For an easy getaway, Lawrence offers the youthful atmosphere of a quintessential college town.
The influence of more than 27,000 University of Kansas students can be felt along five blocks of Massachusetts Street: There are restaurants, bars and unique shops selling local jewelry and art, new and vintage clothing, home decor, toys, novelties and outdoor gear.
For food, there’s something for nearly every taste: upscale, pub fare, pizza, Mexican, Asian, Indian, Greek and more. Many eateries have sidewalk patios, and none is more popular than Free State Brewing Co., where seasonal beers complement inventive menu specials.
Other Mass Street highlights include the antique mall; the historic Eldridge Hotel, with a stately lobby and bountiful Sunday brunch; and the Replay Lounge, which has a shady patio with live music.
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Downtown is best on special occasions, including the art-car parade (May 31) and the Busker Festival (Aug. 22-24). For more information, go to downtownlawrence.com.
Here are some options to extend your Lawrence visit:
Clinton Lake: This state reservoir at the southwest edge of Lawrence was created with the construction of a major dam in the 1970s. Besides boating and fishing, it offers miles of hiking/biking trails plus a beach, campgrounds and even a few cabin rentals. For a quick visit, check out the scenic overlook at the northeast corner of the lake, and on the dry side of the dam, there’s an impressive spillway where water gushes into the Wakarusa River. More info: kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/State-Parks/Locations/Clinton
If you are traveling with a canine companion, check out Mutt Run, 1330 E. 902 Road, a 30-acre off-leash dog park next to the Clinton spillway on land the city leases from the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The paths run through fields and wooded areas. More info: lawrenceks.org; search Mutt Run
Oread Hotel: Kansas is famous for flatness, but Lawrence has a big hill, Mount Oread, where much of KU can be seen for miles, along with the Oread Hotel, a recently opened tower made with a remarkable amount of limestone. The hotel has nice restaurants and two rooftop terraces with spectacular views. More info: theoread.com
University of Kansas: A hillside park near the heart of the campus features the Campanile World War II memorial, and down the hill is the Spencer Museum of Art, with two floors of galleries in a neoclassical building. More info: spencerart.ku.edu