My 8-year-old and I are huge fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books and decided to make the trip to see the home where they were written. I left my younger two at home with my husband and I'm glad I did - if you haven't read the books or aren't that interested in them, this would be a boring waste of a few hours. However, if you know the books, you'll see a lot of photos, letters and other articles that Mrs. Wilder wrote about in her series. Pa's fiddle, unpublished photographs, the bread plate that survived the fire, the name cards...it's all there in the museum and it's so cool!
A few things you should know:
*Mansfield is truly in the middle of nowhere. The Wilder home/museum do take credit cards, but most other businesses in town do NOT. Bring cash.
*The staff at the museum and home are very friendly, but they run this place differently than other historical sites or museums. There is no set schedule for tours of either of the homes or the movie that's shown. When a big enough crowd shows up, they start the movie and a tour. If there are *too* many people, they'll give you a (very informative) brochure and let you wander the homes yourself. - And the homes are very well preserved/beautiful to look at (Laura's rocking chair! Her writing desk! Even her glasses!); however, the museum, while well-organized, is a bit shabby. They are in need of funds to re-vamp the place.
*NO PHOTOGRAPHY of ANY KIND is allowed inside either of the homes, the museum or the gift shop. They do offer very nice postcards of everything from the interior of the homes to well-known Laura artifacts for .25 apiece in the gift shop - but don't go thinking you'll get a shot of yourself standing next to Pa's fiddle or one of Laura's dresses.
*No food is available here and there's not much around the area. Eat before you come or pack a snack. There are picnic tables across the street in the parking area where you can sit and eat. There are some restaurants in Mansfield (I have reviews!), but it's slim pickings.
*Plan on about an hour in the museum and another hour or two for the house tours.
*The walkway between Laura's house and the rock house was unusable when we where there on July 3. Visitors had to drive to see the rock house (very short distance).
*The sweet lady who runs the museum (I think her last name is Cody - wish I could remember) has MET Laura Ingalls Wilder! Be sure to ask her about Laura! She is usually the one sitting at the front desk taking admission fees and handing out brochures. :-)
*The staff members are very protective of the homes/museum and can come off as brusque; however, if you ask them questions or show an interest in the items/Laura's life, they light up and will talk your ear off. Approach them and ask questions - they love it. :)