Illinois March 27, 2018
12 Best Ways To Celebrate Illinois’ 200th Birthday This Year
This year is Illinois’ bicentennial, and there are a million different ways to celebrate this incredible milestone in our state’s history. We became a state December 3, 1818, and in the past 200 years, the Prairie State has seen and dealt with much hardship, success, and everything in between.
Give Illinois the birthday celebration it deserves this year with these 12 historical museums and events listed below. Check them out:
1. From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama, March 23 through Dec 31, 2018 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
A new temporary exhibit is now open at the Lincoln Presidential Museum to celebrate Illinois' 200th year. It will focus on the U.S. Presidents who have called Illinois their home at one time or another. Guests will learn about each man's most famous political battles, the first ladies who stood by their sides, and details about their youth. There are also artifacts from the childhoods of some former presidents as well as speech drafts and more. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
2. Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon, April 7, 2018 in Downtown Springfield.
This incredible and historic half marathon lasts from 7 a.m. to noon and takes participants on a tour of Abraham-Lincoln-related attractions like the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and his final resting place at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Those who finish the race get to celebrate with locals on the Old State Capitol lawn.
3. Naper Settlement's Happy Illinois Bicentennial Birthday Bash, May 6, 2018 in Naperville.
Locals can take a tour of this historic settlement lead by a period actor at this event. The narrator will take guests through the story of the history of Illinois in a fun and engaging way. You'll learn all about famous people who came from our state plus major historical events you may not know about.
4. Illinois Bicentennial Route 66 Motorcycle Ride, August 26, 2018.
Taking place along Route 66 in Illinois, this epic motorcycle tour takes riders through Joliet, Pontiac, Bloomington/Normal, Springfield, and many other small towns in between. The brigade will be lead by Governor Rauner and will pass many Route 66 attractions and other historic sites.
5. IL Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum, 110 W Howard Street in Pontiac.
While you're exploring Route 66 attractions, you have to stop by this famous museum. Learn all you need to know about this historic road right here. The place is full of relics, murals, old photographs, and other memorabilia that will take you back.
6. We're Gonna Party Like it is 1818!, October 11, 2018 at the DuPage County Historical Museum.
This fun event lets you pretend you're a citizen of 1818 Illinois. Transport yourself 200 years back and test out the popular foods and dances that brought people together. The event is free and will also include live music relevant to the early 1800s.
7. Illinois Bicentennial Birthday Party, December 3, 2018 at the United Center.
Taking place in Chicago, this is the signature event being held in Illinois to celebrate the Land of Lincoln. It will be a gala including music, celebrities, and other entertainment. Presenters will introduce the Bicentennial Hall of Famers and detail their contributions to the state.
8. Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road in Union.
When it comes to our state's history, there's no denying that trains have had a lot to do with it. Check out the largest railroad museum in America right here and learn all about different steam engines and commuter trains that make our world spin. Check out previous coverage of this incredible museum
9. Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum, 211 N Main Street in Rockford.
Built in 1903, this museum is a memorial to veterans from all wars fought for America. Guests can take private or guided tours while learning all about our nation and our state's involvement in wars from the Revolution to present day. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
10. Museum of the Grand Prairie, 950 North Lombard Route 47 in Mahomet.
You can't truly understand the history of Illinois without understanding the history of it's wildlife. This museum aims to collect and preserve the culture and natural history of East Central Illinois. Stop by any day between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to learn about prairie grass, trees, critters, and so much more.
11. American Farm Heritage Museum, 1395 Museum Avenue in Greenville.
From May through October, guests can explore these grounds on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The railroad runs the first Saturday of each month, but the main attraction is a 16,000 square-foot building that features ancient equipment, tools, and machinery. You must learn about the state's farming history to get the full picture.
12. Illinois State Museum, 502 S Spring Street in Springfield.
Open daily from 9 a.m. (noon on Sundays) to 4:30 p.m., this museum is a must-visit if you wish to learn about Illinois and celebrate the bicentennial. It was founded in 1877 with the purpose of promoting learning and discovery of our natural world and heritage. From plants to animals to people, you'll learn about it all here.
If your favorite thing about Illinois is Abraham Lincoln, check out this
fantastic trail of Lincoln attractions that belong on your bucket list.
What will you be doing to celebrate Illinois’ bicentennial? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!