Based on what our visitors tell us, here are some of their favorites we think you'll like.
Most guests begin on Massachusetts Street, locally referred to as “Mass Street” or sometimes shortened to just plain “Mass.” Its five blocks of shopping, dining and entertainment is pedestrian-friendly and filled with more than 100 stores, galleries, restaurants and coffeehouses, most of them locally owned and one-of-a-kind.
For breakfast, visitors are discovering Ladybird Diner. It harkens back to the old time diner, but with a decidedly 21st Century twist. The eggs are fresh and the hearty Blue Plate Dinner will fill you up, but come back later for the pie. Oh my, the pie!
Other options Downtown include WheatFields Bakery Cafe for delicious handcrafted pastries or eggs with artisan, brick-oven baked bread. The walls are lined with work by local artists.
You may want to join the townies at The Roost or Milton’s for breakfast, lunch or brunch on weekends. The Roost, launched with a kick-starter campaign, will wake you with delicious breakfast options like the Breakfast Sammy or the Goat Cheese Danish. (You won’t be disappointed.) Eggs Benedict with a unique twist are often on the Specials board at Milton’s Café. Take a seat inside this little spot with big windows or enjoy a table on the patio and enjoy a restaurant that’s been a Lawrence staple since 1997.
The Free State Brewing Company is usually top of the list for visitors. Free State was the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years when it started its 14-barrel brewhouse in 1989. Understandably, this brewpub is now one of the liveliest spots in town, serving hearty food along with the Copperhead Pale Ale, the Ad Astra and the Wheat State Golden.
Visitors and locals enjoy Zen Zero’s version of an Asian noodle shop and restaurant that offers cuisines from Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. It is frequently named the best Vegetarian Restaurant in Lawrence.
The Basil Leaf started life in a gas station but has progressed to a little storefront just a few blocks from Mass on 9th Street. It’s getting lots of attention and visitors have called it the “best kept secret in town” when it comes to tasty cuisine.
Lawrence has one of the highest percentages of working artists in the country, per capita and has long stood out in the Kansas landscape as a mecca for creative thought and energy. Final Fridays is not to be missed if your visit coincides with the last Friday of the month. A wealth of artists, galleries, art collectives and local businesses make it a bit of a party with special events and showings while people stroll the streets of Downtown and pop in here and there to look around and chat with friends.
For over 20 years, the Phoenix Gallery has been featuring the handmade works of local, regional and national artisans. As a locally owned business it supports the arts by providing affordable handcrafted artwork from individual artists. You’ll find a wide selection of exquisite pottery, blown glass, woodwork, textiles, jewelry, gifts and much more.
The holiday arts and crafts event that brings folks to town is Bizarre Bazaar, a popular grassroots tradition that features original and unusual hand-crafted specialty items. Local artists sell ceramics, glass, fiber art, jewelry, candles, soap, paintings, photography and much more.
There is lots of night life and entertainment on Mass Street. Visitors like to join in the live music scene at the Replay Lounge or the Jazz Haus.
Harking back to another era, John Brown Underground is a speak-easy with an intimate atmosphere and some sophisticated drinks. Named for the American abolitionist who brought his campaign against slavery to Bleeding Kansas, the ambiance of this little hideaway is much calmer than its namesake. Find it on 7th Street, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire Streets. True to the speak-easy theme, look for the red or green light outside to let you know if you’ll get the okay to come in.
If you’re looking for a spot to relax as the sun goes down, you can get a panoramic view of Lawrence, the KU campus and a good portion of Douglas County from The Nest, atop the Oread Hotel. You can enjoy an after-dinner drink and take in the spectacular view. Fridays and Saturday evenings, when the weather is amenable, there is live music as well.
One of the first things a visitor may notice about Lawrence is that locals love their town and they are happy to share information on a great place to get a latte’, shop for something special, peek in to a little of our history or just relax and enjoy life.