This is a serious of replica building to what was there or what could have been in the area. The house and barn of Laura Inglalls Wilder, have been rebuilt on the site. There are many hands on activities to participate in. Then they have brought in a school house, church and dug a house in the side of a hill to replicate what was in the area. It is...more
In the one room school house (across the street from the Surveyors' House) are a lot of activities geared toward children. They were able to write their names in Braille, make a covered wagon, try on pioneer clothing, and play with toys that were typical of that time period. Our children really enjoyed these activities (especially writing their...more
If you plan to go to the cemetery, make sure to pick up a map of it at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. There are eleven graves of interest labeled on it. The Ingalls' family graves are in a row of five - Carrie, Mary, Baby Wilder (Laura and Almanzo's son who died before they could name him), Ma, and Pa. Grace is buried with her husband a...more
I would recommend beginning your time in De Smet here. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society and their gift shop is next door to the Surveyors' House and it is one of their members who gives the tour of the Surveyors' House along with a map of De Smet where many sites of interest are marked. Also, you pay for your tour of the Surveyors' House...more
This house is the last house that Pa built and the last house where Pa, Ma, and Mary lived. Carrie and Grace both lived here and Laura visited here before Pa died, too. A lot of their possessions are no longer here, since the owner after them got rid of a lot of their belongings. But, there are some interesting things such as some of their signed...more
When we arrived here, everyone greeted us very warmly explaining which buildings housed the restrooms and refreshments and giving us tickets for a free buggy ride. The seats for the pageant are benches, so we brought our chairs to be more comfortable. There was a lot of room between the benches, so we just set them up in front of them. The pageant...more
The Ingalls Homestead is perfect for children and adults alike who want to experience life on the prairie in the 1880s. The site is geared toward children and touching things is encouraged. Children are given a scavenger hunt before they enter the homestead area to find information about the Ingalls family and how the pioneers lived. Children can...more
This store is worth a look since it is in the original location of the Loftus Store that was written about in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. They have the typical tourist items in the front of the store such as the book series and t-shirts. Apparently, ladies from the Red Hat Society must go to De Smet often because the store carries a huge amount of red hats and purple clothing which is located in the back of the store. There is also another room which is a gift store that carries more expensive items that are not specific to the area. The owner is friendly and helpful and there is a showcase of items that were left over from the original store and found in its basement area.
What to buy: If you are a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, you will want to purchase something from the same location where Laura purchased Pa's suspenders.
FYI - it is not a member of the Loftus family who currently owns the store.
In October 2003 I went on a road trip through the United States, and on the way back we stopped for a day in De Smet, South Dakota, which was a childood dream of mine since I could finally visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder home.
When I was little I read the books over and over again, but I always hated that cheesy Michael Landon series, where the characters are completely inaccurate and silly, one always learn a "good American value" in every episode, and which is set in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, where the Ingalls family did not stay for very long and where only little can be seen today.
Fondest memory: When I got to De Smet, I was a little scared everything would be touristy, horrible painted pictures of smiley Lauras everywhere etc. But I was surprised because everything was pretty subtle and tasteful, I even had to look around a bit to find the Ingalls home.
On the graveyard in De Smet you can see the Ingalls' graves, but not Lauras and Almanzos (in Mansfield, Missouri). It was impressive. Then there are the two Ingalls townhouses with more objects and photos etc, than you would imagine! Unfortunately you could take pictures on the inside. If you are a Laura fan you will get so much out of this! the guide could tell interesting tales about what happened to Laura and the other family members later etc.
Outside De Smet, there is the Ingalls prarie homestead. The land is there and Pas trees, the other things are reconstructed to show how it was. It was so amazing to stand out on the prairie and everything was wide and golden and the Ingalls had walked on this land. The guides and staff were so friendly and helpful, but not obtrusive. Maybe in the summer you should not go, because it is then that all the tourists come and they have an awful pageant, but on the off-season, you will so enjoy this visit!
It is near Brookings, South Dakota, about an hour north of the interstate. Don't worry if there are no signs leading to it, it really is there!
And please let me know if you're going there!