With both the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University based in Lawrence, the town could be described as nothing other than a college town. The town was originally settled in 1854 by a small group of pioneers who came to the area with the intention of seeding a new city for growth. The movement worked, and as quickly as a year later a post office had been established in town. Growth steadily increased afterwards. There is an interesting dichotomy that exists between the young and the old in Lawrence. In addition to being recognized as a great college town, it is also recognized as a great place to retire. This has created an interesting culture consisting of many young and old people, with fewer middle-aged folk than you might expect in a city of its size.
Lawrence follows the vacancy patterns set out by most college towns in the U.S.. When you have a town where a significant portion of the population is student based, April, May and June are going to be the best months to start your search for a new apartment. That holds true in Lawrence.
Lawrence landlords are college town landlords, with all that implies. They will want to know if you're enrolled in school, whether you're studying full time or part time, and most importantly, how you expect to pay for the apartment. Parents, a job, or a scholarship can all be acceptable answers, just be prepared to prove it.
Good transportation options are one of the hallmarks of Lawrence. First of all, if you live in the center of the city, you can get to the University, shopping, and a lot of student housing by foot. If you live a little further away form the city center though, the local bus system, "The T" will get you where you need to go quickly, and at only $1 fares, affordably.
Music magazines have taken notice of how good the music scene in Lawrence can be. Taking in a concert or a Jawhawks game is probably the best way to get immersed in the local way of life. If you enjoy fishing, boating, hiking or similar activities, get out of town to Clinton Lake for the weekend. At night, heading to Massachusetts Street is a sure way to find a great place to relax with some friends and a cocktail.
The Booth Family Hall of Athletics celebrates the storied history of the Kansas University Athletics program. If you're a science enthusiast in any way, the Museum of Natural History is very well put together, and has a number of fascinating exhibits. The Freedom Frontier National Heritage Area Exhibit is located inside the Carnegie building, and helps illuminate the history of the Border War, providing a fascinating insight into local history. The Watkins Community Museum is another excellent way to look into local history. Visiting South Park is a great way to catch a free show during the summer, as the Gazebo is often filled with performing musicians.
High-end pizza joints are rising in popularity all the time, and Lawrence has a great example of why with Limestone. Made with fresh ingredients, the pizza here keeps people coming back time and again. If you're looking for something a little different than the standard American fare you find in chain restaurants, head to 715 Restaurant for a more European dining experience. If you prefer Asian flavours in your dining, then options like the Little Saigon Café or Wild Pho are sure to please. If you like a good burger, you must visit the Burger Stand at the Casbah. Zagat calls it one of the top places to get a burger in the United States.
One of the best bars, and almost assuredly the bar with the best name, the Bourgeois Pig is a bar with fantastic cocktails, and a very popular outdoor patio. If you're looking for a quiet spot where you can drink some delicious craft beer, the Free State Brewing Company is an excellent option. Bullwinkle’s is a popular local hangout for the students, as it is only a short walk from campus. The Free State Brewing Company was one of the first local companies to brew it's own beer, and the atmosphere in their taproom, along with the food, is among the best in the city. The 23rd Street Brewery is another good bet when it comes to finding pub food and locally brewed beer.
If you head down Massachusetts Street you can take in the collection of outdoor sculptures. The city is known for it's support of arts and culture, and a great deal of the support starts with the University. The Lied Center on the campus is a wonderful place to catch a variety of performances in many different art forms. The Jazzhaus is another great venue to catch live music. Heading down on a jam night is a great way to see some of the best local musicians in a more relaxed atmosphere. Live theatre fans enjoy the shows presented by Theatre Lawrence, which contain a mix of contemporary plays and Broadway-style musicals.
The Downtown Lawrence Old Fashioned Christmas Parade is like your great-grandfather’s Christmas parade. The parade features no vehicles, and all the floats and exhibits are pulled on horse-drawn carriages or sleights instead. One of the largest festivals that takes place in Lawrence each year is the Lawrence Busker Festival. This event transforms the city into one giant venue, with fantastic buskers from every discipline imaginable showcasing their work on the city streets. The Lawrence Art Center hosts the Free State Festival each year as well, which celebrates every art form imaginable, although it started as a film festival originally.
The downtown district in Lawrence is the perfect place to shop no matter what your taste. There are more than 180 business establishments in the downtown core that include a mix of chains and independently owned businesses. There are frequently events and festivals in the area, and the scenic backdrop makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon window-shopping. The best place to start is on Massachusetts Street, the principal commercial district in the city, but don't be afraid to wander down some of the other beautiful streets as well, as you'll find more fascinating shops tucked away. If you prefer to shop at a mall, the West Ridge Mall is a large indoor mall in Lawrence that has plenty to offer.
The Jayhawks are the local sport teams, and are affiliated with the University of Kansas. As with many college towns across the country, in Lawrence it is not uncommon to find people much more concerned with NCAA competitions than with the professional leagues. The Jayhawks are an extremely competitive member of the Big 12, and have 3 Basketball championships to their name. The original coach of the Jayhawks program was none other than James Naismith, the man credited with the very invention of the sport. The program has also produced many athletes who have gone on to prestigious NBA careers, including Wilt Chamberlain.
Although the parks and recreation department of Lawrence is responsible for many great facilities throughout the city, perhaps none is as impressive as the Prairie Park Nature Center on the east side. This is a nature preserve that covers more than 80 acres, and here, you can see all kinds of flora and fauna in it's natural habitat without leaving the city. 70 miles of bike and running trails wind through the city, making it a true paradise for joggers and cyclists. There are also several beautiful golf courses in the area, including the Eagle Bend Golf Course and the Alvamar Golf Course.