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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Davis

Unearthing Lawrence, Kansas: Discovering Hidden Gems

When you think of Lawrence, Kansas, what comes to mind? Maybe it's the bustling downtown, the vibrant college scene, or even the storied history. But beyond these well-known aspects, Lawrence, Kansas has a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be uncovered. As a Lawrence local, I've had the pleasure of exploring some lesser-known gems that both locals and tourists should add to their must-visit list.


Hidden Attractions

Hidden Attractions

Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum

Tucked away on the University of Kansas campus, this museum showcases fascinating exhibits on paleontology, geology, and biology. It's a paradise for science enthusiasts. The museum not only offers an extensive collection of specimens and artifacts but also provides an engaging educational experience for visitors of all ages. Interactive exhibits and knowledgeable guides bring the world of natural history to life, making it an ideal destination for families, students, and anyone with a curious mind. As you explore the museum's halls, you'll embark on a journey through time, unraveling the mysteries of ancient life, and gaining a deeper appreciation for the natural world. Whether you're studying the intricacies of fossils or simply marveling at the wonders of our planet, the Biodiversity Institute & Natural History Museum is a hidden gem that promises both education and awe.


Don’t miss the incredible panorama and the bug room!


Wonder Fair Gallery

This local art gallery and shop is a treasure trove of unique and contemporary art pieces. Located in downtown Lawrence, Wonder Fair Gallery showcases the works of emerging artists and often hosts art-related events. It's the perfect place to explore Lawrence's thriving art scene and discover one-of-a-kind creations.


Beyond the impressive collection, Wonder Fair also fosters a sense of community among artists and art enthusiasts alike. Their welcoming staff is passionate about connecting visitors with the artists behind the masterpieces, adding a layer of depth to your art appreciation experience. Whether you're an art aficionado or just curious about the local creative scene, Wonder Fair is a haven of inspiration that encourages exploration and conversation.

John Brown's Underground

This hidden gem of a bar offers an unforgettable speakeasy experience that transports you to a bygone era.


John Brown's Underground has garnered a reputation as one of Lawrence's best-kept secrets, thanks to its intimate ambiance and exceptional craft cocktails. The dimly lit, brick-lined space exudes a cozy and mysterious charm, making it the perfect spot for a relaxed evening with friends or a romantic date night.

The cocktail menu at John Brown's Underground is a testament to mixology expertise. From classic Old Fashioneds to innovative concoctions infused with locally sourced ingredients, every drink is a work of art.


In an age where craft cocktails are celebrated, John Brown's Underground stands out by offering an exceptional experience that caters to all tastes and preferences. John Brown's Underground promises an evening of delight and intrigue that you won't soon forget.


Nostalgia Room

A brand-new addition to Lawrence's thriving scene, Nostalgia Room is a unique hybrid between a bar and a coffee shop. Located on 9th Street, between Downtown and the Warehouse Arts District, it's a place that caters to a different kind of social experience.


Nostalgia Room specializes in providing a unique "Teetotaler" experience, where every drink and cocktail is thoughtfully created without alcohol, guaranteeing a completely sober experience. Their menu boasts an extensive array of temperate cocktails, dealcoholized wine, and beer. What truly sets this establishment apart is its deliberate shift away from the emphasis on alcohol consumption, instead placing the spotlight on the inherent social nature of a bar and the meaningful connections forged within its walls.


If you're looking for a refreshing and intentional social experience in Lawrence, Nostalgia Room is the hidden gem to explore. Whether you prefer a coffee or a temperate cocktail, this unique spot is redefining the way we connect over drinks in Lawrence.


Local Eateries

Local Eateries

Limestone Pizza

While not entirely hidden, this spot deserves more recognition. Their wood-fired pizzas and incredible beverage menu are the perfect combination for a cozy dinner. What sets Limestone Pizza apart is not only its delicious food but also its commitment to sourcing local ingredients. From the fresh produce to the artisanal cheeses, every element of their menu reflects the flavors of Lawrence and the surrounding region. The inviting ambiance, with its rustic décor and warm lighting, creates the ideal setting for a relaxed evening with friends or a romantic dinner. Whether you're a meat lover, a vegetarian, or a fan of creative toppings, Limestone Pizza has a pie that will satisfy your cravings. With a slice in hand and a local brew on the table, you'll quickly understand why Limestone is a beloved gem in Lawrence's culinary scene.


Bon Bon

Just re-emerging from the pandemic and nestled in a charming corner of East Lawrence, Bon Bon is a delightful bistro that offers a delectable selection of dishes. We’re waiting to see what their new menu looks like, but it’s sure to provide a delicious and unforgettable culinary experience. It's a true hidden gem for food enthusiasts.


1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe

A delightful bakery tucked away in a charming neighborhood, 1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe has captured the hearts of Lawrence locals with its delectable pastries and artisanal coffee. But there's something new brewing in this beloved establishment. In addition to their original location, 1900 Barker has recently opened a second spot in the bustling 800 block of Massachusetts Street. This expansion brings their signature baked goods, including mouthwatering croissants, to an even more central part of Lawrence. Whether you're visiting the original bakery or checking out their new location, the commitment to crafting exceptional pastries and providing a cozy atmosphere remains unwavering. So, whether you're a longtime fan or discovering this gem for the first time, be sure to savor their freshly baked treats and aromatic coffee in one of Lawrence's most delightful cafes.


Offbeat Events

Offbeat Events

Free State Festival

This annual event celebrates film, music, art, and ideas, featuring indie films and live music. It's a unique experience that captures the creative spirit of Lawrence. The Free State Festival has firmly established itself as a cultural cornerstone in Lawrence's event calendar. But what makes it even more exciting is that it continues to evolve and surprise. Each year, the festival introduces fresh ideas, new talents, and innovative presentations that leave attendees inspired. From thought-provoking film screenings to intimate live performances, the Free State Festival provides a platform for emerging artists and thinkers to shine. It's a testament to Lawrence's dynamic arts scene, and the festival's ability to bring together the community in celebration of creativity, making it a must-attend event for those looking to explore Lawrence's artistic pulse.


Final Friday Art Walk

On the last Friday of each month, downtown Lawrence and the nearby Warehouse Arts District transform into an art lover's paradise. Local galleries and studios open their doors for an evening of art and socializing. But Final Friday is more than just a typical art walk; it's a vibrant celebration of Lawrence's thriving creative community. As you stroll through the charming streets, you'll encounter a diverse range of artistic expressions, from contemporary paintings to avant-garde installations. The best part? You get to interact with the artists themselves, gaining insights into their inspirations and techniques. Final Friday fosters a sense of connection, bridging the gap between creators and appreciators of art. It's a monthly tradition that embodies Lawrence's artistic spirit and offers a delightful opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.


Belgian Waffle Ride

If you're an adventure-seeker with a love for cycling, the Belgian Waffle Ride is Lawrence's hidden gem that should be on your radar. This unique event takes the spirit of cycling to new heights. Combining the challenge of a road race with the adventure of gravel riding, the Belgian Waffle Ride offers participants a thrilling experience through the picturesque landscapes surrounding Lawrence. Cyclists of all levels can choose from various routes, each promising breathtaking views and demanding terrain.


What sets this event apart is its celebration of camaraderie and post-ride festivities. After conquering the challenging courses, riders gather for a vibrant social gathering, complete with delicious Belgian-style waffles and local brews. It's a chance to connect with fellow cyclists and relive the day's triumphs and challenges. The Belgian Waffle Ride epitomizes Lawrence's passion for outdoor sports and community, making it a hidden gem that cyclists won't want to miss.


Now that you're armed with this list of hidden gems, it's time to embark on your own Lawrence adventure. Whether you're a local looking to spice up your routine or a visitor eager to explore beyond the obvious, Lawrence has a wealth of surprises waiting just beneath the surface. Happy exploring!


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