While some children enjoy traveling and visiting science museums, history is something many children can appreciate and enjoy when traveling. Living history and witnessing historical Chicago area attractions can really hit home to many traveling families.
There have been 43 presidents to serve the United States of America, and of those 43, 4 have strong ties to the state of Illinois. A great way to help kids connect with history is through travel, and traveling through the state of Illinois you have a lot of opportunities to make connections to our presidents. A presidential tour across Illinois with kids can be done in segments or all in one trip, its a big state, because each of the places of presidential importance are located in a different region of Illinois.
Discover the Presidents of the United States when you visit each of these historic, preserved or current neighborhoods of our past, and current, Presidents.
Lincoln’s Springfield Home
Lincoln gave Illinois its nickname, the Land of Lincoln, because it was where he established himself and his political career. Before coming to Springfield, Lincoln lived in several cities, but it was here where he built a home for himself and his family before heading off to Washington. Springfield, Illinois is filled with Lincoln history, but the Lincoln Home is a National Historic Site and a must see when in town.
The house has been restored as closely as possible to it’s original appearance and because it was passed on to the state by Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, it has almost always been a museum. Tours are given daily and in addition to the Lincoln Home, the surrounding neighborhood has been preserved and is also a living history area that families can explore.
Abraham Lincoln is the only president buried in the state of Illinois, and his tomb is also in state capital of Springfield so if you are visiting the home of Lincoln it makes a great stop. Deemed a state historic site, Lincoln’s Tomb is an impressive monument to the man, which was dedicated in 1874. From the outside guests are impressed by a huge 117 foot tall obelisk atop a multilevel structure that is actually the final resting place for most of the Lincoln family. A war memorial, rotunda and burial chamber are all within the monument and kids can learn about the different aspects of Lincoln’s role as our president just by visiting his tomb. Before leaving it is customary to rub the nose of the giant Lincoln bust, which has been rubbed to reveal a different color over time.
Ulysses S. Grant Home
Managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Grant home in Galena is tucked into the quaint neighborhood. Grant was actually given the home on his return from the Civil War, in which he served as a general, and so only lived here for a few years between service and his presidency. Still, the Grant’s were from Galena and viewed as a war hero so the home was turned into a museum and his memory is kept alive there. Most of the furniture in the museum did belong to Grant and the family, so even though some restoration has been done over the years, a lot of the interior is just the same.
Visits to the home include free tours given daily, and Galena is one of those towns that begs you to stay for the weekend, where you can visit other historical homes and enjoy the small town life of main street.
Ronald Reagan’s Boyhood Home
President Ronald Reagan was born in and grew up in Dixon, Illinois, where his boyhood home is now a National Historic Place. Open from April 1st through October, daily tours of the home are given to guest with a $5 admission fee. President Reagan grew up in the Dixon home during the 1920’s and so much of the tour gives kids an idea of what Reagan was like as a child. Kids can see the bedroom that the president shared with his brother, check out the vegetable garden stroll through the Reagan Memorial Park.
President Obama’s Chicago Neighborhood
President Obama and his family still have a home that they live in, which is located in the Kenwood neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago. While tourists are not able to visit and tour the home, there is a lot in the neighborhood that our President and his family have ties to. Take a self-guided walking tour through Kenwood and you can see where President Obama lived before being married, his favorite places to dine and bookshops he frequents.
Is educational travel something you like to add to your travel itinerary? Would you visit an attraction like this if you were planning an upcoming visit to the Chicago area?