Day 1 You'll See:
- Sauk Centre
- F. Scott Fitzgerald Home
- Fitzgerald Theater
Day 2 You'll See:
- Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway
- New Ulm
Day 3 You'll See:
- Wanda Gag Home
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway
This Midwestern junket lets you and your student group visit the homes and stomping grounds of renowned American authors, including Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Laura Ingalls-Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame. Follow in their footsteps as you discover the faces, spaces, places and culture that inspired some of their greatest works!
You’ll kick off your fantastic three-day literary sojourn in Sauk Centre, birthplace of the first American Nobel Prize winning author Sinclair Lewis. Stop by the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Museum, tour his perfectly restored boyhood home and see for yourself how the area must have inspired the writer to pen his 1920 novel "Main Street". Be sure to visit the Carnegie Library - which also houses the Sauk Centre Historical Society Museum - and explore the diversity of shops, restaurants and historic attractions strung along “The Authentic Main Street” and scattered about this charming area in the heart of Minnesota. Check out the Stockade Marker, the notoriously haunted Parker House Hotel and the Viking Altar Rock; the Lake Wobegon Trail and Sauk River both wend their way through this true storybook town and first-rate outdoor recreational opportunities - including biking, hiking, snowmobiling and fishing – abound. How will this Sauk Centre expedition inspire the fledgling wordsmiths in your group?
F. Scott Fitzgerald Home
You and your young charges will truly enjoy a tour of the distinctive F. Scott Fitzgerald House, also known as Summit Terrace, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, described as "A brownstone row house that leaves no Victorian style unaccounted for, although the general flavor is Romanesque Revival." This National Historic Landmark is the place Fitzgerald rewrote the manuscript that became his first novel, “This Side of Paradise”.
Fitzgerald Theater (General Production)
After a busy day exploring, grab a wholesome bite, then settle in for an evening of wonderful live entertainment at Fitzgerald Theater, Minnesota Public Radio’s largest broadcast studio with airwaves featuring “A Prairie Home Companion” reaching millions of fans. Its brilliant and intellectually stimulating staged productions have drawn delighted guests to the 1000 seat “Fitz” for over a century!
Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway (Betsy-Tacy)
Day two of your literary lark begins with a trot down memory lane to the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway attraction featuring the restored childhood homes of Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980), author of the famed children’s series of Betsy-Tacy books and real-life character “Betsy” and her best friend, Frances 'Bick' Kenney – “Tacy.” The books are historical fiction based on her memories of growing up in Mankato, the fictionalized “Deep Valley” in her writings. The Betsy -Tacy Society has spent the past decade preserving and showcasing the legacy of both the author and her books by lovingly maintaining both homes and are proud to keep them open to the public as National Literary Landmarks along the Byway. Around town you’ll find other landmarks and places of interest featured in the series across the years, including the Center Street Bench, Tib’s House and Lincoln and Sibley Parks.
The City of New Ulm promises to surprise and delight you with its tradition of old-school Midwestern charm and hospitality set against a beautiful backdrop of lush farmland, verdant rolling hills, and thriving vineyards. A definite must-see while wandering the Polka Capitol of the Nation is the 45-foot tall Glockenspiel in Shonlau Park; the magical, musical clock’s 37 bells chime all throughout the day, and a dozen charming figurines depicting characters from the city’s colorful history whirl on its rotating stage during delightful performances at noon, three and five pm. Stop by the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, browse Domeier’s German Store, check out the Harkin Store Historic Site, explore the three-story Brown County Historical Museum and the River Region History and Info Center and visit the stately 1887 Queen Anne-style home of John Lind, the 14th Governor of Minnesota and the first Swedish-born American to serve in the U.S. Congress. Be sure to climb the spiral staircase to the top of the magnificent Hermann Monument, where you’ll meet 32-foot “Herman the German” and enjoy unsurpassed views of the scenic river valley.
Wanda Gag Home
Rise and shine, sleepyheads! Day three, and you and your group are heading out to the childhood home of Wanda Gag, beloved author of the still-popular children’s book “Millions of Cats.” The Gag family hailed from the country of Bohemia and enjoyed a notoriously unconventional lifestyle; patriarch Anton incorporated his own special artistic touches into the decor of the Queen Anne-style structure, such as faux-woodwork and hand-stenciled wall borders, and set up his own art studio upstairs beneath a skylight. "What Papa couldn't do, Wanda will have to finish" were the dying words of Wanda Gág's father, stricken with tuberculosis, to his eldest child. Shortly after his passing, her mother also fell ill, and young Wanda - left to support her large family - went on to national fame with her series of books and artworks, many of which are showcased today in prestigious museums around the world. The restored family home – now the Wanda Gág House Interpretive Center and Museum - is dedicated to the artistic legacy of Wanda Gág and her family and houses a series of exhibits featuring their works of art and writings as well as a delightful gift shop.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway
Time for a little drive on the prairie! The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway is an aptly named highway connecting popular historic areas relevant to the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder, beloved and acclaimed author of the autobiographical Little House on the Prairie series of children’s books. The road extends from Lake Benton in southwest Minnesota into South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin; along the way, exciting and heartwarming landmark attractions and a series of special events - including the nightly Wilder Pageant production in July - map the journey Laura and her family took as they pioneered the Midwest. See the Ingalls Family dugout site on Plum Creek and learn exciting facts about their time spent in Walnut Grove as you explore the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum featuring collections of authentic and relevant artifacts housed in a series of eight interesting structures as well as displays showcasing plentiful memorabilia from the long running favorite TV series, Little House on the Prairie. Don’t forget to drop by the gift shop for that perfect “Little House” souvenir!