Experience the Hidden

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One of the best things about UIS is the strong sense of community and how close-knit the campus is. Students are constantly bombarded with event flyers and notices from friends  about different activities going on. However, a city lies right outside the cornfields and campus life, and there is a lot going on in Springfield. Something students complain about is that they do not know what Springfield has to offer. Although there are a lot of things obscured by the overshadowing presence of Abraham Lincoln, there are a multitude of hidden gems that present exciting chances for a fun-filled day off-campus if you know where to look.

Restaurant: Augie’s Front Burner

Augie’s is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that is located right across the street from the Old State Capitol on 5th Street. While the ambiance is quite upscale and can seem a little daunting upon first entering, Augie’s offers the perfect place for a date night or a classy evening with friends. Their lobster bisque is savory and perfect for a light appetizer, if one so chooses. One of the more tantalizing reasons to go to Augie’s is the Thrifty Thursday deal. For dinner on Thursday, they offer a three-course dinner for $14.99. However, there IS a catch. There are a preset amount of options, but essentially, it’s the chef’s choice for what they want to serve for dinner. If you are feeling adventurous, settle in for a cheap, multi-course meal that is absolutely delectable.

Coffee Shop/Bakery: Incredibly Delicious

Incredibly Delicious is located in a gorgeous historic house on 7th Street. The easiest entrance is the one facing Clay St., and the scent of warm, sweet baked goods floats past you before you even enter. An array of pastel-colored confections greet you at the counter, while crisp salads and fresh sandwiches are offered for light lunches. An essential when visiting Incredibly delicious are their macaroons, whose flavors are ever-changing with the season yet consistently flawless. Some other sweet treats include flourless chocolate cakes, a multitude of pies and coffee cakes. They also offer great breakfasts and the breakfast croissant is to die for. There is indoor seating – which allows you to bask in the charm of a historic home – or outdoor seating where you can take in the lush, fragrant gardens that are beautifully landscaped. It is always a pleasant experience and lovely no matter what time of year one visits.

Stores: Once in a Blue Moon

Blink and you will pass this adorable shop on Wabash Avenue, which is a few doors down from Little Saigon. Once in a Blue Moon offers customers a unique experience to peruse a wide selection beautifully made trinkets and art, paintings on handmade paper, jewelry made of fine beads, handwoven baskets, wooden postcards with gorgeous watercolor images on them, bookmarks with Victorian women as the models and so much more. The owner works primarily with fair trade dealers and artists located in various countries like Ghana, Poland, Haiti, and many others. Fair trade is an arrangement that allows for artists in developing countries to have an outlet to sell their art and products, and in doing so, reach a wider range of consumers. All of the products in the shop fit the bohemian aesthetic, and any of the pieces would surely brighten up a dorm. Some of the products are on the higher end of the price scale, but there are certainly many pieces that are very affordable for the college student budget. Once in a Blue Moon might seem a tad eclectic in the wide assortment, but the store is brimming with class and is worth a visit or two.

Tourist Sites: Dana-Thomas House

Abraham Lincoln is undeniably the leading historical figure in Springfield, so it is refreshing to step into a different era of history at the Dana-Thomas House. The Dana-Thomas House offers stunning architecture with a rich, yet tragic history of its first owner, Susan Lawrence Dana. Susan was a leading suffragist, a sympathetic philanthropist, and an entrepreneur in Springfield.  Built in 1904 by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the house itself is visually captivating. Once inside, the painted-glass glows in the sunlight and the story of the that enraptures those who listen. There are a few surprises inside the house that keep visitors guessing at every turn. The holiday season entices visitors to return, for the house’s magnificent displays and each room showcases a new theme. The tours run about an hour long, but there is no entry fee. The Dana-Thomas House is a must-see when sightseeing in Springfield, and the guides truly make history come alive around the participants.

Experience/Events: Old Capitol Farmer’s Market

Tired of eating the same old pre-packaged ramen noodles for dinner every night? Head on over to the farmer’s market, which is open every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. directly across the street from UIS’s Innovate location. There shoppers may find a wide assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, sweet and spicy peppers, homemade balms, warm apple cider, local honey, and even a stall of free books! Local business owners pack the two-block section for Adams Street, and they always have a wide variety of goods to choose from. Healthy options await at each area, and there are plenty of ingredients to select that will spice up any meal. Stop by the market soon, as it only runs until October 26th!

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