Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Looking for a unique family vacation this summer? With gasoline over $4.00 a gallon, many Sandwiched Boomers are opting to travel close to home. If home for you is the Midwest, we’ve got more jewels for you today. Since this year marks the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois is an especially meaningful choice for a day- or a weekend trip.

The Presidential Museum is filled with entertaining and educational exhibits appealing to both adults and children. Making use of 21st century technology, Disney magic and historical accuracy, the museum vividly transports you back to Abraham Lincoln’s world. Many are inspiring, all are informative and well worth the trip as you step back in time.

While you’re in Springfield, be sure to save time to see Lincoln’s family home, his law office, his final resting place and the Old State Capitol where he gave his famous speech before the start of the Civil War, cautioning that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Being immersed in all the artifacts in Springfield really brings history to life.

Looking for more off the beaten path treasures for your family daytrips during your staycation this summer? Just being on historic Route 66 and Highway 40 brings back to life the excitement of discovery and travel during the simpler times of childhood for most Baby Boomers. You never know what you will discover when you wander onto the back roads.

Just north of Lafayette, Indiana, we came across a sign for the Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum. We stopped because we knew that it involved the presidential campaign of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler – but nothing more. Once inside we spent several hours there learning about the battle and terrible forced march and dislocation of the vanquished Native Americans. Our history isn’t always what we wish, but it’s up to us to know about it.

As they say, “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” And where I’ve been is to my 50th high school reunion! In addition to seeing old friends, I got the chance to revisit the iconic Gateway Arch, the beautiful design by Eero Saarinen, honoring St. Louis as the gateway to the West. If you’re in the Midwest, plan to visit it and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in which it sits, along the mighty Mississippi River. While the levee in St. Louis is holding up well, our hearts and prayers go out to those families who are suffering from flooding downstream along the Mississippi.

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