One of the biggest mysteries on Fox's hit comedy "The Simpsons" is not who shot Mr. Burns (that was Maggie), but the home state of the cartoon family, who reside in "Springfield" -- one of the more common names for U.S. cities. Indeed, using a state-by-state Mapquest search, we found 53 Springfields in 34 states. In honor of the show's 16th season, set to begin next Sunday (Nov. 7), we went in search of Homer & Co.'s stomping grounds, choosing three Springfields that would appeal to travelers -- and Bart, Lisa, Marge, etc.
-- Andrea Sachs
WHERE: Smack in the middle of the Prairie State.
GO BECAUSE . . . Illinois's capital boasts the State Capitol (old and new), where you can see legislators in action and more than four score of Lincoln history. Sites include the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (112 N. Sixth St., 217-558-8844, www.alincoln-library.com; free), which opened Oct. 14; Lincoln's Home (413 S. Eighth St., 217-492-4241 Ext. 221, www.nps.gov/liho; free); the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices (Sixth and Adams, 217-785-7960; free), where Lincoln practiced law; and the Lincoln Tomb (Oak Ridge Cemetery, 217-782-2717; free), the first family's resting place.
SIMPSONS PICKS: For Lisa -- and other jazz and blues lovers -- clubs include Jazz Central Station (700 E. Adams-Hilton) and Norb Andy's Tabarin (518 E. Capitol) . . . Mr. Burns might enjoy the Museum of Funeral Customs (1440 Monument Ave., 217-544-3480, www.funeralmuseum.org; $3) . . . Maggie and other tots can visit the Hensen Robinson Zoo (1100 E. Lake Dr., 217-753-6217, www.hensonrobinsonzoo.org; $3.25).
DOUGHNUTS, BEER, ETC.: Springfield has Mel-o-Creme Donuts (various locations) as well as numerous bars, such as Floyd's Thirst Parlor (210 S. Fifth St.) and Marly's Pub (9 SW Old State Capitol Pl.). The city is known for its Homerlicious sandwich called the "horseshoe" (burgers, fries, cheese sauce plopped atop a slice of bread); try one at local fave D'Arcy's Pint (2413 S. MacArthur Blvd.)
INFO: Springfield Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-545-7300, www.visit-springfieldillinois.com.
WHERE: On the border of Arkansas, less than 3 1/2 hours southwest of St. Louis.
GO BECAUSE . . . This town that sits in the middle of Missouri's lake country, amid the Ozarks and a network of rivers, is all natural. Other wonders include Fantastic Caverns (4872 N. Farm Rd. 125, 417-833-2010; $17). Downtown is also jam-packed with green spaces, galleries, restaurants, theaters and wall murals. For history, you have military sites and museums from the Civil War on up.