25 Best Things to Do in Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS skyline
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Being home to the University of Kansas, Lawrence has long been known as an educational city.

However, Lawrence is an artistic city with so much more to offer.

The city has so many art galleries, shops, artistic streets, and shopping venues that you will definitely want to see and experience for yourself.

With more than 50 parks open to the public, along with famous museums, Lawrence is the city of anyone's dreams.

The following list comprises the best things to do in Lawrence, Kansas:

Visit the Famous Massachusetts Street

Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas
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Massachusetts Street is a very centrally located tourist attraction in downtown Lawrence.

Also known as Mass Street, it is quite famous as one of the most historically significant parts of the city.

The street was named by the New England Emigrant Aid Society, which started the city's foundation by bringing in settlers.

Aerial view of Massachusetts Street
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The street features antique architectural structures belonging to the Victorian and Neoclassical eras.

The entire street was designed between 1856 to 1953.

Specific parts of the street are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While you are on Massachusetts Street, be ready to spot a lot of beautiful shops, delicious food, and a unique brewery.

Peek into the Natural World at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum

Exterior of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum
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This natural history museum is located on the campus of the University of Kansas.

Part of the university's biodiversity institute, it is dedicated entirely to the study of the earth's biodiversity.

The museum comprises several galleries and a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A leopard displayed in University of Kansas Natural History Museum
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Inspired by an event that was held in Chicago in 1893, the museum was completed in the year 1903.

It is designed using the Roman style of architecture and has more than 350 exhibitions.

The museum also houses more than 10 million species and millions of artifacts.

The University of Kansas Natural History Museum is a very informative place in the city, and you cannot miss visiting this wonderful attraction.

An eagle displayed in University of Kansas Natural History Museum
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Step into History at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Exterior of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics
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How many cities in the world have an entire institute dedicated to politics?

The answer would be very few, and Lawrence is one of those few cities.

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics was established in the year 2003 by former senator US Senator Bob Dole, who was also a Republican presidential candidate in 1996.

Located on the campus of Kansas University, the institute covers a total area of 28,000 square feet.

It is not only the city's major venue for political events but also houses important documents from its founders.

The institute has hosted some famous and influential speakers, such as Bill Clinton, Bob Woodward, and Tom Brokaw.

It also has a vast collection of pictures from political history and its evolution.

The institute offers various programs and guided tours.

It is also open for private events and can be rented accordingly.

Go Back in Time at the Watkins Museum of History

Exterior of Watkins Historical Museum
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The Watkins Museum of History was opened in 1933 in the historic J.B. Land Mortgage Company and Watkins National Bank building.

The museum was built with the sole objective of protecting and preserving Douglas County's history.

It houses beautiful displays of artifacts belonging to the major movements that took place in the county.

Liberty canon displayed in Watkins Museum of History
The original uploader was Americasroof at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Like all other museums, this one also has temporary and permanent exhibitions.

While the permanent exhibition depicts important events such as the Vietnam War, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement, the temporary exhibitions majorly deal with how the city was settled and how it grew as a community.

The museum is quite beautiful and is a place for people who want to learn about the history of the city and its surrounding areas.

Catch a Live Performance at the Lied Center of Kansas

Exterior of Lied Centre of Kansas
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Another beautiful and famous tourist attraction on the campus of the University of Kansas is the Lied Center of Kansas.

It is a performing arts facility that was established in 1993.

The center is a perfect place for experiencing some good quality theatrical performances.

This is also a very popular attraction among couples on romantic getaways.

A concert in Lied Center of Kansas
Davinic, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lied Center of Kansas has two separate spaces.

First, there's the main auditorium, which has enough capacity to take in almost 2,000 people at a time.

It's a major venue for events such as drama performances, art performances, musical nights, concerts, and many more.

Second, there's the Pavilion, which has seats for 200 people.

The center also organizes various educational programs that promote the participation of school children in performing arts.

Go for a Leisurely Stroll around Prairie Park Nature Center

Lawrence's Prairie Park Nature Center was opened on Harper Street in 1999.

It is a nature reserve center that is spread over several different habitats around the city.

Within the center, there is a lake known as Mary's Lake.

The lake is ideal for fishing during the spring and summer months.

Lawrence's Prairie Park Nature Center is managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks.

It also has walking trails to enable visitors to take walks along the beautiful ecology of the center.

These walks also allow the visitors to spot the indigenous bird species.

The center is home to a variety of wildlife, such as deer, birds, beavers, bobcats, and many more.

It also has an educational building that houses natural dioramas and animals so that visitors can get an idea about the wildlife and how they are protected.

Surround Yourself with Purple Flowers at Washington Creek Lavender

Washington Creek Lavender looks like a hill covered with beautiful flowers.

However, it is actually a lavender farm managed and owned by a couple.

It is home to more than 6,000 lavender plants, some of them from different varieties.

The plants are quite fragrant and soak everything in their very pleasant smell.

Washington Creek Lavender's main highlight is that all the flowers and plants grown in this park are organically grown using traditional methods and hand-operated tools.

According to Kansas' official authorities, the farm is also one of Lawrence's agri-tour sites.

Washington Creek Lavender is open for visitors, and they are allowed to take walks along the rows of lavender plants.

Your visit will surely be tranquil and picture-perfect.

The farm also has a store where you can buy souvenirs and lavender-related products.

Washington Creek Lavender is a lovely attraction to add to your Lawrence itinerary.

Learn about the City's Athletic History at the Booth Family Hall of Athletics

Exterior of Booth Family Hall
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The Booth Family Hall of Athletics was established in 2006.

It is a museum that honors the University of Kansas' athletes and athletic programs.

The museum pays tribute to both past and present coaches and students from the university's athletic community.

The Booth Family Hall of Athletics is spread over an area of 19,335 square feet.

However, the hall was not so big when it was first established, and it was significantly expanded in 2009.

It is open to visitors all year round.

As a result, the hall is a very good place for people who want to peek into the city's athletic history.

The in-house gallery showcases the history of athletics in Kansas from 1879.

The hall also exhibits the great honors that the city has won, Olympian and Chamberlain trophies being among them.

Meanwhile, another gallery exhibits all the city's present teams.

Check Out the Vast Collection on Display at the Spencer Museum of Art

Exterior of Spencer museum of Art
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The Spencer Museum of Art was originally opened in 1928 with a basic collection of 7,500 objects donated by the University of Kansas and some of Lawrence's art collectors.

These artistic objects were donated with the objective of promoting and creating a greater appreciation for the fine arts in the city.

The museum underwent a big renovation in 2016.

Apart from the art collection, there are other displays that include paintings, sculptures, furniture, textiles, and many decorative pieces.

The museum's biggest collection was added in 2007 in the form of 9,500 ethnographic objects.

These objects were transferred by the former University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology.

In addition to the exhibitions, the museum also arranges various educational programs such as lectures, expert talks, film showcases, performances, and more.

Have Dinner and Dessert at The Roost

The Roost is one of the biggest and most famous restaurants in the city.

Located on Massachusetts Street, it is known for its simple yet delicious food.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and coffee and also has its own bakery.

The Roost also has its own bar, which is quite popular as they have a unique collection of imaginative cocktails and mocktails.

The food served at the eatery is quite inexpensive and is always freshly prepared.

Their in-house bakery serves cakes, brownies, cookies, and delicious pies.

The Roost is a great place to grab a bite in Lawrence.

Tour the University of Kansas Campus

Welcome sign of University of Kansas
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No trip to Lawrence can be deemed complete without a visit to the University of Kansas, which is located on Jayhawk Boulevard.

Established in 1865, it is the largest university in the entire state and has branches all around Kansas.

Aerial view of University of Kansas Campus' field
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It is quite famous for its medical facilities and its university hospital.

The university houses various schools, such as the schools of architecture, law, journalism, business, medicine, and engineering.

If you are visiting the campus, consider taking a professional tour, which is quite readily available.

A building at University of Kansas Campus
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Head to Free State Brewing Company for Beer and Bar Chow

Free State Brewing Company is known to be the first legal brewery in Kansas.

The brewing company was established in 1989 and currently has a 14-barrel production capacity.

It uses some of the best equipment for this purpose and prepares some of the best beers using authentic methods.

The brewery also has a brew pub where you can comfortably sit and enjoy beers from their extensive collection.

Along with the drinks, the place also serves delicious complimentary items such as chips and fish dishes.

Treat Your Palate to Authentic Tuscan Cuisine at 715 Restaurant

Located on the famous Massachusetts Street, 715 Restaurant is a renowned place in Lawrence that serves Tuscan cuisine.

It has an open kitchen and serves extremely delicious food.

The menu at 715 Restaurant is quite extensive, and they have a lot of famous items.

It also has a great wine menu with affordable options to choose from.

Visit Au Marché and Enjoy a Taste of Europe in Lawrence

For those of you who are not familiar with it, Lawrence is also a place to shop for aesthetic and artistic pieces.

Au Marché is a European market in the city.

The market has a lot of shops that offer German, Dutch, French, and Scandinavian items.

In addition, the market also has a number of eateries that serve authentic European food.

While in the market, you can shop for things such as home decor, personal care items, specially made ketchup and mayonnaise, chocolates, jams, jellies, clothing, and much more.

Au Marché has a very charming atmosphere, and you will definitely find something to take home from here.

To sum it up, there is nothing that you won't find in this market.

Take Photos with the Lovely Flowers at Grinter's Sunflower Farm

Lovely sunflowers in Grinter Farm
Carly Con / Shutterstock.com

Grinter's Sunflower Farm is located a few miles away from the city center but is definitely worth the drive.

The farm opens seasonally, during the summer and fall months.

It is a popular location because of its big and spacious fields filled with sunflowers.

Everyone is allowed to click pictures and take walks among these beautiful yellow flowers.

The entire field is covered with yellow and green colors, which will definitely give you a very summery and fresh vibe.

Have a Fun Family Day at Clinton State Park

A trail leading to Clinton State Park's overlook
Deanna Laing / Shutterstock.com

Clinton State Park may be found around 6.4 kilometers west of Lawrence's central area.

The 1,500-acre park on the north bank of Clinton Lake is well-known for the variety of outdoor activities it offers.

The park is popular with various visitors, including wildlife observers, birdwatchers, photographers, and cross-country skiers.

Scenic view of Clinton State Park
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The nearby 9,200-acre wildlife park has a bike and hiking track that links to it.

You'll find bald eagles, white-tailed deer, ducks, songbirds, and even wild turkeys in the park.

The lake's beautiful water and fishes make it a popular destination for anglers.

Discover the Region's Past at the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum

The Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum displays tell the narrative of how Clinton Lake came to be.

It also exhibits the influence the lake had on the local population.

However, a dam on the Wakarusa River, which would create Clinton Lake, would entail the relocation of generations of people who had lived and worked on the land for decades.

A group called the Clinton Lake Landowners Association was created to try to keep some of the area's historic homes from being torn down.

Clinton Lake's impact on the lives of the family who lived there eventually led to the development of a whole new museum.

Phoenix Gallery was established over two decades ago.

This modest gallery proudly displays the work of local and visiting artists.

The historic downtown district has served as the gallery's home for the last several years.

It's the perfect setting for the gallery, featuring a wide variety of artwork, including woodwork, ceramics, sculpture, and textiles.

Participate in Phoenix Gallery activities like the Final Friday Art Walk or in philanthropic events and exhibits presented by the curators.

Play Bowling with Your Pals at Royal Crest Lanes

Are you traveling to Lawrence with your friends or family?

Check out Royal Crest Lanes, a neighborhood bowling alley.

Royal Crest Lanes has something for everyone, with 40 bowling lanes and an arcade full of today's top arcade games.

It regularly provides a variety of leisure and competitive bowling activities.

Additionally, visitors looking to see their favorite sports events may walk over to Wayne and Larry's Sports Bar and Grill, known for its wide array of high-definition TVs and six 95-inch projection screens.

Solve Mysteries at Breakout Lawrence

Escape room Breakout Lawrence is located in the center of the city's downtown district and is open seven days a week.

It's the ideal location for visitors who want to unite and make lasting memories and colleagues who wish to better their collaboration and mutual understanding.

Breakout Lawrence's room is perfect for parties of two to eight players, with five themed rooms to choose from.

Defeat the Queen of Hearts before she finds you in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, or get out of an enemy bunker before the enemy returns in Civil War.

At midnight, the Y2K virus threatens to shut down all computers worldwide.

At the same time, Paranormal Pandemonium is a mobile escape room that can be leased by groups of five and is ideal for parties.

Catch a Basketball Game at Allen Fieldhouse

Signage of Allen Fieldhouse
Chad Robertson Media / Shutterstock.com

Nestled on the campus of the University of Kansas, Allen Fieldhouse is home to the Kansas Jayhawks basketball teams.

It was named for former player and head coach of the Jayhawks, Phog Allen, who served the team for 39 years.

The arena has hosted almost 40 NCAA Tournaments, NBA exhibition games, as well as concerts and events, and can seat up to 16,000 people.

Front view of Allen Fieldhouse's exterior
Janis Schwartz / Shutterstock.com

It was also named the loudest college basketball stadium in the U.S. by ESPN The Magazine and even entered the Guinness World Record for the loudest roar in 2017.

So if you love basketball, Allen Fieldhouse is your place in Lawrence!

Interior of Allen Fieldhouse
Ryan Schreiber, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Read a Book at Lawrence Public Library

Exterior of the Lawrence Public Library
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An hour or two of a quiet reading session with a new book comes in handy at Lawrence Public Library on Vermont Street.

With its wide selection of resources for reading, research, and study, it's certain that you'll have your time off at the library at its comfortable reading nooks.

Kids, teens, and adults can choose from the library's great selection of books in many different genres.

There are audiobooks, movies & TV, music, e-books, video games, and many more.

Lawrence Public Library also hosts programs and events for all ages.

Take a Picnic to Overlook Park

Picnics are always memorable and fun to share with loved ones, especially during your travels, and Lawrence doesn't disappoint!

While in the city, you can bring a picnic to Overlook Park, which features covered picnic areas with benches and tables to use for lunch or snacks.

There are also grills to use for barbecues or cookouts, especially during the summer months.

Overlook Park is accessible to the trail, where you can take scenic walks.

It's also overlooking Clinton Lake; an amazing scenery while enjoying a delicious meal!

Get Your Caffeine Fix at J&S Coffee

Freshly roasted coffee is what everyone needs, which is what J&S Coffee does best!

The coffeehouse roasts its own beans in-house, featuring 10 different coffee beans from known coffee producers in the world.

Try its signature espresso, artisanal coffee, and delicious pastries like scones, muffins, and more.

All these are served in an inviting atmosphere with warm smiles from the crew and the owner, which makes everyone want to stay longer.

Come by J&S Coffee and enjoy a cup of your favorite coffee!

You can find it at West 6th Street.

Buy Gifts and Souvenirs at The Third Planet

Grab some unique finds for gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones back home at The Third Planet on Massachusetts Street.

It's a quaint hippie gift shop featuring unique crafts, jewelry, crystals, clothing, stones, home decor, collectibles, incense, and more.

Lots of local merch is also displayed here, which is a great way for visitors to support local artists and crafters.

The Third Planet has a little bit of everything for anyone visiting, especially tourists who want to get their loved ones something unique and special.

Drop by the gift shop and make sure to also get a beautiful purchase for yourself!

Final Thoughts

Lawrence is a great place to shop and dine, with a historic downtown and some of the top restaurants in the Midwest.

When it comes to Lawrence, it's hard to think of a better place to spend a weekend than the city's historic district.

Moreover, with its culturally rich vibe and warm-hearted people, the city is just as beautiful as its sunflower fields.

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