Summer Fun in Central Illinois

Cemtral Illinois

Recently my husband Keith and I have been finding some new adventures in Central Illinois. It is always fun to find things to do nearby. We found a new animal adventure park and some Lincoln haunts.

Aikman Wildlife Adventure located in Central Illinois

Sadly Grandkid adventures this summer have been less than in years past. As they have got older, they have been busier it seems. So as summer is coming to an end, we have grasped the last summer days and been trying to fit in fun “grandcamps” as my grandkids call our grand adventures. Our latest trek was to the outside of Arcola Illinois to the former Rockhome Garden that is now Aikman Wildlife Adventure. The older crowd may remember with fondness the former Rockhome Garden the Amish restaurant and beautiful rock structures and gardens.

Central Illinois
There are a few remnants of the former Rockhome Gardens that remain.

Today this has been converted to a wildlife adventure park. There are three wonderful options and we tried them all! There was the walk through animal adventure, the drive through animal adventure, and the Museum of Prehistoric Life. This fun museum has life size models of the animals that lived back in Prehistoric times. The grands had a lot of fun posing in this museum!

Central Illinois
The grankids loved the prehistoric museum!

While I would have thought that the walk through animal part would have been the favorite, surprisingly it was the Museum of Prehistoric Life that they liked the best. This made for a fun morning.

Central Illinois
Feeding the animals was a favorite activity.

Yoders Kitchen

After the animal adventure, we headed to Arthur and took the grandkids to Yoder’s Kitchen for down home Amish cooking. The grandkids loved the buffet. My grandson Cade was quite enamored with the homemade mashed potatoes, and Lilly loved the fried chicken. Really what is not to love at this great place?

Lincoln Sites in Coles County

On Saturday, Keith and I headed to the Cumberland County Fair in Greenup, Illinois to see a concert with the Kentucky Headhunters. Fellow collector Fred Young is the drummer in this Grammy Award Winning band. As a girl, I lived in Mattoon, Illinois and we used to visit the Lincoln Home in Lerna, Illinois. Little did I know that they have expanded this site with a Visitor’s Center and a new cabin! Plus, we found Thomas Lincoln’s grave, another Central Illinois find.

Thomas Lincoln’s Grave, Abraham Lincoln’s father, a true Central Illinois find

On our way, we stopped in Coles County at Thomas Lincoln’s Grave. Thomas was Abraham Lincoln’s father. This was a new Lincoln stop for me. There is a Looking For Lincoln sign that shares, “As was common in rural cemeteries, Thomas Lincoln’s marker originally was probably no more than a simple rock placed to mark the gravesite…”

Central Illinois
Thomas Lincoln’s grave. A new stone has been erected because scavenger hunters chipped away at this one.

John J. Hall, Sarah Lincoln’s grandson later told an Abraham Lincoln biographer that Abe Lincoln carved the initials “TL” on a board and placed it on his father’s grave. He did this on his last visit in January of 1861 before heading to the Whitehouse. After President Lincoln’s death a permanent marker was made from funds raised by Robert Lincoln and friends. Because chips have been taken out of it by souvenir hunters the Lion’s Club made a later marker in the 1930s.

The Reuben Moore House

President Lincoln came to visit his step-mother Sarah Bush Lincoln on January 31, 1861, before heading to the Whitehouse. She was staying with her daughter, Matilda Johnson Moore. Married to Rueben Moore, they lived in a nearby cabin, close to Lincoln Log Cabin. The next day, his step mother accompanied him to the train in Charleston to see him off before leaving Illinois for his inauguration. The Moore house is under construction and not in great shape, but what a historic site!

Lincoln Log Cabin, a Central Illinois Stop

Central Illinois
Beautiful Lincoln Log Cabin

Set in the 1840’s, we found the last Lincoln farm, Lincoln Log Cabin. owned by Thomas Lincoln, he built a farm on a tract of land where he lived until his death in 1851. Abraham Lincoln held title to the forty acres of land where his parents lived. Thomas Lincoln married Sarah Bush Johnston after losing his wife Nancy Hanks to milk sickness. Sarah was widowed at age 27 and she had three young children, two girls and a boy.

Central Illinois

This stop offers a film at the wonderful visitors center, and two farms. Thomas and Sarah Lincolns (Abraham never lived here) along with a more modern farmstead to offer a contrast. We arrived late and only got to see part of this amazing site. We want to go back when we have more time. Be sure to give yourself hours. When I was a girl, 45 minutes top would have done the trick. Not so anymore, great improvements have been done in this Central Illinois location!

Lincoln Stop in Bath, Illinois

When my friend Rose Hammitt and I traveled to Bath, Illinois to attend the Flying Carp festival I was excited to find a new Lincoln stop. We learned that Abraham Lincoln had spoke in Bath, Illinois! There is a wayside marker explaining the town was the site of one of Abraham Lincoln’s “a house divided…cannot stand” speeches in 1858. Lincoln also surveyed the town in 1836!

These are a few of the recent Central Illinois stops we have found not far from the Springfield, Illinois area. Have you been?

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  1. Lisa | Handmade in Israel

    I would have enjoyed the animal park! How fun to take out the grandchildren.

    1. Cindy

      The animal park with the grandkids was great fun!

  2. Rob + Ann @TravelLatte

    It’s impressive that so much Lincoln family history still survives! And the animal park sounds fun! More reasons to drive through Central Illinois rather than fly over. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!