HOTSPOT SPRINGFIELD, ILL.

The Baltimore Sun

This week, we celebrate the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the country's 16th president. Though Lincoln was born Feb. 12 in Kentucky and raised in Indiana, Illinois was where he left his mark as a state legislator and lawyer, and where he met his wife, Mary Todd. Springfield, Ill., about 200 miles southeast of Chicago, calls itself Lincoln's hometown. Visitors to the Illinois capital can find his law office and his house among historic sites. Here are five things to do in Springfield:

1

Learn about Lincoln : The $90 million Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which opened in 2005, follows Lincoln's life from birth to death. Visitors are greeted by life-size figures of Lincoln and his family - and also his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Exhibits include a display of the log cabin where Lincoln was born and a "Ghosts in the Library" theater presentation that includes holograms.

2

Be history's guest : A four-block historic area includes the Lincoln family home of 17 years. The Quaker-style house is open for free tours daily, but tickets are required.

3

Pay your respects : Lincoln's tomb is at Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery, a 365-acre site that is the largest cemetery in Illinois.

The former president is buried alongside members of his family, including his wife and all but one of his children.

4

Get political : The state capital may be more topical today because of the scandal involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but the Old State Capitol is where Lincoln launched his bid for the presidency in 1860 and where he served as a legislator. It's also where the U.S. Postal Service will unveil this week a series of Lincoln Bicentennial stamps.

5

Eat right : This diner isn't even half as old as Lincoln, but what Maid-Rite lacks in years, it makes up for in yum. The Midwest chain of diners and sandwich shops is one of the oldest restaurant franchises in the United States. Their specialty is a loose-meat sandwich of ground beef served on a warm bun.

More information: visit-springfieldillinois.com, lincolnbicentennial.gov

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