The small town that launched a renown author can launch you into the Ozarks.
Most famous as the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mansfield brings visitors from all over the world to this tiny Missouri town to see where the author wrote the famed Little House on the Prairie books. Visitors can see several locations and tour museums related to Wilder’s life, or they can enjoy the peace and serenity of the rolling farmland and woodlands of the Ozarks. The proud small town preserves history and offers up home cookin’ at local restaurants. A couple of private RV parks and glamping rentals can be found in and near town, but venturing to larger cities in the vicinity will open up more opportunities.
Named for another Missouri author, Mark Twain National Forest covers 1.5 million acres in Missouri, and large sections can be explored south of Mansfield in the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs District. Oak and pine forests, wide-open glades, rollicking hills, and rambling springs greet visitors to this slice of the Ozark Mountains. Dispersed campsites and dry camping can be enjoyed in this scenic environment. Public camping can also be found at conservation areas near the town of Ava.
Known as the “Queen City of the Ozarks,” Springfield is the largest city in southwest Missouri. It celebrates its Route 66 history, local colleges, and role as the birthplace of Bass Pro Shops. The original store and the attached Wonders of Wildlife Museum are major attractions. Numerous private RV parks can be found, offering amenities such as free wifi and full hookups. Cabin and glamping rentals dot the surrounding region.
One of Missouri’s biggest tourism draws is the town of Branson, which offers a lively mix of theme parks, family attractions, live music shows, and over-the-top museums. While the town’s main strip resembles a mini Las Vegas, the campgrounds are surprisingly scenic. Private RV parks abound, adding to the family fun and offering free wifi and full hookups, with campsites under a canopy of trees. Venture outside of town to find scenery and serenity, with public camping offered on the shores of Table Rock Lake at state park and Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds.
If you’re visiting Mansfield to explore all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, September’s Wilder Days festival is a must. If you’re not into Wilder, this might be a time to avoid the town, as it attracts more visitors than usual. Though much of the area can be a year-round destination, visitors should note that summer is generally hot and humid and winter can be cold and snowy. Fall and spring usually offer mild weather and changing scenery.