Travel Back In Time: The Best Historic Sites In Illinois

Illinois may be known for its modern-day attractions and bustling city life, but the state also has a rich history dating back centuries. From ancient Native American civilizations to the Civil War, Illinois has witnessed and played a significant role in many pivotal moments in American history. In this article, we will explore the best historic sites in Illinois, which offer a glimpse into the past and provide valuable insights into the state’s history.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Located in Collinsville, Illinois, the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico. The site features the remains of the ancient city of Cahokia, which was inhabited by Native American civilizations from 600-1400 AD. Visitors can explore the 2,200-acre site that includes multiple mounds, plazas, and ceremonial spaces that were once used for religious ceremonies and civic events. The largest mound, Monk’s Mound, is over 100 feet tall and offers a stunning view of the surrounding area.

Old State Capitol State Historic Site

The Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield was the state capitol building from 1839-1876 and served as Abraham Lincoln’s political home during his time as a state legislator and U.S. Congressman. Visitors can explore the elegant Greek Revival-style building and learn about the history of Illinois’ state government, including the important role it played during the Civil War and the 13th Amendment’s ratification, which abolished slavery in the United States.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Another must-see historic site in Springfield is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The home was procured by Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, in 1844 and was the only home the couple ever owned. Visitors can take a guided tour of the home and learn about the everyday life of Lincoln and his family during his time as a lawyer and politician in Springfield.

Galena Historic District

Galena, Illinois, is a charming town with a rich history, and the Galena Historic District offers visitors a glimpse into the town’s past. The district features over 85 percent of Galena’s remarkable 19th-century architecture, including brick-lined streets, antique shops, and boutique hotels. Visitors can take a guided tour of the area, attend events and festivals, or browse the many local shops and restaurants.

Amish Country

Illinois is home to a large Amish community, and visitors can experience their lifestyle and history by visiting the Amish country in Arthur. The town has preserved its Amish heritage, and visitors can discover various unique attractions, such as quilt shops, bakeries, furniture producers, and more. The Amish community forbids modern technology, and visitors can experience a glimpse into the past by watching their unique way of life, including horse-drawn buggies used for transportation and powered woodworking shops.

Bishop Hill State Historic Site

The Bishop Hill State Historic Site is a preserved 19th-century Swedish pioneer community located in Henry County, Illinois. The site features several historical buildings, including a colony store, blacksmith shop, and bakery. Visitors can learn about the community’s history and the Swedish immigrants who founded it, including how they established the first newspaper published in Swedish in the United States.


Illinois has a rich and diverse history spanning centuries, and these historic sites offer visitors the chance to step back in time and experience it all. Whether exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Cahokia, discovering the history of the state’s government in Springfield, or experiencing the Amish culture, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Take a step back in time and create unforgettable memories by visiting these historic sites in Illinois.

Scroll to Top