Lawrence loves local.
We’re very proud of our locally-owned businesses, restaurants, artists, musicians, farmers and entrepreneurs. Local opinions are as diverse as the wide variety of options available, so be ready for a full range of suggestions. There’s no limit to the choices.
First of all, Lawrencians love a parade and will come out in droves for the St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, Art Tougeau (pronounced “art to go,” get it?) a hometown wheeled-art parade, and, best of all, the all-equestrian, horses only, no motorized vehicles Old Fashioned Christmas Parade, held annually the first weekend of December. We also love fun runs and weekend races. We’re big supporters of our local Lawrence Humane Society and we love the end-of-summer Pooch Plunge, when the aquatic center goes to the dogs as a fundraiser.
Other events we love include Art in the Park, an annual festival featuring over 150 artists and musicians, set up in South Park. The Lawrence Art Walk has become one of Lawrence’s most eagerly anticipated annual arts events where many Lawrence-area artists open their private home studios to the public.
The annual Souper Bowl Sale is another arts and crafts event that Lawrencians support. On the Saturday before the Super Bowl handmade bowls contributed by local artists and pottery students, go on sale at the Lawrence Arts Center. The purchase of each unique bowl includes a lunch of soup and bread. All proceeds support the ceramics studio and other arts classes at the center.
Bike riders or not, locals love the Tour of Lawrence, an awesome three-day series of USA Cycling pro am competitive bike racing. Locals like to grab an outdoor table and sip a drink at one of the many restaurants along the route on Massachusetts Street and watch competitors wheel through the streets of Downtown.
True to our Unmistakably Lawrence nature, a truly unique event is the Lawrence Downtown Men’s Olympic Shot Put. We convert the intersection of 8th and New Hampshire by hauling in 7 tons of crush limestone to a build-out a shot put venue for this one-day competition. In turn, a world class field of throwers arrive to compete in front of thousands of spectators. Afterwards it becomes a street party with live music and dancing. Where else but Lawrence?
When it comes to food, we have an embarrassment of riches in our choices. Many of our restaurants participate in farm-to-market efforts that also support the local farmers and ranchers.
Choices are plentiful, so Lawrencians start their mornings right at The Roost or Milton’s or a coffee at Z’s Divine Espresso. (How can you go wrong with a name like that?) You’ll see the locals sitting outside, sipping coffee and watching the world go by from the tables of the Bourgeois Pig. The Pig recently made the list of the best college town coffee shops in the country, according to Travel+Leisure. Both are located on 9th Street, east of Mass.
Lawrencians who work Downtown find lunch in a little space with lots of Cajun and Creole flavor, Terrebonne Café, specializing in po’boys and dessert. It’s near the corner of Vermont and 8th Streets. Grab a loaf of freshly baked bread right next door at Great Harvest Bread.
Dempsey’s Burger Pub at 623 Vermont has a great choice of burgers and fries, along with beers and an outdoor patio for those sunny days. For more international flavors, we like Encore Café or Wa Sushi. But frankly, it’s hard to choose.
We like to keep it casual, but sometimes we like our food dressed up. Merchants Pub & Plate relies on local sources for its ingredients, but they whip up some fancy comfort food such as Rosemary & Mustard Rubbed Ribeye or Lentil & Beet Risotto. Yum!
MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT
The Granada brings live music to town every week with bands who are known across the country and some who are still making a name for themselves. The Jazz Haus has long been a favorite spot for music and dancing, along with the Bottleneck and the Replay Lounge.
The historic old theatre that now houses Liberty Hall is a great place to view independent films or take in a madcap performance of Kansas Public Radio’s entertaining “Right Between the Ears.”
Rather settle for a good book? Local bookstores are treasured here, with The Raven, home to good reads and two cats adopted from the local shelter. The Dusty Bookshelf is piled high with used books and literary finds, while the Signs of Life bookstore has a strong selection of religious texts and a nice little coffee shop, too.
On the weekends during the growing season, you’ll find us at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market, enjoying the local vegetables, fruit, honey, meat, flowers, crafts and music. The market runs from April 11 to August 30, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., as well as a Tuesday Market from May 5 to October 27th, 4 to 6 p.m. Find it fresh at 824 New Hampshire.
And during college basketball season, most of us are obsessed with the KU Jayhawks. Our advice to those who move here who haven’t yet caught the college hoops bug is, ”Embrace it. It’s kind of like the whole town hobby.”
Most of all, Lawrence folks are friendly and we like to share. Just ask and we’ll tell you our favorite places to eat, drink, play, see and enjoy.