Our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, came from very humble beginnings. It’s amazing to visit his birthplace in Kentucky and realize this is where it all began. We visited the birthsite on our 2021 summer road trip and found it to be a very interesting stop!
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in a one-room cabin on his father’s Sinking Springs Farm. When he was two years old, his family moved to another homeplace about 10 miles away. His family, including his father, mother, and older sister, lived there until he was seven when the family moved to Indiana.
Sinking Springs Farm is near Hodgenville, KY where Lincoln is celebrated through a museum and a statue in the town square.
As we planned our summer road trip route, I consulted my Presidents and First Ladies historical site list and realized we would be within a few miles of Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace during our drive from Lexington, KY to Nashville, TN. Of course, I had to add it to our stops! Lincoln is my favorite president, and I’ve always wanted to visit the many sites linked to his life.
The road to the birthplace is a tribute to Lincoln itself – it’s called Lincoln Boulevard and intersects with Lincoln Parkway. The town of Hodgenville is very proud of its native son; don’t miss the Lincoln statue in the town square! Also be sure to check out the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail to learn about all of the Lincoln-related sites in the state.
The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is located on Lincoln’s actual birthsite. Your first stop should be the visitor center where you can learn more about Lincoln’s early life in its small museum. You can also pick up a free Junior Ranger activity book there for your kids!
We were there only 30 minutes before closing so we didn’t get a chance to view the 15-minute video but we did quickly walk through the museum.
The displays include the Lincoln family Bible and an interesting promissory note signed by both a Lincoln ancestor and an ancestor of Dr. Mudd, one of the Lincoln assassination co-conspirators!
After the visitor center, make your way down the sidewalk to the impressive Memorial Building.
This is the first Lincoln memorial built in the country, and it raised funds from everyday Americans to build the structure that would house what was thought to be the original Lincoln log cabin. While it has been proven to not be the original cabin, it is symbolic of the time and place where Lincoln was born.
The neoclassical structure is quite striking. Your kids will have fun racing up the stairs to view the cabin inside. Note the memorial closes 30 minutes prior to the visitor center. We missed seeing the cabin by just a few minutes!
A few steps away is the actual sinking spring for which the farm was named. It was amazing to descend the stairs and feel the temperature drop by at least 10 degrees!
The walking trail that begins here will lead you to the site of the boundary oak, a small sapling which grew near the Lincolns’ cabin until its death in 1976. You can see it on display in the visitor center.
There are several walking trails through the site, including the Big Sink Trail that takes you through the Lincolns’ farming site. We didn’t have time to do any of the trails but they look fun and educational with historical markers along the path. There’s also an abandoned tourist hotel at the site with log cabins.
Associated with the birthplace is the nearby Lincoln Boyhood Home at Knob Creek Farm. It was closed during our visit but was due to reopen in August. Be sure to check it out!
President Lincoln is considered our greatest president by many scholars. It’s important for our children to visit the sites from his life to learn how this boy from a humble farm came to be the intelligent, compassionate man that led our country through its most difficult years. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is the perfect place to begin!
- Cost: Free
- Recommended: all ages
- Tour time: 30-45 minutes
- Gift shop located in visitor center
- Transportation: The site is accessible only by car. It’s 1.5 hours from Lexington and 1 hour from Louisville.
- Dining options nearby: We didn’t have a chance to eat nearby but Hodgenville has several cute diners and local restaurants.
- Hotel options: The closest town with hotels is Elizabethtown, KY (20 minute drive). Check out the Elizabethtown tourism site for options.
- Nearby attractions: Lincoln Statue (in Hodgenville town square), Lincoln Museum, Lincoln Heritage House and Sarah Lincoln Memorial Cabin in Elizabethtown, Hardin County History Museum, Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, and Mammoth Cave National Park
- Other Lincoln sites include:
- DC: Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre, and Lincoln’s Cottage
- CA: Lincoln Memorial Shrine
- IL: Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln Heritage Museum, and Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site
- IN: Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
- KY: The Lincoln Museum, and Mary Todd Lincoln House
- TN: Lincoln Library and Museum
Books to Read:
All links are Amazon affiliate links.
- 14 and up:
- 10 and up:
- Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days: 1809-1837
- Abe Lincoln at Last! (Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #19)
- Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Abraham Lincoln: A Nonfiction Companion
- Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
- DK Biography Abraham Lincoln: A Photographic Story of a Life
- It’s Up to You, Abe Lincoln
- Lincoln: A Photobiography
- 6 and up: