractions make the city stand out.

“Visitors are often impressed with all the extra things there are to do,” Erickson said. “There are lots of opportunities for people to take in activities while they’re attending a meeting.”

The quality and variety of facilities is also a plus.

“We have quite a bit of meeting space,” Erickson said. “The city can accommodate groups of different sizes and handle anything from state conventions to national meetings.”

Springfield offers 4,000 hotel rooms and more than 347,000 square feet of meeting space. Visitors may choose from three separate convention areas: Historic Downtown Springfield, the Lake Area and the Illinois State Fairgrounds.


Prairie Capital Convention Center

Located in the historic downtown area near the state Capitol, the Prairie Capital Convention Center features 65,000 square feet of meeting space. The center recently underwent a $15 million renovation, with a number of upgrades and new amenities. It features 65,000 square feet of meeting space.

Among the meeting rooms is a 9,100-square-foot grand ballroom that can be partitioned into four smaller rooms. Other spaces accommodate anywhere from 50 to 500 attendees.

Adjacent hotels include the Hilton Springfield, with 360 guest rooms, and the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center, with 316 guest rooms. The Hilton brings to the table 21 meeting rooms of its own and 50,000 square feet of event space, making it the largest facility other than the convention center in the downtown area. Groups ranging from 10 to 1,500 attendees can be accommodated. The President Abraham Lincoln, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, also offers its own meeting opportunities, with 17 meeting rooms and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

A few blocks away, the State House Inn offers 125 sleeping rooms as well as a ballroom holding 250 guests, a 1,200-square-foot meeting room and several smaller rooms.

Nearby attractions include the Old State Capitol, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and other historic sites related to the 16th president.


Plentiful Activities

For meeting attendees, there is no shortage of attractions in the area.

Appealing to even the most casual history buff, the state-of-the-art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum features holographic and special effects theaters, interactive displays and multimedia programs, along with a reproduction of the White House as it looked in the 1860s.

Exhibits include an original handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address, the quill pen used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation and the evening gloves that were in President Lincoln’s pocket the night he was assassinated. A special historical play area is available for children, and the presidential library holds the world’s largest collection of Lincoln-related documents, books and artifacts.

With its location in the center of town, Adams Wildlife Sanctuary offers a great respite from conference activities. It includes a woodland area and restored prairie as a wildlife preserve and nature study area. A one-mile nature trail is open for hiking or just a casual walk.

The Illinois State Museum features life-size dioramas, interactive displays and special effects. Displays range from art to natural history, and the facility includes a children’s play museum, as well as an artisans shop offering crafts, souvenirs and art pieces.

Situated on the shores of a 4,234-acre lake, Lake Springfield Marina is a full-service facility. Visitors can rent personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, pontoons and paddleboats.

For a blast from the past, Route 66 Twin Drive-In offers single-screen, double-feature films. Visitors are invited to bring lawn chairs for an outdoor viewing experience, and snacks are available.

Focusing on the history of the Illinois National Guard, the Illinois State Military Museum holds military artifacts and other items, including a target board shot at by President Lincoln, the artificial leg of Mexican General Santa Anna and military uniforms, weapons and equipment. Famous Illinois soldiers such as Carl Sandburg, Robert McCormick and John A. Logan are also profiled.

At its location in Oakford, about 30 miles from Springfield, Hill Prairie Winery operates out of a 100-year-old barn. Wines are produced on-site from grapes grown on land that has been in the same family since the early 1800s. Special attractions include seasonal festivals, a mystery dinner theater and live music on Sundays.

Aviation and military buffs can take in the city’s Air Combat Museum, which features a collection of aviation memorabilia and historic aircraft.

Springfield’s Washington Park Botanical Garden boasts more than 1,800 species of eye-catching plants. Special attractions include a cactus garden, a peony collection, a perennial border, a rose garden, a shade garden and a Roman cultural garden.


Other Venues

Complementing the larger hotels are a number of small to midsize properties. The Northfield Inn, Suites and Conference Center offers eight meeting rooms with 13,000 square feet of event space; the Howard Johnson Inn and Suites has five meeting rooms and 6,500 square feet of function space; and the Hampton Inn East offers three meeting rooms totaling 1,500 square feet.

For a different kind of experience, several of Springfield’s historic sites and museums are available as off-site venues. In addition to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, Edwards Place and the Old State Capitol.

“It can be nice to have a reception or a picnic at one of these sites,” Erickson said. “You can add a touch of history that’s unique.”

Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, about 20 miles northwest of Springfield, is a reconstruction of the village where Lincoln spent his early adulthood. It includes a shelter and picnic tables for outdoor activities.

Edwards Place is a well-preserved 19th-century home. The spacious home was owned by a couple that enjoyed a close relationship with President Lincoln and sometimes entertained him there.

The Old State Capitol, which served as the seat of state government in the 19th century, features historical displays and accommodates special events. Along with a beautiful rotunda, the facility has several meeting rooms.


Springfield Lake Hotels

In the Springfield Lake area, not far from downtown, a number of hotels offer attractive meeting options. The most spacious is the Crowne Plaza, with 60,000 square feet of event space and 288 guest rooms. A 30,000-square-foot exhibit hall is large enough to meet a variety of needs.

Within walking distance are another 600 guest rooms, including the Hilton Garden Inn and the Holiday Inn Express. The Hilton property offers 117 guest rooms and some 4,200 square feet of meeting space. The Holiday Inn has 1,100 square feet of meeting space and 140 guest rooms.

Among the other hotels in the lake area are the Drury Inn Suites, with 2,400 square feet of meeting space and 118 guest rooms; the Hampton Inn, offering 1,500 square feet of meeting space and 124 rooms; and the Comfort Suites, with 790 square feet of meeting space and 91 guest rooms.


Illinois State Fairgrounds

The area’s third major convention area, the Illinois State Fairgrounds, is a 366-acre site with 29 major buildings, including a 266,000-square-foot outdoor arena and grandstand.

Along with its traditional role in hosting the widely known state fair, the fairgrounds also accommodates a variety of events such as agricultural conventions, auctions, auto club rallies, harness racing, horse and dog shows, dirt bike races and sporting events.

The historic Expo Building boasts more than 60,000 square feet of space, while the 39,000-square-foot Orr Building features large drive-in doors. Other facilities include a coliseum for more than 7,000 spectators and an auditorium and theater with seating for 470.


Springfield, Illinois


Central Illinois


Interstate 55, I-72. Lincoln Capital Airport

Major Meeting Spaces

Prairie Capital Convention Center, Hilton Springfield, President Abraham Lincoln (a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel), Illinois State Fairgrounds

Hotel Rooms


Offsite Venues

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s New Salem, the Old State Capitol

Contact Info

Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau