Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in De Smet, SD

  • Published 2022/09/07

The city of De Smet, South Dakota, also has the moniker “Little Town on the Prairie.”

As the Little House novels by renowned author Laura Ingalls Wilder grew in popularity, the city has also followed suit.

However, its roots go back to Pierre-Jean de Smet, a Belgian Jesuit missionary known for his courage and charity.

De Smet is rich in agriculture and historical spots.

Today, it’s a scenic place to bring your childhood fantasies to life.

Going around De Smet can make you feel nostalgic if you’ve ever watched the series inspired by the city and its charm.

To keep your trip wholesome, here’s a list of the best things to do in De Smet, SD, that might help with your planning:

View the Exhibition Room at Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes

School at Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes

Winkelvi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While Laura Ingalls Wilder has long passed, her legacy continues to influence De Smet.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes allow you to take a closer look into the life and culture of the famous author.

With the help of the Memorial Society named after her, historic buildings related to her and her works saw restoration.

These homes consist of Wilder’s family home, a replica model of her school, and an exhibition room full of her artifacts.

Surveyor's house at Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes

Jacob Boomsma /

Explore the places she’s talked about in her books, including the Original Surveyors’ House.

Learn more about the 1950s illustrations of Garth Williams, who also made the artwork for Wilder’s Little House books.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes are on Olivet Avenue, should you want to visit it.

The house that pa built at Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes

Winkelvi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the Wildlife Display at De Smet Depot Museum

De Smet Depot Museum features a collection of vintage objects and antiques.

Built in 1906, this historical landmark was also a prominent tourist attraction for those wanting to see the railroads.

This was because the Chicago Northwestern Railroad Company once owned the land in 1881 before it became a museum housing many ancient things.

These items include ballroom clothing, children’s toys, and Native American and military artifacts.

In its glass displays are other ornaments and equipment used back in the day.

You’ll find wildlife displays along the walls, including wolf, deer, and peacock animal replicas.

The De Smet Depot Museum is on Calumet Avenue, across from the Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library.

Ride a Wagon at Ingalls Homestead

Aerial view of a wagon at Ingalls Homestead

Jacob Boomsma /

Known as Laura’s Living Prairie, Ingalls Homestead is a tribute to Laura Ingall Wilder’s days at De Smet, South Dakota.

Like those settlers back in the 1880s, the Ingalls family eventually found a home in Dakota Territory in this homestead.

A few years later, Laura’s father, Charles, built a hut on the site, where his family would stay every year except during winter.

If you visit this remarkable place, you’ll find tons of activities based on and inspired by the Little House books.

Aerial view of Ingalls Homestead

Jacob Boomsma /

Discover hay twisting and wheat grinding as told in The Long Winter, or explore the fields through a covered wagon ride.

Your kids can also learn about the art of making jump ropes and washing clothes traditionally, as depicted in Laura’s works.

Ingalls Homestead is right along Homestead Road.

Stay in the Japanese Garden Room at Prairie House Manor

Book a room at Prairie House Manor to get started for your Victorian-inspired getaway.

This bed and breakfast on Highway 25 is the ideal stop for historical and cultural accommodations.

Officially opened in 1990, its past goes back to a man named Thomas Hudson Ruth, who owned this manor in 1880.

By 1989, the place underwent renovations and is now the lodging manor it continues to be today.

Take your pick from the variety of guest rooms at the Prairie House Manor.

The Rose Garden Room is a pink-motif room ideal for romantic couples.

On the other hand, the Japanese Garden Room takes you on a temporary exploration of modern Japanese design.

Are you eady to reserve these rooms at the Prairie House Manor?

Watch a Show at Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant

Join the De Smet community in celebrating a significant tradition with a visit to the theater on the prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant.

This event space holds annual commemorations of Laura Ingalls’ legacy and De Smet’s early days.

Step into Ingalls’ stories through a panoramic view of cottonwood trees in the area to make your history experience even more memorable.

Feel the music move you during a memorable performance.

This outdoor venue also hosts children’s shows and Sunday services for everyone.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is on Rose Lane.

Shop for Souvenirs at the Loftus Store

The Loftus Store has everything you need for a souvenir to bring home after an adventure-filled day in De Smet.

Daniel Henry Loftus, the first owner of this historic store, owned the Loftus Store way before it started selling merchandise.

Now, this shop has everything you might need to remember this city.

You can never go wrong with a single purchase, from books, clothing, and even mugs, at the Calumet Avenue shop.

If you want, you can buy fun memorabilia mentioned or used in the Little House books.

Go through framed artwork, ornaments for special occasions, and even wagon night lights!

You can also find exclusive Laura Ingalls Wilder goods you won’t find elsewhere.

Browse the Special Collections at Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library

Don’t miss the Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library, situated on 1st Street, if you’re up for some city research in De Smet.

This public library gives you access to a great selection of books, DVDs, and CDs.

However, its special collections make this library stand out as both a place of knowledge and a venue for nostalgia.

Get your hands on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books with illustrations and share them with your little one.

Admire the Harvey Dunn paintings on the library’s walls.

Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library is a site worth visiting for sure!

Admire the Flowers at Rose Vincent Memorial Park

On Northern De Smet, west of Highway 25, you’ll come across Rose Vincent Memorial Park.

This community park offers a peaceful retreat from city life with a serene landscape of forests and gardens.

Growing deeper into the park is the playground pen for your energetic little ones.

Athletic venues, like a basketball court and a disc golf course, might interest you.

Make your family time more meaningful with a shared picnic snack at the park’s tables and benches.

Lastly, take the time to snap a photo with the perennial and annual flowers surrounding Rose Vincent Memorial Park.

It’s all fun and games at this quiet neighborhood play park.

Set up a Camping Tent at Washington Park

Washington Park is the largest park in De Smet, and you can visit this place on Third Street.

Besides the usual playground equipment, the site has amenities ideal for your camping desires.

With two picnic shelters and a Father De Smet statue, it never lacks in recreational activities for tourists.

If you’re the camping type, bring your tent or an RV.

Site facilities include a bathhouse, a sand volleyball court, and other camping equipment.

You can also use water and electricity overnight.

Experience primitive camping with a dash of modernity when you set up camp at Washington Park.

Take Swimming Lessons at the De Smet Swimming Pool

Do you have time in your schedule for a swimming lesson?

You and your family can enjoy a splashing time at the De Smet Swimming Pool on Loftus Avenue.

Each swimming trainee has a different schedule, so everyone can have enough time to work on their skills.

Work on your strokes and dives with friendly trainers onsite.

Lifeguards are always on alert to keep you safe on the water.

Bring your child and turn this into a family bonding opportunity you both can treasure.

Don’t forget to purchase your pool pass when you come by the De Smet Swimming Pool!

Book a Golf Game at Kingsbury County Country Club

Would you like to practice or flex your golf skills?

Kingsbury County Country Club has everything you need.

This golf course on 7th Street offers a nine-hole layout with mild to challenging obstacles.

Play with a friend or a loved one and enjoy the slope of the lawn.

You can even visit during designated nights of the week for planned leagues.

Chill in the clubhouse with a refreshment or snack.

Take a break from the heat and immersive play on the course.

Are you all set?

Tee up!

Join a Pheasant Hunt at Aurora Pheasant Hunts

Why don’t you join a pheasant hunt to add uniqueness to your De Smet trip?

Experience hands-on pheasant hunting on 2nd Street at the Aurora Pheasant Hunts.

You can choose from many hunting packages, ideal for families and friend groups.

This place will let you practice your instinctual hunting out in the wild.

If you’re relatively new to this outdoor activity, you can join guided hunts with expert hunters.

Likewise, this all-inclusive hunt includes a guide, a dog to help support your pursuit, hunting land access, and meals.

Practice your wildlife skills at Aurora Pheasant Hunts, where your South Dakota hunting dreams come to life.

Enjoy Rustic Accommodations at Plum Creek Lodge

What started as a house in the wilderness has become the retreat home called Plum Creek Lodge.

This 60s ranch-style house accommodates 16 in a four-bedroom facility.

With recent developments, a new lodge came to fruition with three bedrooms and a combined living room and kitchen area.

Plum Creek Lodge’s furniture and upholstery make it an exciting lodging choice.

Lay back and relax among bunk beds and rustic decor and paintings.

This space is a go-to retirement spot after a day of hunting and exploring De Smet.

This lodge stands on 434th Avenue amid vast natural fields.

Other Things to Do Nearby

If you’ve already gone through each spot in the list above, De Smet and its surrounding area have more to offer.

Below are some of the best stops near the city.

Study the Birds at Lake Thompson Recreation Area

Eleven minutes from De Smet, in the neighboring city of Lake Preston, South Dakota, is Lake Thompson Recreation Area.

This park on Flood Club Road offers a wide range of camping, recreation, and lodging amenities.

Once named Dry Woods Lake, this park center got its current name from Jacob Thompson, Secretary of the Interior.

The lake is also a National Natural Landmark.

You can enjoy activities like fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching.

Multi-trails also circle Lake Thompson Recreation Area and athletic courts so you can practice your moves and sports skills.

Buy a Mini Bunny Lop at Mini Lops of South Dakota

A 21-minute drive north from De Smet to Bryant, South Dakota, can lead you to Mini Lops of South Dakota.

This pet shop on Main Avenue offers a pet barn and cute bunny lops for sale.

On the prairie, this shop prides itself on caring for bunny lops from birth until maturity.

If you’ve got a bunny lop and want to go elsewhere, you can check them in at the shop.

Get some tips and advice from the staff there on bunny care and grooming.

Adopt your new furry friend at Mini Lops of South Dakota!

Final Thoughts

De Smet is a vibrant city that continues to honor its heritage and history, which is also one of its irresistible charms.

While most of the town’s attractions pay tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, the city also has other must-see spots for the adventurous and daring.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in De Smet, South Dakota!

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