The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum: A Little House in the Big Woods Adventure

laura ingalls cabin

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If you’re a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, you’ll definitely want to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Wisconsin! This charming museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Laura and her family. You can explore the authentic Little House in the Big Woods that Laura and her family lived in, as well as learn about their lives and work. The Museum is a great place for families to visit, and there’s plenty for kids to see and do!

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum: A Little House in the Big Woods Adventure

Before I go on…

Let me say that I understand the controversy over her books and depictions of people of color. History was very “white-washed” for me in our public school system in the 70s and 80s. While some see people attempting to rewrite history, I see it as a colorization.

Stories from the other point of view are now being told – and the potential for incredible dialog and learning moments are available. Just as I talked about our experience at the American Black Holocaust Museum of Milwaukee. Use these opportunities to start conversations. Going forward, we can all do better, BE better.

These books are almost 100 years old – from someone who grew up in a very different time. NOW, we can look back and see the other side of the westward expansion – but they didn’t have the resources to do that back then. Let’s celebrate the colorization of history and realize these books for what they are: the stories of a little girl, going through a unique experience, in an incredibly challenging time.

100 years later, we can fill in the rest of the story and teach our kids that going forward.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Books

Let’s face it, this is where we all fell in love with Laura, her family, and their adventures. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote nine books, the first being Little House in the Big Woods. This book was published in 1932 and is still a favorite among Laura fans today. If you’re visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, you can purchase copies of Laura’s books in the museum gift shop.

Do you remember children’s “Little House on the Prairie” book series? If you do, the author is one of the first things to come to your mind, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder. This amazing woman was born on February 7th, 1867, and she grew up as a woman of character, history, and class.

The book series, which she produced and published between 1932 and 1943, was linked to her childhood days growing up in a pioneer-type family. Wilder, throughout her life, became the inspiration on which the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum was erected. It features a rich history of the writer’s life and happenings during her years with us. The collections found in the museum tell the story of what life was like in that era.

Life of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Laura’s family moved around quite a bit during her childhood, but Pepin was always considered her home. That is why the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum was erected under the guidance of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Inc, which was first formed in July 1974.

The idea of having a museum was accepted by the wider business community and other stakeholders who pitched in and lobbied to gain space and resources for the project. The land was acquired (three acres), located in the same region as Wilder’s birthplace.

Ingalls museum sign

The museum, since its erection, has been the central spot for many people eager to learn about the writer’s history and life in those early years. You can visit the museum daily anytime from mid-May through to mid-October.

If you have ever heard of “The Great River Road,” then you know the place to find this feature-filled history house. The museum sits along 306 3rd Street or State Hwy 35.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway

With the illustrious history of the life and legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin, the area became part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway. This road has a path from South Dakota thru Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

LIttle House Wayside marker

Touring the History Grounds

You need to know that the cabin and the museum with gift shop are not in the same location. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Cabin is located in one part of Pepin, while the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum is located along the main business street.

Making plans to visit the museum will never be complete unless you visit “Laura’s Little House,” which sits on the premises she was born and raised. This is often referred to as “Little House Wayside.”

The Pepin community built the log-style house through contributions and donations from the corporate world. It is open to tours all year round (self-guided tours). Still, it is just a replica of the original house. The structure has no light or water connection as this house was based on Ingalls-Wilder’s first book, “Little House in the Big Woods.”

Little Hosue cabin

If reading the book had you visualizing what the house must have looked like, then visiting will bring it to like before your very eyes. The cabin sits unfurnished but boasts a fireplace, a loft, two bedrooms, and an information center where you can find all the information you need about Laura and her family. Kept in great condition, the location also houses picnic tables and restrooms in case you want to step away from the busy city life for a while and bask in the beauty of nature.

This is free to enter and check out. It really makes you feel like the Ingalls had you over for a visit if you plan to bring a picnic and enjoy a little time outdoors.

Pro Tip: Make sure you read the historical plaque.

laura ingalls cabin

Mind Relaxing Tours and Exhibits

After seeing “Little House Wayside,” it is time to visit the museum. The museum features a lot of replicas of the Ingalls’ lives as the rooms are transformed into the era they lived in. One of the rooms has a dress on display that had been worn by Mary, who was also Laura’s teacher.

Laura Ingalls family living room

Also, you will experience one of the bedrooms with a trundle bed (like it belonged to Carrie) and hay that Laura and her father seemingly twisted while they stayed in during the winter months. It helps bring the stories you read to life.

On the other side of the gift shop is a Time Capsule Museum that shows what it was like in the area when the Ingalls lived there and how it has changed through the years.

little ingalls timewarp

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Gift Shop

There is a surprisingly large gift shop here – much more than what you would expect to see! From prairie-style dresses and bonnets down to Christmas ornaments, there is something for everyone. You can even finish your book collection with items from Laura, her daughter Rose, and other authors who write about that period.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Gift Shop

Other Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Locations to visit:

With the collection of things to see and do in Pepin, you could also experience other amazing spots such as:

Laura Ingalls Historic Homes & Discovery Center – De Smet, South Dakota

Reading her books will tell you about a lot of the buildings and spots in the area she lived in. To date, a lot of those structures are still standing like “The Surveyor’s House,” and even though Laura never lived in this house, a lot of exhibits still exist from their early life.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum – Mansfield Missouri

This place is the hometown of her beloved “Rocky Ridge Farm,” which is the larger memorabilia location for most of Ingalls-Wilder’s historical possessions. If you are a huge fan of her books, then this location needs to be on your “must-see” spots.

*Independence, Kansas also has a rich history of Ingalls-Wilder as her family moved and settled in this town in 1869. Interestingly, it is the inspiration that led to the series “Little House on the Prairie” and is open for tours outside of the winter seasons.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Gift Shop
There are so many gems from the time of their adventures to look and and learn about

Fun Facts About Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Did you know Laura was more than just an author? Well, she was also in the Delano family line, which later came through her being related to former U.S. President Delano Roosevelt.
  • Ingalls-Wilder was a third Cousin of President Ulysses S. Grant.
  • She was the second of five children for her parents who loved a “free-life” backed by nature.
  • Laura Ingalls got married pretty early to her husband Almanzo Wilder at age 18 and had her first child by 1886.

The Living Line of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Interestingly, Laura and her husband had two children Rose and a son, who died of health complications 12 days after birth – even before he was named. As life went on, they didn’t have it easy from losing their life earning in a mysterious fire (house and farmland) to moving in with Wilder’s parents.

They later traveled to other parts of the country but, before long, moved back to Wisconsin, where they started life all over again. Slowly but surely, they made it back on track with help from their parents and their skills in farming. The rich history we experience today on the grounds of the Ingalls’ birth land is much more than we can imagine.

Field of Flowers North Farm
Click on the picture to check it out

It has come a far way, and in the little cabins on the property, historians have captured so much. Laura’s family line may be living through cousins, and other distant family members as her only daughter gave birth to a stillborn child while her sisters didn’t have any children of their own. Sadly, the results for the childlessness came as a result of developing health issues they had.

Fun Spots Near Ingalls-Wilder Museum

  • Villa Bellezza – Are you a wine lover and feel the need to complete your history with a sip? Then the Villa Bellezza wine/distillery is not more than 1.90 km away.
  • Lake Pepin Golf Course – Take the family on a fun trip to the Lake Pepin Golf Course (average 5.5km away) and enjoy some bonding and laughter with each other.
  • Breakwater Wine Bar – Chill with your friends and family at the Breakwater Wine Bar and relax in the ambiance of fresh, relaxing, and soothing music. It is an average of 0.14 miles away.
  • Furthermore, the beautiful backdrop of nature during your drive to these locations is more than breathtaking. 

If you love Laura Ingalls Wilder, history, or just want to explore an amazing museum, be sure to add the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum to your list!

Lauran Ingalls Quilt
This is a quilt that was actually in her home

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