When I was planning our summer vacation to South Dakota, I did some research online and I discovered that the Laura Ingalls Homestead was in the east side of the state. My daughter and I both love Little House on the Prairie books, so it was added to the itinerary. It was our last destination in South Dakota and it was the highlight of the trip. We all had a great time, including my 15 yr old son. It was so fantastic that I have A LOT of photos to post.
The Ingalls Homestead, also known as Laura’s Living Prairie is the actual plot of land that the family homesteaded on. None of the buildings are original, but have been replicated and there are buildings from that era. It is located in De Smet, which is 90 miles NW of Souix Falls. A bit out of the way, but it’s so worth the visit.
They have a viewing platform on the far side of the main building and I took a series of photos that I chopped together below. Click to enlarge. Yes, I should have just used the panorama function on my phone!
Laura’s Living Prairie is completely hands on! During operating hours they have demonstrations and activities going on. After hours the buildings are closed, but not locked so you can continue to browse and play with the animals.
You can stay at the homestead in your RV, tent, or in one of their covered wagons. All the girls gathered in the evening and played on the old teeter-totter and merry-go-round. Even our dolls met up with others and enjoyed themselves!
We went into town and took the guided tour put on my the Laura Ingalls Historical Society. It was interesting. We also went and visited the family grace sites. Laura & Almonzo are buried in Missouri.
On our way home we drove straight east on Highway 14 to Maple Grove, Minnesota to see the Ingalls Dugout Site from the book On The Banks of Plum Creek. There is just an impression in the earth left, but it was very neat to know that the family lived here.
As you can see we had a fabulous time! My daughter & I really got into it wearing the prairie outfits that I made ahead of time. They did have outfits for sale there too. We are so glad that we went to the homestead. If anyone in your family has any interest in the Ingalls family or this time period, then you MUST visit. The tourist season has wound down, but make this part of your future plans.