The countdown is on to the most important day in February — no, not Valentine’s Day. For me, the best day of the month is February 12, which is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Keep your candy hearts and your romantic dinners; give me a Lincoln biography and a top hat. To people in the U.S. who would abandon the penny, I say that you better not do so without putting Lincoln on another coin first. Remember Obama Girl, who sang of her love for Barack Obama in a viral video hit? Well, just think of me as Lincoln Girl.
This year, the big man’s birthday falls on a Friday, right before what is, for many people, a three-day weekend. That means it’s the perfect time to take a Lincoln road trip. Now, some might say that the perfect time for a Lincoln road trip was last year, when these sites were kicking off the bicentennial celebration of Abe’s birth, but I didn’t have a blog last year. So I say the perfect time is now, and I shall now present some of the most essential sites for an Abe enthusiast.
To see Abe’s famed log cabin beginnings, you’ll want to point your car toward Kentucky. For me, there are four can’t-miss sites:
- The Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville (to be fair, the cabin is just a replica)
- Lincoln’s boyhood home, the Knob Creek farm, just down the road from the birthplace
- The Lincoln Museum in Hodgenville (this place features life-size DIORAMAS, people. It’s really awesome)
- The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington
Let me pause here for a Mary Todd Lincoln anecdote. My parents took me to this house when I was a young whippersnapper. I’d read lots of Lincoln biographies, so as the tour started, I asked my tour guide, “Did you hear that Abraham Lincoln had a joke that one “D” was good enough for God, but the Todds were so high and mighty that they needed two?” The docent gave me a look of death for daring to upstage her on the tour. This is why kids don’t like learning: mean tour guides.
Alright, enough about my childhood traumas; let’s resume the tour. From Kentucky, you could head north through Indiana and hit the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial. But the real treasure trove of sites is in Illinois, which is, of course, the Land of Lincoln. LookingforLincoln.com offers numerous driving tours and itineraries for those enamored with our sixteenth president, but if you’re short on time, head to Springfield and stop here:
- The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a place made by people who realized that holograms hadn’t been underutilized in portraying the history of a great, great man.
- The Lincoln Home
- The Lincoln Pew
- Lincoln’s Tomb
If you’re on the eastern seaboard, you might enjoy a route that takes you from the fields of Gettysburg to Washington, D.C., where you can visit the amazing Lincoln Memorial. At Ford’s Theatre, you can contemplate the end of Lincoln’s life, which came 56 years after he was born. But no matter where you are, Lincoln is probably there too. The man is so ubiquitous that no one can be that far from a likeness of Lincoln. The big one, of course, is South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore, but statues of Lincoln can also be spotted in Oregon’s Lincoln City (Lincoln rides a horse and reads at the same time), New York City’s Union Square Park (Lincoln stands; looks gallant), and even in Richmond, VA, the heart of the Confederacy (he talks to his son Tad). There’s not enough room for me to list all the landmarks, so you tell me — what are your favorite Lincoln sites?