We’re continuing around the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite towns (with museums) in the order that Laura lived there. Our next stop is Walnut Grove, Minnesota home of On the Banks of Plum Creek and the setting, in a fictionalized form, of the NBC TV series Little House on the Prairie.
Walnut Grove is not the county seat and is smaller than some of the other Laura homesite towns. For instance, while there are a couple of restaurants there is NO motel or bed and breakfast in Walnut Grove. This is especially important to realize if you visit to attend the pageant. Be sure to have a reservation at a lodging in the surroundings communities and check in before coming for the show so you’ll be sure of a bed for the night. While there are restaurants, in order to accommodate the huge influx of people for pageant nights they also have community groups do a fundraiser meal in the community center on pageant nights which they call Pageant Suppers. Also, on the pageant grounds themselves there is a concessions stand which provides the type of food you’d normally find at a high school game.
Walnut Grove sits close to the center of the portion of Highway 14 that is designated as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway and is a great place to take photos of the Laura Highway signs. Most of the town sits south of the highway. Look for helpful directional signs to point you towards the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and the Pageant Grounds south of the highway and the dugout site north of it. Be sure not to miss the downtown area of Walnut Grove which includes a large Laura mural and some neat shops. Since they are a smaller community the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum has taken on many of the responsibilities for travel information that in a larger town would be carried out by a Chamber of Commerce or a Visitor’s Information Bureau. Be sure to check all aspects of their website.
The town’s has benefited by a large immigration of Hmong people who were looking for a safer place than the Twin Cities after they immigrated to the United States. One of their leader’s daughters was a Laura fan and suggested Walnut Grove. They now make up a significant percentage of the population.
Check out these resources to plan your trip:
- City website
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Lodging
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Food
Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Facebook
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Twitter
Walnut Grove is another one of the homesites that I visit a lot. Whether I’m specifically going to Walnut Grove or heading to De Smet unless I’m incredibly pushed for time, Walnut Grove is going to get a stop. I like to visit during the pageant weeks when they go out of their way to have extra stuff to do for visitors, but it’s worth a friendly visit at any time. Find a round up of my posts about Walnut Grove on my personal blog here. Some businesses that I enjoy visiting and mention in various blog posts are listed here, find more options on the Official City Website and Chamber of Commerce Website under the appropriate tab (shopping, where to stay, etc.):
- Redwood Falls is a larger town nearby and their visitor information center covers the region.
- Fond Memories
- Walnut Grove Bar and Grill
- Nellie’s Restaurant They don’t seem to have an official website or Facebook page
- Plum Creek Park – Lake Laura and Camping
- Bubai Food Store
- Sanborn Sod House – It’s actually outside of the town of Sanborn continue up Highway 71 until just before it junctions with 14 and look for the signs. There is also a sign and a way there off 14, but both ways require you drive about a mile on gravel.
Sarah S. Uthoff blogs at TrundleBed Tales; look for her on Facebook, Twitter , YouTube, Blog Talk Radio, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association, Acting President.