Abe slept, lived, loved and laughed here. By Dave Parfitt
With Hollywood buzzing about Spielbergâs tremendous biopic of âLincolnâ (do go see it, and bring the kids), the Oscars are a terrific kick-off for a bonanza year for Abe-philes. With 2013 marking the 150th anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation, Battle of Gettysburg, and Gettysburg Address, this is the perfect year to celebrate our 16th President by visiting the places that shaped him.
Want your kids to know Lincoln better? These 10 places let you walk in Honest Abeâs footsteps.
Hodgenville, Kentucky: Farmland, log cabins, and split-rail fences at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Central Kentucky evoke the humble beginnings of Lincoln, whose earliest memories were of the one-room log cabin on the Knob Creek Farm. You can explore the fields and trails where Lincoln played and did chores as a boy until age 8, and learn how Lincoln earned the nickname âKentucky Rail Splitter.â Donât miss: Kids can earn a free Junior Ranger badge for completing an activity booklet full of Lincoln-related facts and trivia.
Lincoln City, Indiana: âHere I grew up,â said Lincoln about the family homestead in Southern Indiana where he spent his teen and young adult years. At the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, you can explore the Lincoln Living Historical Farm, a working pioneer homestead with a log cabin, outbuildings, livestock and field crops. Rangers dressed in 1820s-era clothing demonstrate activities typical during Lincolnâs boyhood. The noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead designed the lovely, tree-lined walkway to the grave of Abeâs mother, Nancy. Donât miss: Kids can earn a free Junior Ranger badge for watching a 15-minute video on Abeâs life in Indiana and completing an activities booklet.
Springfield, Illinois: âSpringfield is my home, and there, more than elsewhere, are my lifelong friends,â said Lincoln in 1863. Fittingly, it is here that he was laid to rest. A beautiful monument marks Lincolnâs tomb, which is also the final resting place of his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of his four sons. At the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, you can tour the home where Lincoln lived for 17 years and stroll around the preserved four-block Lincoln-era neighborhood. Donât miss: The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum contains the Gettysburg Address and many of Lincolnâs handwritten papers, his trademark stovepipe hat, and bloodstained gloves and handkerchief from the night of his death. In the museumâs âMrs. Lincolnâs Atticâ children’s area, kids of all ages can don Lincoln’s suit, Mary’s dress, or a Civil War soldierâs uniform; play with the Lincoln family doll house; or practice the alphabet with slate and chalk.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: The turning point of the Civil War came to define us as a nation. Four months after a three-day battle left 8,000 soldiers dead and another 27,000 wounded, Lincoln delivered âa few appropriate remarksâ at what is now Gettysburg National Military Park. In the visitor center, orient yourself with films and spend time admiring the massive Cyclorama paintingâan oil depiction of Pickettâs charge battle thatâs as long as a football field and four stories high. The park includes David Wills House, where Lincoln finished the Gettysburg Address, and Soldiersâ National Cemetery. There are many options for touring the park, from historian-guided tours on foot or horseback to self-guided tours on foot, by car or bike. Donât miss: Kids can earn a free Junior Ranger badge for completing tasks in an activities booklet. In the summer, kids ages 7 to 12 can âenlistâ in a Civil War army for an hour and find out what a soldierâs life was like.
Washington, DC: Along with the Lincoln Memorial and White House, you can visit Lincolnâs Cottage, where the first family lived on the expansive grounds of the Soldierâs Home for over a year. (Lincoln commuted to the White House, three miles away.) The President worked on the Emancipation Proclamation here, and the house displays an original, signed copy of the document.
One of the most powerful places in our nationâs capital is Fordâs Theater, site of Lincolnâs assassination. You can view John Wilkes Boothâs gun, the bunting that decorated the Presidential box, and clothing Lincoln wore on that fateful evening. Donât miss: For a special experience, take in a show and be sure to point out the Presidential box to your kids.
Dave Parfitt of AdventuresbyDaddy.com contributed this to www.MiniTime.com.