A “Little House on the Prairie” Road Trip Following the Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder
If you are a fan of the “Little House on the Prairie” books or television series, this road trip will have you on a historical adventure! From the rural woods of Wisconsin to the hills of north Florida, you can trace the life and homesteads of the popular author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Immortalized by her best selling books and later a hit television series, Laura Ingalls Wilder has become a symbol of the Pioneer Age of America. Landmarks across the United States have preserved her legacy by preserving what is left of her adventurous life on the American frontier.
Burr Oak, Iowa
Ingalls Family Home
After leaving Walnut Grove, the Ingalls Family moved to the small town of Burr Oak, Iowa. Laura was only nine years old when her family made the move. While in Burr Oak the family helped manage the Masters Hotel. The family lived here for about a year.
The Masters Hotel is open for tours. It is located at 3603 236th Avenue, Burr Oak. For information about hours and admission please click here.
Birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder: “Wayside Cabin”
It was here in small community of Pepin, Wisconsin on February 7, 1867 that Laura Ingalls was born. She wrote in her books, “Once upon a time…a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin in a little gray house made of logs”. For the first few years of Laura’s life the Ingalls family lived in this spot until they decided to move to Kansas. Their homestead in Kansas was short-lived due to the constant threat of Native American attacks so they returned back to this cabin. The family lived at this site until 1873, when they moved off to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
Wayside Cabin is located at 3238 County Road Cc in Pepin, Wisconsin. It is free to visit and open 24/7. Click here to read more!
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum has on display some artifacts from Laura’s life as well as other period pieces. It traces the youth of the author along with the day in the life of settlers during that time.
The museum does charge admission and is located at 306 Third Street in downtown Pepin. For more information about admission and hours click here.
The City of Pepin also annually hosts the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days Festival complete with a fiddle contest, wagon rides and so much more!
Walnut Grove, Minnesota
Original Site of the Ingalls Family Dugout
Around 1874, the Ingalls Family lived in the dugout that once was at this site. Years ago the roof caved in. Now visitors can see the sunken ground where the dugout once was. Also nearby is the alleged rock that Laura talked about in her books. She and her sister Mary used to play on it. The family tried to produce crops several times but always failed. They sold the property soon after when they moved to Iowa.
The Ingalls Family Dugout Site is located on the Banks of Plum Creek just off Highway 5 in Walnut Grove. This site is free to visit.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
The Walnut Grove Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum has had the honor of being visited by several of the television series stars. It features period clothing, machinery and other artifacts from the late 1800s.
There is an admission to the museum and for more information please click here.
Nellie’s “Little Café on the Prairie”
This quaint little roadside café has been dedicated to Nellie, one of the characters well known of the television show, “Little House on the Prairie”. Inside photos from of the actress and other memorabilia are on display.
Enjoy timeless American food at this cute restaurant. It is located at 550 U.S. 14 in Walnut Grove.
De Smet, South Dakota
Laura Ingalls Wilder Home
What is referred to as the Surveyor’s House, is the site of what Laura wrote about in her book, “By the Shores of Silver Lake”. This was the city home of Laura and Almanzo and Rose.
This home was built by Charles Ingalls in the late 1880s. The Ingalls family lived at this home for many years.
Charles “Pa” Ingalls Homestead
The homestead the Charles Ingalls once started still lies about a mile south of the city of De Smet. At this site, five of the cottonwood trees that the Ingalls family once planted still stand. Laura spent some of her childhood at this site.
Almanzo Wilder’s Homestead
Almanzo Wilder staked his claim of this land located on Highway 25 just a short distance north of De Smet. Laura married Almanzo in 1885 in De Smet. It was also the birthplace of their daughter Rose and unnamed son who died shortly after birth.
First School of De Smet
This was the first school house in De Smet. Laura and her sisters would have attended here during their childhood.
De Smet Cemetery
The De Smet Cemetery is the final resting place of many of Laura’s family members and friends. Some of the most popular include Charles, Caroline, Mary, Carrie, Grace and Laura and Almanzo’ s infant son.
For more information about visiting the attractions in De Smet, South Dakota please click here.
Little House on the Prairie Museum
At this site Laura lived with her parents, Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Her sister Mary was also in residence with them when their younger sister Carrie was born at this site. They lived here for about a year in the late 1860s.
It is located at 2507 County Road 3000, Independence, Kansas. For current admission and hours please click here.
Wilder Farmhouse on Rocky Ridge
Leaving South Dakota in 1894, the Wilder’s moved to Mansfield, Missouri where they purchased 40 acres. The only house on the site was a small cabin which they added onto and later moved. The addition they added later became what is now the kitchen in the farmhouse.
After many additions and renovations the Wilder Farmhouse was completed in 1913. This was one of the two homes from which the famous “Little House on the Prairie” books were written.
Admission to the house also include tours of both the farmhouse, rock house and museum. On display is also Charles “Pa” Ingalls’ famous fiddle. For more information please click here.
The Rock House
Just like Laura, her daughter Rose was also an author. Rose built the Rock House for her parents in 1928, which they moved into soon after. The first four “Little House on the Prairie” books were wrote here. For nearly ten years the Wilder’s lived in this home until they decided to return back to their farmhouse.
Historic Town Square
There is a bust of Laura showcasing all of her books in the Historic Town Square of Mansfield.
Gravesites of Laura, Almanzo and Rose
The graves of the Almanzo and Laura Wilder along with their daughter Rose Lane are located in the Mansfield Cemetery. They are marked by several signs pointing you in the right direction. This site is at 200 North Lincoln Street in Mansfield.
Homesite of Laura and Almanzo
Laura’s cousin Peter Ingalls moved with his wife Molly and their children to New Hope, Florida in 1890. While this area is now referred to as Westville it was once a site thought to make a good place for settlers.
Soon after in 1891, Almanzo, Laura and Rose moved to New Hope leaving Almanzo’ s family in Minnesota. They stayed for one year and Laura despised the humid weather. After they lived here they moved to De Smet, South Dakota where the Ingalls family lived.
The site that the family lived at was known as Webb Mill. It is marked in a small park along Highway 163 in Westville. It is free to visit.
Mt. Ida Methodist and Congregational Church
During their stay in the New Hope area, Laura and Almanzo attended the Mt. Ida Methodist and Congregational Church. Her cousin Peter his family attended here as well. You can visit the graves of Peter, his wife and his son behind the church.
The church is located at 1305 Mt. Ida Road in Westville.
This “Little House on the Prairie” Road Trip is meant to inspire a historical journey of the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you complete the road trip or visit any of the destinations be sure to post them to Violet Sky’s Adventure Club on Facebook.
Thanks for reading and as always, keep on truckin’.