Homesite Travel & Lodging

Thanks to a fellow Laura fan who jogged my memory that I still had nowhere to stay, I made my reservations at this bed and breakfast in Malone for the event on June 21. I’ve never stayed there before, but it looks and sounds lovely.

Does anyone else think that the Laura sites don’t do as good a job as they could of promoting local lodging? Seems to me that the best travel and lodging tips I get are from people like me — just the fans who have been there, figuring it out as they go. The sites and the local lodging should get together and cross-promote. It’s definitely an untapped market that would be a win-win for all involved.

In the interest of sharing the love, I’ll update you all on Kilburn Manor after my stay.

The De Smet web site does a fairly decent job of this cross-promotion, actually, listing almost all of the lodging I’m aware of in the area. I fall short of an outright recommendation because, regrettably, Ingalls Homestead is overlooked, which is a head-scratcher — there isn’t a better prairie lodging experience available across all the homesites. Who wouldn’t like to wake up on the land Pa homesteaded? Although camping is allowed, your stay needn’t be rustic; I’ve stayed in their farmhouse, which is comfortable and spacious. During my last visit there I talked extensively with a family with two children who stayed quite happily in a covered wagon right in the middle of the property.

I’ve also stayed at the De Smet SuperDeluxe Inn & Suites (remodeled in 2003) and have been happy with it. Notable: They’ve got an indoor pool. There’s also Prairie House Manor, a B&B in a house reportedly once owned by Banker Ruth, a character in the Little House series’ De Smet books. I’ve eaten there — it was scrumptious — but I’ve never stayed there. Others have, though, and I’ve heard nothing but high praise.

I stayed a couple months ago at the Apple Tree Inn in Independence, which aside from the confusing room-numbering scheme was perfectly serviceable, with friendly staff and, to my daughter’s delight, an indoor pool.

As for restaurants, I can’t think of any that stand out as worthy of an endorsement. Uncle Jack’s, a restaurant with fabulous ambiance right in downtown Independence, used to be the one homesite-area restaurant I raved about uninvited. But unfortunately it’s gone downhill. The first few times I ate there, up until 2004, I would have rated it an 8 or a 9 out of 10. It was that good. But my last two visits would merit, at best, a 4. The ambiance is still partly there, but the food and service had taken a nosedive. I hate it when bad things happen to good restaurants.

Have you stayed or eaten anywhere noteworthy in your Little House travels?


13 Responses to Homesite Travel & Lodging

  1. Dakotagirl says:

    Don’t forget the Cottage Inn Motel in De Smet. Very reasonable rates and clean rooms. I like the two newer sections, one is a single level and the other is two levels.

    Rates run around $45-50 per night. They have wi-fi and the signal is very strong. Annette and Stan are great people. Annette loves to talk about the town and LIW. Stan is usually busy working at the Oxbow across the street, but you might get the chance to talk to him.

  2. Susan Gaissert says:

    Without naming names, our dining experiences in Walnut Grove and De Smet were sub par, but maybe we’re just spoiled Northeasterners. Probably the eating place we’ll most associate with the area is Dairy Queen. In our drive from MN to SD, we could tell which towns were larger by seeing whether they had just a gas station or, happily for us, a gas station AND a Dairy Queen.

  3. Jonni says:

    How fun, my husband and I will be staying at Kilburn Manor that weekend too! I think the B&B will be filled with Laura fans.

  4. Becky Harris says:

    When we were in DeSmet we spent 2 nights in the covered wagons on the Ingalls homestead. It was an amazing experience for the kids!

  5. Jonni says:

    Has anyone stayed at the Prairie House Manor in DeSmet? That’s where I’m staying in August and I’ve never been there before. I have eaten at the Oxbow but it was several years ago and I don’t have any strong memory of good or bad.

  6. Amy says:

    I stayed at the Prairie House Manor in 2005. Great, friendly proprietors; clean and fun rooms; truly excellent food–full breakfast in the morning and strawberry shortcake in the evenings. It really added to our first experience in DeSmet!

  7. Amy says:

    We stayed at the Prairie House Manor, but it was a while ago–2001–but we loved it. Lovely and comfortable.

  8. Dennis D. Picard says:

    When my wife and I visited Malone we staid in another B and B “up the hill” from the Kilburn. We did see the Manor as it is near the local Historical Society’s headquarters and historic house – a nice place to visit as well. The place we staid was a Queen Anne style – wonderful house and wonderful setting. We stumbled upon one of the best Italian restaurants downtown. It apparrently has been in the family for generations; a local favorite. The food was great. We walked around the town, by the cemetery and fairgrounds, church and so forth. One of the locals told us it was a fine place to visit in June, but February was a whole other story!

  9. Sarah Sue says:

    I stayed at Prairie Manor a few years ago and always recommend it as my favorite bed and breakfast. Private bathrooms with each room and a TV to check the weather forecast, that’s important in SD. 😉 I’m sorry they’ve closed their tea room, but I hope to stay there again. The SuperDeluxe is very like an Americinn if you’ve stayed in one of those. Last time out I stayed at the Homestead and got up at 4:15 to walk the grounds and take sunrise photos. Best place to do that from and a great experience. I had a reservation at the Cozy Inn last year, but had to cancel it, when my trip didn’t pan out.

    My mother’s favorite place to eat in DeSmet is the country club in DeSmet, although I’ve heard evening service can be reallllllllly slow. It’s usually my lunch or late afternoon eating spot. I like the bar/restaurant on the shores of Lake Thompson, but mostly for the view. The Oxbox is good for what it is, a small town or family corner diner type restaurant. Don’t expect it to be what it isn’t and you’ll find the food good. They also accept the PBS discount cards which is a great program and I really appreciate their participation.

  10. Connie says:

    Sandra – You know how I like to travel to the sites! The first few times starting in 1989 I camped my way along the prairie, stayed in a few B&Bs and drove on NO Interstate Highways. Nowadays, it’s the motels and B&Bs for me and hubby when he’s along. (We fly a small plane into places, too.) Here’s my list of favorites:

    DeSmet – The first time I visited DeSmet in 1989 all of the campgrounds were full, the one and only Cottage Inn was full, but the Little Town had people who opened their homes with extra bedrooms for Pageant weekends…that’s where I stayed for 3 days. The Cottage Inn used to be the ONLY place in town to lay your head on a pillow. Like Cheryl, I have enjoyed getting to know the Myers – Annette is a transplant who enjoys the small-town life and Stan runs the show now. Even though his parents, Tex and Jill have retired to Lake Preston, they still come into town and help at the motel and Oxbow on Pageant weedends. The wi-fi was a little hard to reach when I was there in March, but it may have been my laptop.
    The Prairie Manor is a wonderful B&B where Connie serves pancake-men like Ma. Shhh-don’t tell your little ones about that or spoil Connie’s charming presentation!
    The camping lodge at Lake Thompson would be a blast if it was filled with LIW fans. Don’t forget to eat at the Oxbow (daily specials) for a true ‘Little Town’ feel, the new-ownership restaurant at the Country Club, and of course stop in at the DQ. Ward’s Cafe downtown also has wi-fi.

    Keystone – I always camp in the Black Hills and go to Mt. Rushmore just up the road.

    Walnut Grove – I head to the Valentine B&B in Tracy. It’s a family run classic Victorian with lots of rooms in the middle of town. I always meet new Laura fans there.
    The Walnut Grove campground is good, but it definitely feels crowded during Pageant weekends.

    Malone – We have stayed twice at the Kilburn Manor and had funny but great experiences getting to know the town and Suzanne. Whover gets the Senator’s room is in for a treat with the shower stall. I’m jealous that you will be having a houseful of LIW fans when you’re there! Last fall we met a family who were going to Stowe, VT, just ahead of us, so that was a neat new friendship. We ran into them again at the Trapp Family Lodge – another WmTAnderson passion topic. We loved being there in August one year when the Franklin Co. Fair was in action. I kept looking for the mules and the biggest pumpkin.
    If you have the time, drive south through the Adirondacks toward Saranac Lake another classic Victorian town on a series of lakes.

    Mansfield – Sadly the Friendship House B&B is no longer. Mac and I flew into Springfield and stayed there once (on the east side of town closer to Mansfield), and we also combined a trip to Branson one time. I did not like camping at Lake of the Ozarks because it was just too dang hot and humid!

    Pepin – I’ve stayed at a B&B there and camped – both wonderful.


  11. Dakotagirl says:

    Susan, you are right about DQ. Here in the South, DQ has a Bliz Burger, not sure if the one in DS has them or not. They are good, especially with a chocolate shake.

    According to the De Smet newspaper, the country club restaurant has changed names. It is owned by a lady from Texas who relocated to De Smet. Not sure how the food will be now, but before it was very good.

    Has anyone stayed at the other BB in Malone. I believe it is Park House?

  12. […] Connie provided some fabulous insight regarding all her travels to the Little House sites – she may just be the most well traveled Laura Ingalls Wilder fan out there. Her comment is so full of useful travel nuggets that you all should just go and read it in its entirety. […]

  13. Dakotagirl says:

    You’re right Sandra. Connie is very special indeed and I am pleased to call her my LIW friend.

    I meant to respond to Connie’s comment about Friendship House. Sharon has pretty much turned it into a cat shelter. I stayed there a few years ago and the fleas were awful. I left after one night.

    I believe she has pretty much turned the rooms into a locals only boarding house like Neta and Silas had it originally.

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