Top Things to Do in Lawrence, Kansas | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Lawrence, Kansas

The home of the University of Kansas balances the energy of city attractions with quiet retreats to lakes and prairie.


Clinton Lake Five miles west of the University of Kansas, you can bet the sand volleyball courts and beach attract students. But the 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, nature trail, and fishing ponds promise a more peaceful escape.

Crescent Moon Winery Taste wines like the Seyval Blanc made from Kansas grapes in a pastoral setting 10 miles northeast of town. Adirondack chairs alongside a pond invite lingering.

DeBruce Center KU basketball fans flock to this Allen Fieldhouse addition to learn about the sport’s history and see former coach James Naismith’s original rules of the game.

Haskell Cultural Center and Museum Student and Native American art is displayed in the cultural center at Haskell Indian Nations University. Campus walking tours also start here.

KU Natural History Museum From the dinosaurs that once roamed to the bugs that still buzz, this university museum’s four floors introduce visitors to life on our planet. Live-animal exhibits include a bee tree with a live bee colony.

Massachusetts Street Buildings from the 1800s house independent shops along this downtown street. Look for trendy accessories and art at Striped Cow, Wonder Fair and Ruff House Art.

Quantrill’s Raid of Lawrence One of the Civil War’s greatest atrocities, the 1863 raid ended with 200 dead, 185 homes destroyed and the town’s commercial district in ruins. Follow the path of destruction on a self-guided tour; maps available at the Lawrence CVB.

Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics A 29-foot stained-glass window graces the institute on the KU campus. Exhibits cover the senator’s life and career; sights include a World War II Memory Wall.

Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

Ruff House Art Shop for illustrated tote bags, Christmas ornaments, and cute cards and art prints created by Jill Shephard. Want a custom design? Turnaround is just four days.

Spencer Museum of Art An $8 million renovation allows for natural light to showcase some of the 45,000-plus European, North American and East Asian artworks at this free campus museum.


23rd Street Brewery The scent of fresh hops mingles with hot pizza as fans cheer on the Jayhawks on 26 TVs in this brewpub. 

715 Mass Restaurant Handmade pastas, pork processed in-house and more than 100 wines fill the farm-to-table menu. Dishes change seasonally but might include a simple spinach-ricotta ravioli or bold rabbit ravioli at this see-and-be-seen venue.

715 Mass Restaurant

715 Mass Restaurant

Bon Bon! A husband-wife team dishes eclectic dinner bowls, steamed buns and comfort food “yums,” such as Thai-style sweet-and-spicy chicken wings.

Free State Brewing Company The pub’s name acknowledges the aspirations of the town’s abolitionist settlers. It opened in 1989 to become the first legal brewery in Kansas since 1880. Show your support and order the Wheat State Golden. 

Genovese Choose from wood-fired rotisserie meats, pizza and pasta in a historic downtown building.

Merchants Pub and Plate With a something-for-everyone menu, this gastropub satisfies the bar crowd and foodies, including those who eat gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or vegetarian.

Port Fonda Punk rock plays over the speakers as diners cut into twists on Mexican street food such as spicy fried chicken with churros.

Papa Keno’s Giant slices of New York-style thin-crust pizza piled with fresh toppings—the Barnyard has cream cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, green onions and almonds—make this joint a favorite.

Rudy’s Pizzeria Spicy-sweet red wine-spiked sauce slathering a whole-wheat crust makes this laid-back joint stand out from the pizza crowd.

WheatFields Bakery Cafe Order one of more than a dozen sandwich options served on fresh, hearty bread before taking home a loaf of sourdough loaded with ripe Kalamata olives.


Circle S Ranch and Country Inn It looks like a barn, but waffle-weave robes and double-sided fireplaces prove anything but rustic. Sit on porch rockers or head out to the country on horseback.

Circle S Ranch and Country Inn

Circle S Ranch and Country Inn. Photo: Doug Stremel.

The Eldridge Hotel Stay in one of 48 suites in this 1800s building, located in the heart of Massachusetts Street.  The renovated Jayhawker bar and a new restaurant opened last fall.

The Oread Enjoy prime access to campus at this boutique hotel with a fortress-like exterior. The Bird Dog Bar off the lobby looks toward the north gate of KU.

The Oread

The Oread

For information: Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau


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