Lawrence boasts one of the most beautiful Historic Downtown districts in the country.
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Downtown Lawrence has been the heart of the city since its founding in 1854. It is a rare slice of Main Street, America, that continues to thrive as a residential, commercial and entertainment region.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation ranked Lawrence among its “Dozen Most Distinctive Destinations,” touting it as one of the best-preserved and unique communities in America. Parade magazine named it “the most popular tourist destination in Kansas.” The jewel in the crown is Massachusetts Street, know to the locals as “Mass Street” or sometimes, if we’re lazy, just “Mass.”
Massachusetts and surrounding streets generate a hub of activity day and night. This pedestrian-friendly area is home to more than 100 shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes, pubs and much more. In the spirit of our well-preserved downtown, most of them are unique and locally owned, offering one-of-a-kind choices you won’t find anywhere else. For example, Travel + Leisure included The Bourgeois Pig on its list of “the 10 greatest college town coffee shops in America.” Four of our locally-owned restaurants were named in the top 10 restaurants in Kansas by culturetrip.com. Find 715, Merchants Pub & Plate, The Burger Stand and Free State Brewery on Mass Street.
In addition to shopping and dining, Downtown Lawrence has a variety and diversity that will entertain anyone. There are multiple venues for live music and entertainment, such as The Replay Lounge, The Granada and the Jazz Haus.
However, you’ll find plenty of music and art for free as you stroll down Mass Street. Street musicians are almost always providing a tune on the corner along with outdoor art and sculpture.
Just a block off Mass Street, in the 900 block of New Hampshire, is the Lawrence Arts Center, with galleries and exhibits open to the public. A block the other direction from Massachusetts, on Vermont and 9th, in the historic Carnegie Building, is the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area that tells the story of the pre-Civil War struggles.
Watkins Museum of History is also in Downtown, along with several beautiful parks. South Park and it’s lovely gazebo is the site for Summer open-air band concerts on Wednesday evenings. Make sure to leave plenty of time to explore Downtown Lawrence. You are bound to wish you had more time to take it all in.