Lawrence offers a lot of opportunities for all of us to be kids at heart.
Safe streets, welcoming venues, clean conditions, exciting events-all of these make for ideal family visits. But Lawrence businesses and public venues know that kiddos are more than freeloading fellow-travelers; heck, they’ll soon be the ones writing up our reviews online and telling us where or not the city still has what it takes. So bring it on, Generation YOLO and kids of all ages. We’ve got the family covered.
Don’t just take it from us, see what our bloggers recommend…
Photo: KU Natural History Museum Panorama, Rick Mitchell When you peer through the glass at Lewis Lindsay Dyche’s famous panorama—housed in the KU Natural History Museum in the eponymous Dyche Hall near the Kansas Union—animal conservation probably isn’t the first thing you think of. But the exhibit, which turns 125 this year, was first and Read More …
Cattails waggle in the breeze, as the setting sun turns the native grass surrounding them golden. A whooping crane gracefully dips its head near the shallow edge of marshy lake, and a snapping turtle bobs up to the surface of the silvery water to catch a breath of air. You might think you need to Read More …
Apples so delicious and red, you would swear they’re from a fairytale. Asparagus poking out of the ground like an alien plant. Lavender so intoxicating that you’ll have a relaxed aromatherapy buzz for days after smelling it. Lawrence’s local farms have all of that, plus some of the nicest farmers you’ll ever Read More …
Kids (of all ages) are going to have a great time in Lawrence. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
First off, start with our Calendar of Events. It’s a great resource to stay up on all of the activities in town.
University of Kansas Natural History Museum (something for all ages)
The KU Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum features exhibits including live animals, insects, the famous Panorama and displays of fossils and Kansas wildlife. It also includes collections of more than 9 million plants, animals and fossils, and 1.2 million archaeological artifacts. Activities include Museum Scavenger hunts and museum checklist. They also offer summer camps and special events.
Epic Fun (all ages)
A Family Entertainment Center featuring affordable laser tag, unlimited access arcade, and mini golf.
Laugh Out Loud Family Zone (Children ages 1-12)
This downtown location is a great place for parents to bring kids. Inside they’ll find a great place for jumping, climbing, playing, dancing, building and creative play. There’s abundant seating and free Wi-Fi so parents and grandparents can relax while the kiddos play in a safe place.
Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center (all ages)
The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Indoor Aquatic Center is a community-supported, $9 million family aquatic center. The Indoor Aquatic Center’s pools hold 850,000-gallons of water and feature a 10 lane, 50-meter competition pool with diving well and underwater classroom; a separate family pool with zero-depth entry, water slide, and interactive children’s play features; meeting rooms; shower/locker rooms and a café-style concession area.
Both pools are heated with the water temperature set at 82° in the competition pool and 87° on the family side.
Locker rooms and all pools are fully accessible by both ramp entry and lift. Submersible wheelchairs are available.
This facility is also the home of the Lawrence Parks & Recreation Aquatics Division.
Zero Depth and Children’s Area
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – 3:30 to 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday – 2:30 to 7:45 p.m.
Saturday – 1 to 7:45 p.m.
Sunday – 1 to 5:45 p.m.
Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center (all ages)
You’ll find all the fun of a first-class water park just a block from Massachusetts Street at the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Park. Refresh yourself with the good old-fashioned atmosphere of a traditional neighborhood but with some new twists on water fun. The Outdoor Aquatic Center, open seasonally, boasts two water slides, zero-depth children’s area, diving well, interactive play features including fountains, spray mushrooms, and water buckets, and a 50-meter competition area. The fun and convenience extend out of the water as well, with shaded lounge areas, ample deck space, adjoining grass playground, and a full-line café-style concessions area.
The Outdoor Aquatic Center is also host to numerous aquatic camps and swimming lesson programs.
Lawrence Parks & Trails
The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department oversees a park system which includes 54 parks. Most popular among them are South Park, Buford Watson Park, Prairie Park & Mary’s Lake, Youth Sports Complex, Centennial Park and Clinton Lake Park.
South Park Wading Pool is an ideal place for parents to bring children 6 and under for an afternoon outing. The Parks and Recreation Department provides qualified staff to supervise the wading pool area, but please remember, all children must be accompanied by an adult supervisor when using the facility.
Lawrence Public Library (for all ages)
The newly renovated public library is a kid-friendly spot where silence is not required. The kids’ area includes a lego table, reading nooks and lots of fun programs. The Teen Zone has video games and social area. There is a recording studio you can reserve to capture your own tunes or words. The fiction loop is a great place to relax and read. You can also grab a gourmet coffee inside the library at the Sconelady’s Coffee stand in the foyer.
During the winter months of November through February, the Library also has an outdoor skating rink, where you can rent skates and practice your triple jumps for just $3.00.
Lawrence Visitors Center, located in the beautifully restored Union Pacific Train Depot (for train lovers of all ages)
Come and safely see the trains come through all day long. The Visitors Center has an interpretive display of the railway industry in Lawrence. Learn some history of how Lawrence began while you’re there. The free video, “Lawrence: Free State Fortress” is a 25-minute docudrama that older children and adults will enjoy.
Pet World (all ages)
With rescue animals, educational programs, hands-on access to animals, and passionate employees, Pet World in Lawrence is truly unique. Visit Pet World and see for yourself everything a pet store can be!
Prairie Park Nature Center (all ages)
Prairie Park Nature Center opened in 1999 as a 100-acre nature preserve on the east side of Lawrence. The preserve incorporates wetlands, woodlands and prairie habitats and a five-acre lake.
The education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays, and live animals, including a live bird of prey collection with eagles, owls, hawks, and falcons. Prairie Park offers walking trails for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts as well as educational programs to the public, schools and local groups.
Mary’s Lake is just a short walk from the education building and is open for public fishing. It is stocked with fish by the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks. Visitors may see a wide variety of native Kansas wildlife on the property including beavers, deer, bobcats, and birds of prey. There is an area designated for butterfly habitat with “Monarch Watch.” Entry is free.
The Nature Center preserve and education building are operated by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department and funded by City of Lawrence sales tax revenue.
Royal Crest Lanes (all ages)
If it’s indoor fun you need, check out Royal Crest Lanes where you will find 40 lanes with automatic scoring in a smoke-free environment. Kids love the arcade!
Midland Railway (for all ages)
Leaving from Baldwin City, Kansas, the Midland Railway excursion trains feature a more than 20-mile round trip train ride on vintage railway equipment. The trains take you from Baldwin City via “Norwood, Kansas” to Ottawa Junction, Kansas. Running on lines originally constructed in 1867, the trains travel through the scenic Eastern Kansas farmlands and woods. Check out their calendar for special events such as “A Day Out with Thomas,” an Easter Egg ride and hunt, and a Santa ride. Baldwin City is approximately 20 miles south of Lawrence via US 59 South.