The museum, which opened in 2005, consistently ranks as one of the most visited of state-run presidential museums, and it should.
That's when I met the friendly couple from Chicago, anthropology professor William Irons and his wife, Margie Rogaster. Irons told me, with sparkling eyes and some ironic glee, that he is a distant relative of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Lincoln. It was just another vivid encounter with Lincoln lore in Springfield.
IF YOU GO:
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12; discounts for children, seniors, students and military (1-217-558-8934; http://www.alplm.org ).
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: Open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except some holidays. Admission is free (1-217-492-4241; http://www.nps.gov/liho ).
Old State Capitol: Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. Admission is free (1-217-785-9363).
Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices: Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. Admission is free (1-217-785-9363).
Lincoln Tomb: In Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is open until sundown. Hours for interior rooms, including a rotunda and burial chamber, are seasonal; check by calling 1-217-782-2717.
New Salem State Historic Site: About 20 miles northwest of Springfield. Hours are seasonal (1-217-632-4000; http://www.lincolnsnewsalem.com ).
I stayed at the quite nice President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, within walking distance of most Lincoln sites, and paid about $110 for a weeknight (1-866-788-1860; http://www.presidentabrahamlincolnhotel.com ).
Don't miss the chocolate croissants and yummy lunch offerings at Incredibly Delicious, near the Lincoln home (( http://www.incrediblydelicious.com; 1-217-528-8548).
The most memorable meal I had was an only-in-Springfield sandwich. A "horseshoe" consists of a slab of meat (I went with hamburger) on Texas toast, topped with fries and a special creamy cheese sauce. I opted for the smaller "ponyshoe," and still ate less than a half. The Springfield specialty is served in many places. I had my delicious version at D'Arcy's Pint (1-217-492-8800; http://www.darcyspintonline.com ).
More travel information at http://www.visit-springfieldillinois.com.