The best way to understand Lawrence is to understand its history. Lawrence was founded as the state of Kansas's center of resistance to the institution of slavery. In other words, Lawrence was founded with the sole purpose of establishing Kansas as a free state in the years leading up to the Civil War. Ultimately Lawrence was admitted to the Union as a free state, but it was not without violence and turmoil. The Bleeding Kansas era is just one significant piece of our history. Use these trip ideas to plan your historic visit to Lawrence. 

No matter what type of historic trip you are looking for, start your journey at the Watkins Museum of History. Here you can dig deep into the Bleeding Kansas years, understand Lawrence during the Civil Rights movement, get an understanding of why basketball is such a big deal in our community, and so much more.  


Explore the exhibits at the Watkins Museum of History and join in on a guided tour of Bleeding Kansas sites. 

Pick up a Quantrill's Raid self-guided tour brochure at the Museum or the Lawrence Visitors Center to follow along with one of the most violent events in Lawrence's history. 

The Eldridge Hotel was burnt down twice during those tumultuous years. The hotel is back in grand form, welcoming visitors who appreciate the charm of a historic boutique hotel.  

Freedoms Frontier National Heritage Area is an organization that represents Civil War heritage sites in Kansas and Missouri. The Carnegie Building in Downtown Lawrence houses an exhibit that explores the Civil War along the Kansas-Missouri border. 

For the most complete story of Bleeding Kansas in the area, visit Black Jack Battlefield in Baldwin City plus Constitution Hall and the Territorial Capital Museum in Lecompton. 

The Wakarusa Valley Heritage Museum has an exhibit that focuses on the area's important role in the Underground Railroad. The Grover Barn in Lawrence was an essential stop along the Underground Railroad and is a part of the National Parks Service Network to Freedom program. important

Notice a nod to the Bleeding Kansas era by the names of many of our local businesses. How about dinner at the Free State Brewing Co. followed by drinks at John Brown Underground?


No other city can boast an array of basketball history like Lawrence, Kansas. Although the game was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, Lawrence is where basketball came of age. The University of Kansas has the only college basketball program founded by the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith. This is why we are called the Cradle of Basketball. 

With three NCAA National Championships, it is safe to say that Lawrence is embedded in basketball history.

For some more history: 

Dr. James Naismith invented basketball on December 21, 1891, to fill the need for an indoor winter sport. In 1898, he brought the sport to the University of Kansas and became their first basketball coach. The court in Allen Fieldhouse is officially James Naismith Court.

Forrest C. “Phog” Allen became KU’s second basketball coach when he replaced Naismith in 1908. Allen served for 39 seasons at KU. To date, Phog Allen is the fourth most successful coach in college basketball and KU’s winningest coach of all time. He was instrumental in bringing basketball to the Olympic games. While Naismith is often called the father of basketball, he reportedly coined Allen the father of basketball coaching. Allen's statue stands in front of the Fieldhouse that bears his name, and Jayhawk fans warn opponents to Beware of the Phog.

To include a little Round Ball in your visit, pick up a brochure of the Famous Basketball Sites self-guided tour at the Lawrence Visitors Center or at the Watkins Museum of History or follow this itinerary: 

A marker at Douglas County Bank - 807 Kentucky St - commemorates the location of the first KU home basketball game on February 10, 1899.

James Naismith Memorial at Memorial Park Cemetery 

Dr. Forrest C. "Phog" Allen Memorial at Oak Hill Cemetery 

Allen Fieldhouse, the revered home of Kansas Jayhawks basketball, has stood at the center of basketball for over 65 years. Allen Fieldhouse is one of college basketball's most historically significant and greatest home-court advantage.

Booth Family Hall of Athletics provides the rich history and tradition of Kansas athletics. It commemorates former KU players and coaches. The Hall of Athletics includes exhibits celebrating the legendary career of iconic KU basketball coach Phog Allen and his relationship with Naismith. Explore other notable events in KU athletics history here.

DeBruce Center is the permanent home to James Naismith's Original Rules of Basket Ball, written in 1891. Also included are highlights of his contributions to KU and the world through basketball, fitness, and character. The center also features displays that celebrate Forrest "Phog" Allen, the Father of Basketball Coaching.

For a guided tour of Allen Fieldhouse, Booth Hall of Athletics, and DeBruce Center visit Jayhawk Experience.

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