The Ingalls Homestead: Our Favorite Day Ever

There are days that live on in memory as being the best. The perfect day. Your wedding. The birth of your child(ren.) And, a day on the Ingalls Homestead.

Yes, I’m serious. It belongs in the same category!

Earlier this summer our family was fortunate enough to spend 24-hours on the homestead. Without a doubt, it was not only the highlight of our cross-country trip, but a true highlight of life!

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Before I tell you WHY we loved it so much, let me catch you up on WHAT it is (for those who may not know.)

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote a series of autobiographical children’s books about growing up in the late 1800’s. Her books vividly describe the family’s modest, prairie lifestyle. Due to westward expansion, the Ingalls family moved several times throughout Laura’s childhood.

One of the most memorable spots they settled (and the setting for several of her last books) is De Smet, South Dakota. This property has been preserved and turned into an amazing place to visit!

Growing up I wanted to be Laura. In fact, I didn’t know any little girl who didn’t want to be her! Although I was quite a city girl, I dreamed of living off the land and walking to school. I envied the simple lifestyle and the pioneer spirit. I watched my own daughter fall in love with Laura’s books and lifestyle too.

And so, it wasn’t even a debate when I realized our cross-country trip would take us right through De Smet. Of course we would spend time at The Ingalls Homestead!

The best part about visiting the Ingalls Homestead is that every guest instantly becomes a member of the family. You go back over a hundred years and step into the prairie lifestyle.

We were able to take a wagon ride to the one-room schoolhouse. We got dressed up and got a very authentic lesson from a teacher. She brought history to life by describing what school would have been like back in the 1800’s for Laura and her sisters. She used many examples from various books Laura wrote.

Our family also got to spend quite a bit of time playing on the farm. The kids made jump ropes and corn cob dolls. They ground wheat and washed clothes. And they even got to drive a buggy around the field. I can’t even explain how much joy I saw as they ran through the South Dakota fields and held baby kittens in the barn.

Another major highlight was touring the Ingalls family home. We listened to some of the books during our cross-country drive (audible) and it was amazing to see the exact details Laura described. There are many original items still in the home. It’s truly like stepping onto a perfect movie set- except it’s the real thing!

We could have ended our time at The Ingalls Homestead (reluctantly) right then, and it would have been the perfect day. But the icing on the cake was spending the night on property in a covered wagon!

Dream. Come. True.

The kids will NEVER forget this experience. We got settled in for the night, made a camp fire and watched the sun set. We listened to crickets chirping and all the noises a prairie makes as we drifted off to sleep. We woke up to a soft rain on the canvas of our covered wagon (cozy and dry inside.)

Although a bit overcast and drizzly, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to watch the sun rise over the Ingalls property. It was magnificent!

The most difficult thing we had to do on our whole trip was pack up our stuff from the covered wagon and drive away. I’m quite certain our family would have been content to stay at The Ingalls Homestead forever!

Without a doubt, this is something you need to put on your bucket list! For more information, visit The Ingalls Homestead website. In addition to the covered wagons, there are a couple other options for camping on property. There is also a fabulous gift shop that you can’t miss!

*The most sincere gratitude to The Ingalls Homestead for not only hosting our stay, but for being responsible for our family’s best day ever! We can’t wait to come back!*

You might also enjoy reading:

10 Years of Traveling With Kids

A Look Behind The Scenes

The Tennessee River Side Trip

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