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Travel

Soak Up the Quaint Charm of Lawrence, Kansas

Lawrence’s historic downtown, foodie-friendly dining and artsy vibes are worth a stop.

By Sony Hocklander

Oct 2018

a woman runs and a man bikes along the river
Photo courtesy eXplore LawrenceTake in the views and enjoy the fresh air along Lawrence's river trails.

Stroll

Mass Street—Massachusetts, that is—is the place to start your visit with shopping, dining, music, arts and historic ambiance. Park between 11th and Sixth streets to wander through galleries, flea markets, boutiques, book stores and much more. While you're meandering around, be sure to pop into Wonder Fair (841 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-856-3247; wonderfair.com), a shop featuring artists and makers. An abundance of flea markets and antiques wait for you along Mass Street, including Lawrence Antique Mall (830 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-842-1328; facebook.com/lawrenceantiquemall). More eclectic shops can be found north of downtown and the Kansas River along Locust Street,. For a true treasure hunt, stop by The Art House (700 Locust St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-813-1738; facebook.com/thearthouselawrenceks). Be sure to venture back to Mass Street the first weekend in December to attend the festive Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade (lawrencechristmasparade.org) and holiday extravaganza, or watch as the local fire department rescues Santa on November 23 as part of the downtown lighting ceremony.

A hot dog covered in veggies and mustard with fries on the side
Photo courtesy The Burger StandThe Burger Stand at the Casbah offers hot dogs that are a must-have; also order their gourmet burgers.

Taste 

Please your palate with craft brew houses and homemade eats including award-winning beef and veggie burgers at The Burger Stand at the Casbah (803 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-856-0543; burgerstandrestaurants.com). Try the hand-breaded pickles! Another must is the 14-barrel Free State Brewing Company (636 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-843-4555; freestatebrewing.com) serving American fare. For fresh fish, chowders and shareables, try Mass Street Fish House and Raw Bar (719 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 685-856-1081; massfishhouse.com).

angled view of the front of The Oread hotel
The Oread a unique spot to settle in for the night. It's located right beside the University of Kansas campus
aerial view of KU's college campus
Photo courtesy eXplore LawrenceVisit the KU campus to enjoy the architectural sights and perhaps enjoy a game.

Experience

Art is part of Lawrence’s lifeblood. In addition to small galleries, public art and university museums and theaters, the Lawrence Arts Center (940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-843-2787; lawrenceartscenter.org) is a downtown hub for both visual and performing arts. For live music, check out Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-749-7676; replaylounge.com). The Granada (1020 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-842-1390; thegranada.com) is the place to go for touring and local groups and the outdoor Mass Street Live. Historic Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-749-1972; libertyhall.net) is a century-old opera house that hosts live music and art films. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can walk or bike trails less than 5 miles from town at Clinton State Park (798 N. 1415 Road, Lawrence, Kansas; 785-842-8562; ksoutdoors.com). For beautiful autumn views in town, visit the rolling, wooded campus of KU (1450 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, Kansas; 785-864-2700; ku.edu). Just leave the tiger stripes at home. 

Getting There
Lawrence, Kansas, is about 40 minutes west of Kansas City. From Springfield, the drive is roughly 3 1/2 hours. Head to Kansas City and take I-435 West, to connect with Kansas 10 into Lawrence.

How Long to Stay
Overnight or as a day trip while visiting Kansas City

What to Pack
Bring an extra travel bag for hauling home your shopping finds and Kansas craft beers.