This will be used as a link under the Top Questions feature to provide visitors with information about visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder attractions in DeSmet. Please disregard if you are not interested in visiting these attractions.
Time allotment: Allow at least a half day if you want to visit the historical society attractions. Allow a full day if you want to add Laura's Living Prairie. If you stay to see the pageant, it is suggested that you book lodging in town so you do not have to drive a great distance late at night to arrive at other lodging.
Getting there: From Sioux Falls or Minneapolis, exit I-29 at Brookings and get on US Hwy 14 west. From Rapid City, take I-90 east and exit either on Hwy 83 north to Pierre and then east on 14 or exit on 281 north and then east on 14. Allow about an hour and a half from Sioux Falls and about five hours from Minneapolis or Rapid City.
Lodging: The Prairie Manor Bed and Breakfast has been around a long time and is very highly rated on TA and is recommended by locals. The Heritage House has not been in business as long, but rates well on TA. The Super Deluxe Inn is a former Super 8 with an indoor pool. Families with children may prefer the motel. For campers, there are a few camping spots at Laura's Living Prairie. Previous visitors have warned that big rigs might have trouble on these sites due to the slope of the land. There are also some bunkhouse options at Laura's Living Prairie. The closest state park with camping is Lake Thompson. Lake Thompson does not have full hookups. Sites are electric and water and a dump station are available onsite. To reserve at Lake Thompson, go to www.campsd.com.
Attractions: Two separate groups operate attractions here. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society operates all the historical attractions. Their website is www.LIWMS.com. To tour the historic sites, arrive at the gift shop on Olivet Avenue. Guided tours are offered for some of the buildings. You will get to see two houses the Ingalls family lived in, one of which is the Surveyor's House mentioned in her books. For the other historical sites, you will be given a numbered map. DeSmet is a small town, so it's easy to navigate. Suggested stops are the cemetery where several family members are buried and the grove of trees Pa planted on his homestead site. Silver Lake is now a swamp. Laura and Almanzo's homestead is slightly north of town and there is nothing there except a sign.
The other item of interest is Laura's Living Prairie, run by a different group. Go to www.ingallshomestead.com for more information. This attraction gives tourists a chance to do some hands-on activities related to pioneer living.
In addition, for three weekends every July, the community puts on a pageant. Go to www.desmetpageant.org for more information. Performances start at 8:00 PM. It is suggested that you bring insect repellent and lawn chairs and possibly a blanket, although bench seating is available. Go with the expectation that you are seeing community theater, not a professional-grade performance, and you will have an enjoyable evening.