It’s no secret that I love an offbeat Midwest destination. Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual press trip with eXplore Lawrence where I learned about all the incredible things this Kansas community has to offer. And let me tell you—Lawrence, Kansas is so much more than a college town.
Home to the University of Kansas as well as Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence is located about an hour west of Kansas City. The city was founded in the 1850s to help establish Kansas as a free state in the years leading up to the Civil War. Today, the city’s main thoroughfare is called Massachusetts Street (or Mass” for short) in honor of the Massachusetts donors and immigrants who helped the community get its start.
From incredible eateries and history-making breweries to a vibrant arts and culture scene, there are lots of reasons to fall in love with Lawrence. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie or a lover of basketball, this community has something for you. Keep reading to learn why Lawrence, Kansas is on my to-visit list—and why it should be on yours too!
History-Making Breweries & Unique Bars
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to visit local breweries. In Lawrence, one of the city’s breweries had a huge hand in bringing craft brewing to the state.
In 1989, Free State Brewing Company became the state’s first legal brewery after its owners lobbied the legislature to legalize micro brewing. That decision made brewing legal in Kansas. It also paved the way for many other craft breweries to open across the state. Today, Lawrence is home to the Free State taproom as well as a number of other local breweries.
In addition to its breweries, Lawrence also has a number of other unique establishments to imbibe at including RPG. This local spot, whose name stands for “Restaurant, Pub & Games,” brings together delicious food, global beer and a love of board games. With a library of more than 1,000 games, I know this is a place I could spend more than one afternoon. Plus, RPG allows customers to borrow games from their library so you can play at home as well.
Amazing Arts & Culture
Lawrence is a city full of history and inspiring culture. History buffs can delve deeper into the community’s origins and history of anti-racism at the Watkins Museum of History. And if you’re a basketball fan, you won’t want to miss a visit to The Jayhawk Experience to learn how the game was invented by KU’s first coach.
The ethos of the Lawrence community has long been that what is good for the arts will be good for the community — a mantra that I can definitely get behind! Lovers of contemporary and performance art can get their fill at the Lawrence Arts Center. There’s also the Spencer Museum of Art, which is a contemporary art museum affiliated with the University of Kansas.
Unique Small Businesses
Another reason I’m excited to spend time in Lawrence is the city’s vibrant small business community. The city’s main artery, Massachusetts Street, is full of unique storefronts and ways to shop small. I’ve got my eye on quite a few places to visit, including:
- Waxman Candles: The owners of this small business have been making candles for more than 50 years. Now with locations in Lawrence and Chicago, Waxman Candles is high on my to-visit list. They even have a Lawrence-scented candle, which smells of lilac, pine and hemp.
- Bodytruth Soap Apothecary: As an eco-conscious health and beauty company, Bodytruth creates quality skin care items from plant-based ingredients. Their wide variety of body bars and bath fizzes are sure to put you in a relaxed, post-vacation mood.
- Mud & Lotus: This cozy spa has a private outdoor soaking tub and cedar barrel sauna in a garden right in the heart of downtown Lawrence.
- Mass Street Soda: With more than 1,000 varieties of soda from all over the world, Mass Street Soda is a unique attraction onto itself.
It’s no secret that I love to eat when I travel and Lawrence has some restaurants that make my mouth water just thinking about them. From ramen and po’ boys to classic diners and artisan cocktails, there’s something for every palette in Lawrence.
If you want to get a taste of some of the incredible places to eat in this community, their No Free Lunches series is an awesome place to start. Because after all, a good visit starts with a good meal.
Share Your Thoughts
I would love to hear from you! Have you been to Lawrence, Kansas? What are you must-see places to visit?