The bohemian town of Lawrence, Kansas offers more than your average mid-western city. Between the beautiful campus of Kansas University, the more than 50 public parks and trails, the nationally-recognized art scene, and a compelling place in our nation’s history, there are an abundance of culturally significant and fun things to do in Lawerence KS.
Located in eastern Kansas between Topeka and Kansas City, Lawrence is a picturesque, mid-sized city nestled amongst green hills and stoic rivers. Manicured yards and ornate, historical homes accentuate the tree-lined streets, a clear indicator the residents take pride in their lovely town.
Here’s a MAP of all the fun things to do in Lawerence KS.
The city claims an assortment of designations. Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, lived and coached most of his adult life in Lawrence. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Lawrence one of its Dozen Distinctive Destinations, calling the city an example of the “best preserved and unique communities in America.”
It is said that Lawrence is one of the few cities in the U.S. founded strictly for political reasons, as it was founded in 1854 in an effort to keep the territory free from slavery. Lawrence is also considered one of America’s top 10 small art towns.
We lived in Topeka, Kansas for three months in the summer of 2023. Many Topeka folks had positive things to say about Lawrence, which is only 20 minutes away, so we made it a point to visit a handful of times during our mid-west assignment. The following are 12 fun things to do in Lawrence KS that we found. We hope you enjoy.
Massachusetts Street, known as Mass St. to locals, is the beating, freaky heart of Lawrence. They say “what happens in Kansas stays in Kansas,” but that’s only because no one ever leave the state. Residents consider Mass Street to be one of the most beautiful main streets in America. Any visit to Lawrence has to include a Mass Street stroll.
One of the most fun things to do in Lawerence KS (and best museums in the state of Kansas), is the KU biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum on the KU campus. Some of the highlights of the museum are: A satisfying assortment of dinosaur skeletons and fossils; birds and mammals; live snakes and insects; flora and fauna of the Great Plains; HIV virology; and how land mammals became whales.
Approximately 28,000 undergraduates attend KU, one of the nation’s most beautiful college campuses. Many of the fun things to do in Lawerence KS are found on the KU campus, from museums and parks to sporting events and concerts. Whatever your fancy — theater, kayaking, a Friday night at the bar — Kansas University is one of your best bets for a good time.
One of the most revered institutions around town is the Spencer Art Museum. With a diverse collection of more than 48,000 art objects and works of cultural significance, the Spencer is the only comprehensive art museum in the state of Kansas. Free admission, too.
Our “hidden gem” of fun things to do in Lawerence KS is the Antique Mall on Mass St. Imagine a two-story, indoor flea market, where sellers price their used wares and leave so you can traipse uninterrupted throughout the ultimate 50 stall garage sale. The prices are a bit high by garage sale standards, but the merchandise is in good condition and the selection is extensive.
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Housed in a striking, historic building on the corner of 11th and Massachusetts Streets, the Watkins Museum of History exhibits tell stories of the people and events that shaped the areas we know today as Lawrence and Douglas County, Kansas. The second floor explores struggles for equality, and the third floor exhibits chronicle historical accounts of business, leisure, activism, sports, and more. The history of Lawrence’s place in Bleeding Kansas is documented well.
If you’re into college sports, one of the fun things to do in Lawerence KS is to visit the 19,335 sq. ft. museum known as the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. The Hall honors KU’s historic athletics programs, its coaches and student-athletes, past and present. Some of the things you’ll find here are fun and interactive exhibits, a basketball championship trophy case, and historical placards and display cases.
The Lied Center (pronounced “leed”), is one of the top college concert and entertainment venues in the nation. If you’re looking for something sophisticated like the ballet or symphony, or something lame like an Air Supply concert, perhaps something strange like a performance of Annie, or Nikki Glaser’s comedy “Good Girl Tour” (a likely misnomer), the Lied Center is one of the fun things to do in Lawerence KS.
Located just four miles from Lawrence, Clinton State Park is a 1,425-acre park that rests on the north shore of Clinton Lake, known for its clear water, good fishing, and Campgrounds. Clinton State Park is known for an extensive trail system used by hikers, bikers, photographers, disc golfers, and wildlife observers. It is listed as one of the “50 Great Boating Lakes” by Boating World Magazine.
Located on the KU campus, the Robert Dole Institute of Politics has unique displays that tell the story of Bob Dole’s life in the context of Kansas and The Greatest Generation. Also here is one of the largest congressional archives in existence which houses all of the Senator’s congressional papers. Maybe not one of the most fun things to do in Lawrence KS, but it’s a beautiful building and interesting nonetheless.
Prairie Park Nature Center is a 100-acre preserve that incorporates wetlands, woodlands and prairie habitats around a five-acre lake. Here you’ll see a variety of native wildlife including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey. The education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and live animals. This is a great place to take a walk and enjoy some quiet time in nature.
Mass Street is one of those hipster places in which you’ll have no shortage of interesting places to eat. One of your safer bets for a delicious plate is the Mad Greek located on 9th and Mass.
Lawrence is a self-pleased town with appreciable beauty. There’s an oddball vibe on Mass Street; otherwise this feels like a typical, well-kept, college burg. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Lawerence KS, the KU campus and Mass Street are the ultimate draws.
Mass Street is overrated. Streets very similar to this are found in towns all across this great nation (especially college towns). It’s nice to have your shopping, dining, and drinking in one, pretty place, but everyone gushes beyond the hype it deserves.
While a lovely place to live, especially if you’re into the art scene or college sports, we didn’t find Lawrence inspired to the level of its local reputation. KU is surely an amazing experience for the students, yet we struggle to grasp the grown-up fuss.
Thank you for stopping by our website! We are the Hoffmann family, a full-time RV family that has split residence in Seattle, Washington and San Antonio, Texas. We have special needs children that we homeschool, and work travel assignments for the Veteran Affairs Hospital. If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Start Here and Biography pages. In the meantime, God bless and travel happy!
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