We’re continuing around the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite towns (with museums) in the order that Laura lived there. Our next stop is De Smet, South Dakota. De Smet is the county seat of Kingsbury County. Situated on Highway 14 with a fairly short and direct route from I-90, De Smet is well situated for the ease of tourists….assuming they get near South Dakota in the first place.
De Smet is one of the largest homesite towns proper and a couple of college towns (the one people pass through most is Brookings) are nearby with even more options. De Smet can boast all sorts of accommodations from a modern hotel with a pool to a covered wagon you can rent to camp in for the night and about everything in between. There are also several restaurants, including a Country Club. So there is plenty to do in De Smet, Laura related or not. Since the majority of Laura’s books and her growing up years were spent in De Smet and Pa, Ma, Mary, Carrie, and Grace continued to live in the area after Laura left, there are more places to see in and around De Smet related to Laura and her family than any other homesite town. It formed the setting for five of Laura’s books as a result many places, both mentioned in the books and important in real life are still around for people to visit. While some have been lost, like Pa’s original store building and the Wilder Feed and Seed, many are still around and visitable. For example, you can shop at the Loftus Store, stay over night at Banker Ruth’s house (the Prairie Manor Bed and Breakfast), tour the Surveyor’s house and De Smet’s first school, walk or ride over the Ingalls Homestead, pay your respects to the family at the local cemetery, and that’s just a fraction of everything to see and do in De Smet. I never have enough time to spend there.
Check out some of these resources to help you plan your trip:
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society (Surveyors House, First School, Ingalls Third Street Home)
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society Facebook
- Ingalls Homestead (Site of the Ingalls Homestead, recreated buildings, LOTS of hands on activities)
Ingalls Homestead Facebook
Ingalls Homestead YouTube
- De Smet Pageant
De Smet Pageant Facebook
- Depot Museum
- De Smet News
- De Smet News Facebook
- Loftus Store
De Smet is one of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite towns. I go as often as I can and I know of a couple of families who went there to visit and ended up moving there.
Find a round up of my posts about De Smet 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.):
- Prairie Manor (Home of the Pancake Man breakfast, unlike most places you do have to pre-pay for your room)
- Super Deluxe Inn (the most modern motel in town, it offers lovely rooms, a pool, and a strong wifi signal for guests, run by the family who previously ran the Prairie Manor, it was built roughly 10 years ago as a Super 8 and follows the format and guest expectations of a newer Super 8 even if they no longer are associated with the chain, the continental breakfast is very basic)
- Cottage Inn Motel (owned by the same family as the Oxbow, they have taken care of Laura tourists for decades, basic accommodations but serviceable, ask for one of the newer rooms and mention it when you make the reservation if you want wifi access)
- Camp in Covered Wagon or Your Gear on Ingalls Homestead
- Oxbow Restaurant(very tourist friendly, neighborhood restaurant level, family has owned it for decades, they also participate regularly in the PBS restaurant discount program if you got one with your local PBS pledge make sure you have a South Dakota listing before you go – contact your local station if you didn’t get one and ask)
- Ward’s Store
- Dairy Queen/Subway (Home of the best iced tea in De Smet and free wifi access)
- Country Club De Smet
- Lake Thompson Recreational Area
- South Dakota State Art Museum
South Dakota State Art Museum Facebook
- South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum
South Dakota State Ag Museum on Facebook
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.