Beautiful, historically rich and welcoming, Springfield, the capital city of Illinois (located 200 miles outside of Chicago) offers Midwest hospitality in addition to state-of-the-art meeting facilities and amenities. Meeting planners choose this city for its affordability, range of Springfield event venues and accessibility. Visitors can reach Springfield via its Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, located just three miles outside of the downtown district. Once in downtown, visitors can navigate the city and its many attractions via the Springfield Mass Transit District bus system, which provides direct access to the city's historical attractions.
Central to American history, Springfield is known as "the land of Lincoln" as it served as the home of Abraham Lincoln until he left for the White House in 1861. Springfield celebrates this heritage at such sites as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, New Salem and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. In fact, more than one million people visit Springfield's Lincoln sites each year.
Getting down to business, Springfield hosts thousands of meetings, events and gatherings every year. Up to 9,000 meeting attendees may convene at Springfield's 62,000-square-foot Prairie Capital Convention Center, which features 40,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, 16 soundproof meeting rooms and parking for more than 2,000 cars. The convention center is located adjacent to the 316-room President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center, which offers an additional 13,000 square feet of meeting space, and across the street from the 360-room, 30-story Hilton Springfield, which offers 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
Meeting groups can also gather at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, located just outside of downtown Springfield. The 366-acre site features 29 indoor buildings, a one-mile oval dirt track, barns and agricultural buildings, grandstands and more than 250 campsites. Event facilities include the two-level Exhibition Building, which has a 34,800-square-foot main floor, 25,744-square-foot mezzanine and 2,720-square-foot gallery, featuring iron framing, brick walls and segmented arched windows. Other fairgrounds meeting spaces include the 39,000-square-foot Orr Building, which features a central fountain and large windows, as well as the 6,400-square-foot Artisans Building, complete with beautiful restored floors.
For smaller group functions and events, look no further than Springfield's Land of Lincoln attractions. The 215,000-square-foot Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library is among the most visited of all the presidential libraries, as well as one of Springfield's best special event locations. The museum documents the life of Lincoln and the course of the Civil War in life-size settings and exhibits and houses such artifacts as White House china and Lincoln's stovepipe hat. Groups can hold private events in such spaces as the museum's 4,500-square-foot plaza rotunda, which accommodates up to 500 guests and features a full-scale recreation of Lincoln's boyhood cabin and replica of the White House.
Groups may also gather at the 700-acre New Salem historic site, a reconstruction of the village where Lincoln spent his early adulthood. Groups can tour the site's log houses, mills, tavern and other historic structures, as well as rent shelters along the Sangaman River or convene at New Salem's 200-person amphitheater.
A wonderful location for family fun, recreation, education and relaxation, Springfield is known for its historical significance, friendly Midwest hospitality and number of attractions. The city offers a wonderful location, as it's just 200 miles southwest of Chicago and 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.
Much of Springfield's present is built upon its past. Springfield became the Illinois capital in 1837 and served as Lincoln's home until he left for Washington DC in 1861. Many of the city's attractions focus on the life and times of Lincoln, but Springfield's appeal soars far beyond the historical. For one, the city is home to White Oaks Mall, the largest indoor shopping facility in central Illinois. Today, Springfield is a leader in health care and the medical industry and a leader in tourism, as it welcomes more than one million visitors every year.
World-class Springfield attractions include the beautiful Dana-Thomas House, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece completed in 1904. A shining example of architectural excellence, the Dana-Thomas House features original Wright art glass and furniture throughout the 12,000-square-foot home's 35 rooms, three main levels and 16 varying levels. For a different residential take, visitors may also tour the beautiful Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which served as the only home that Lincoln owned. The Lincoln home is nestled within a historic four-block neighborhood that features 12 historic homes and several Lincoln-oriented exhibits, as well as an 1860s-style heirloom garden.
Other Springfield attractions include the serene Washington Park Botanical Garden. Home to more than 1,200 species of plants, the garden features annual and perennial flower beds, a rose garden and domed conservatory with African, Asian and South American tropical foliage. For another taste of the exotic, Springfield visitors visit the Henson Robinson Zoo, which features naturalistic exhibits and is home to more than 300 animals and 90 species of animals native to Australia, Africa, Asia, North America and South America.
Many of Springfield's fine restaurants specialize in global cuisine, including Ross Isaac, which specializes in contemporary American fare with exotic influences. Entrees range from Jamaican paella to diver scallops fresh from the shell, all served in a sleek, modern space with romantic pendant lighting and beautiful wide plank hardwood floors. Another Springfield dining staple, Caitie Girl's serves upscale comfort food in an eclectic atmosphere. Augie's Front Burner supports local businesses and farmers within its extensive, adventurous menu, while the stately Maldaner's specializes in contemporary American fare infused with Mediterranean flavors. Finally, Springfield's classic Cozy Dog Drive In is a Route 66 favorite, specializing in its own corn dog-inspired hot dog made with a delicious secret batter.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Springfield enjoys a four-season climate characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The city's average year-long high is 62°F and average low is 43°F. Springfield's warmest month is July, with an average high of 86°F and average low of 66°F, while January is its coldest month, with an average high of 33°F and average low of 17°F. The city experiences an average 35 inches of rainfall per year, with the most falling from May through July, and an average of 17 inches of snow, with the most falling in January and February. Springfield is prone to a strong tornado season during the spring and summer, with peak tornado season in May. The best time to visit Springfield is in the fall, which brings mild temperatures and low precipitation.
Prairie Capital Convention Center
The 62,000-square-foot Prairie Capital Convention Center features 40,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, 16 soundproof meeting rooms, parking for more than 2,000 cars within a one-block radius and an attendance capacity of 9,000 people. The convention center is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Springfield, adjacent to the 316-room President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center, which offers an additional 13,000 square feet of meeting space and across the street from the 360-room, 30-story-tall Hilton Springfield, which offers an additional 50,000 square feet of meeting space. The Prairie Capital Convention Center features full catering, audio visual and event planning services, as well as wireless Internet access.
Illinois State Fairgrounds
Located just outside of downtown Springfield, the Illinois State Fairgrounds sits on a 366-acre site with 29 indoor buildings, one-mile oval dirt track, grandstands, barns and agricultural buildings and more than 250 campsites. The fairgrounds' event facilities include the two-level Exhibition Building, which features a 34,800-square-foot main floor, 25,755-square-foot mezzanine and 2,720-square-foot gallery, featuring iron framing, brick walls and segmented arched windows. Groups may also hold meetings at the 39,000-square-foot Orr Building, which features a central fountain and large windows, as well as the 6,400-square-foot Artisans Building, complete with beautiful restored hardwood floors.
Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI)
Approximate taxi fare: $10 USD
Located just three miles northwest of downtown Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport services nonstop flights to Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Myrtle Beach and Fort Myers/Punta Gorda. The single-terminal airport features such amenities as free parking, free wireless Internet, gift shop and on-site restaurant.
Airline carriers serving Springfield Airport
The Springfield Mass Transit District services 17 fixed bus routes throughout Springfield, providing access to tourist attractions, historical sites, schools, shopping and the central business district. Buses run Monday through Saturday from 6 AM to 6 PM. Bus fares are $1 each way with free transfers. Passengers may purchase a 20-ride ticket for $15. Children under age five ride free.
The Springfield Amtrak station is located at 100 North Third Street. The station services the Texas Eagle route and Illinois Services route. The Texas Eagle offers daily service between Chicago and San Antonio with connecting service to Los Angeles three times per week, while the Illinois Services route provides daily access to 28 downstate cities, including Quincy, St. Louis and Carbondale.
The Springfield Greyhound station waiting area is located at 2351 South Dirksen Parkway.
Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport features counters for rental car companies Avis, Budget, Hertz and National. Rental car counters are located in the baggage claim area.
Visitors to Springfield can access several taxi companies at the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. Cab fare from the airport to downtown Springfield is approximately $10. Visitors may also hail taxis at hotel stands or throughout downtown Springfield.
Photo Credit: Springfield CVB
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