Lawrence is your quirky, cool friend who brings fun to the neighborhood. Let us help you discover the quirky side of Lawrence…
THINGS TO DO
Art Emergency is located in the continually growing cultural district of East Lawrence. The giant warehouse welcomes you with large outdoor installation pieces and a vintage van before you even step foot through the door. Inside, the giant warehouse is split into booths used as mini galleries for local artists’ work. Art Emergency is open every month during Final Fridays.
Do you have 60 minutes to spare? Use these minutes wisely to break the codes in one of the locally themed rooms at Breakout Lawrence. This experience is a must if you want to bring friends or family together for a challenging yet unforgettable time! Whether for a team building event, birthday party or a night with friends, Breakout Lawrence has the perfect game rooms for you.
He’s beauty, he’s grace; he’s Comanche. This horse was ridden by Captain Myles Keogh during the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 and was the only survivor left on the field. After Comanche’s death, Lewis Lindsay Dyche, a teacher at the University of Kansas and skilled taxidermist, preserved the heroic horse. Lucky for us, Comanche can be seen at the KU Natural History Museum! The museum staff has recently refurbished the mount for anyone to go check out on the fourth floor.
Once a year the streets of Downtown Lawrence are taken over by fire-breathers, jugglers, acrobats, magicians, and other extreme talents to make for one unmistakably weird weekend! We promise, you’ll be amazed at the oddities you witness. One quick tip: stay alert… you never know when you’ll be a part of the show! This year’s festival takes place over Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27.
This spectacle is just what it sounds like, but so much more than you expect. Randy Walker has filled his Lawrence home with a vast collection of oddities that are sure to pique your interest. Elvis Presley hair or toe nail? Hunk of elephant dung turned into Adolf Hitler? A sock monkey-or four hundred? Walker’s got it! He’s fascinated by American kitsch and has been picking through garage sales and antique stores since his teenage years. You can revel in this bizarre assembly of artifacts by making an appointment with Walker. He will personally give you the full tour so you don’t miss anything-you wouldn’t want to mistake a piece of trash for the napkin Elvis once used.
Lawrence has always been a place for artists to be inspired, stretch their creative prowess, and showcase their work for the community. The Percolator is one of many creative spaces that local artists use to share and grow. It is a house that acts as a gallery, meeting space, theatre, and whatever else the people cook up! You are sure to find a kitschy collection of unique art when you visit by appointment or during an event, which you can find on their website.
If you think Pet World is just another pet store, you can banish that thought right now. Pet World is a locally owned, full line pet store, rescue, and exotic animal shelter. It has been a family favorite in Lawrence since it was established in the 1970s, and is the only pet store to win “Best of Lawrence” every single year without fail. Even the state of Kansas agrees- it uses Pet World as a training site for new Animal Health inspectors! Pet World is enthusiastic about their animals but also about educating and serving the community through youth programs, internships, apprenticeships and employment. Experience what a pet store should be with Pet World-you might even leave with a new friend.
“Sit down and make a wish. You will not be disappointed.” Sitting down used to be an easy task back when the bench was unadorned by hanging ropes of knitted yarn, layers of mismatched cloth, and trinkets and tokens left behind by wishers past. You won’t be disappointed, though, by the wacky decoration and potential luck this Lawrence legend has to offer. You can find the wishing bench on the corner of 9th and Delaware.
EAT & DRINK
Calling all early birds and night owls! Java Break is open from 7:00 am to midnight every day. The unique café brings baked goods, caffeinated drinks, food and sleep-deprived students together for a splendid time. But more importantly, Java Break is well-known for the bar for all ages. This bar offers over 20 different cereal types with several toppings and to top it off, add the milk of your choice into your takeout box. You’re bound to find a cereal combination you’ll love while studying in this cozy café. Don’t leave before making your mark in the Free Speech room.
Ladybird Diner is more than just a cutesy restaurant that curbs your comfort food cravings-it is an integral part of the Lawrence community. What started as appreciation for the best pie in town turned into buzz about the place for donuts as the diner rebuilt after fire damage. The community’s love for Ladybird is exhaustive- the disappearance of one half of a salt shaker couple (the diverse collection of shakers is well-loved by customers) set off a series of news articles and search and rescue campaigns. Now, Ladybird is a strong voice for action and equality and acts as a meeting place after hours when need be. And I think it’s safe to say that Ladybird is the only joint in town that has a full-sized, stuffed buffalo head adorned with flowers watching over hungry patrons.
We may be landlocked in Kansas, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel the island vibes! The Sandbar has been providing Lawrence with a tropical oasis since 1989, complete with Jimmy Buffet tunes and mermaids dancing on the bar. This spot has been voted the Best Bar in Lawrence-maybe because people love getting plastic sharks and beads with their tropical drinks? The Sandbar is also very proud of what they claim as “the best jukebox in Lawrence” and the indoor hurricane that sweeps through every night at 10 pm.
If you’re looking for another excuse to eat a donut, here’s one: 25% of all donut proceeds go to charity at Wake the Dead. If that didn’t win you over, this breakfast bar offers 50 different types of mimosas! If you love breakfast food but never make it in time before lunch begins, this is the perfect place for you. Wake the Dead offers breakfast all day, and no, it’s not too good to be true. While this restaurant may still be new to the block, it has definitely made its name known.
Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market is located in the back parking lot of Cottin’s Hardware & Rental every Thursday from 4:00-6:30 pm. Local farmers, bakers and other vendors gather here to sell fresh food that everyone is dying to buy. Farmers markets are always a good time to try new things, but at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market, they always offer live music, hot food and outdoor games so the whole family can have a great time together.
Mass Street Soda- a place to drink that bubbly, refreshing drink you’ve been craving all day. With 1,000 varieties of soda from all over the world, this shop is dedicated to giving you and your gang a place to enjoy your favorite 6-pack of soda. Mass Street Soda hosts birthday parties, local festivals and events for Final Fridays. If you’re not as lucky as us and live outside of Lawrence, don’t fret- Mass Street Soda can ship anywhere in the country!
Not your average candle store that’s for sure! Waxman Candles, located at 609 Massachusetts St. since 1993, has tons of unique, handmade candles. The store offers different types of waxes in order for you to find the perfect candle for your home. Waxman Candles offers hometown favorites for townies and tourists.
Wild Territory Nature and Science Store is an educational store for all you science enthusiasts. Don’t worry, history buffs, this store has historical and military items too. No matter how old you are, you’re bound to learn something new and unusual at this shop.
If you are like us and never know what to get your mom for her birthday, look no further than Wonder Fair! Seriously, what mom doesn’t love pretty stationary and silly birthday cards? If you’re not ready to commit to that purchase, join the letter writing club Wonder Fair hosts. This club is held at the Decade coffee shop every ‘teenth Sunday of the month and is meant for catching up on those letters or thank you notes you keep putting off.
Blog updated in April 2018 by eXplore Lawrence intern: Maggie Tarantino