The Village of Pepin, on the shore of Lake Pepin, is reached by drive along Wisconsin’s only nationally designated scenic byway, the Great River Road. The lake is known for its excellent sailing and fishing and the Village of Pepin is known as a dining destination and as the birthplace of celebrated children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder.
For those who come for the water, the village has a public boat landing with a nearby fish cleaning station, a public beach, sailing excursions and a marina with 150 slips and transient docking.
Dining options include fine dining and casual, indoor and outdoor seating, and lake and garden views. A variety of shops offer original hand-made work by local craftspeople, garden plants, clothing and hardware.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society runs a museum in the center of town with information about the author and artifacts from Pepin’s pioneer past. The society also built and maintains the Little House Wayside in Pepin Township at the site of the author’s birth in 1867. The wayside is on land that belonged to the Ingalls family which was the setting for Wilder’s first book, Little House in the Big Woods. Laura Ingalls Wilder Days is an annual event in Pepin on the second full weekend in September.
Overnight accommodations in the village include modern motels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and a full service campground.
The lake was named for brothers with the last name Pepin, French voyageurs who came to the area with the explorer Duluth in 1680. Lake Pepin, a wide stretch of the Mississippi, has a long history of travel and trade. The village was founded in the 1850s and in its earliest days included inns and lodges for tourists who were drawn to the lake for its boating and fishing. Visitors to Pepin often wonder why Charles Ingalls, the father of the author Laura Ingalls Wilder, took his family away from such a lovely area.
Pepin is located 70 miles south of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, 50 miles northeast of Rochester, 60 miles north of LaCrosse and 45 miles southwest of Eau Claire.