College Towns: Lawrence, Kansas

Learn more about Lawrence, Kansas – home of the University of Kansas.

The Town: Lawrence, Kansas

Within 50 miles of Topeka and Kansas City, Lawrence lies on the Kansas River near the Kansas/Missouri border. About 87,000 people call Lawrence, home, making it the perfect size if you’re looking for a true college town that revolves almost exclusively around a university.

Four distinct seasons and typical Midwestern weather make up the climate: cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers, with lots of precipitation year-round.

The School: Kansas University

Built atop Mount Oread, the Kansas University (KU) campus lies 1,200 feet above the rest of Lawrence. Look for Memorial Campanile, which can be seen throughout the entire school.

KU was rated an “outstanding study abroad” school by U.S. News & World Report, with nearly one-third of the entire student body spending part of their college career in another country. Design Intelligence magazine named KU the best architecture school in the country.

The KU student body, more commonly known as Jayhawks, excels in academic and athletic competitions. The school has 70 unique debate teams, all of which are sent to the National Debate Tournament. KU has won that tournament five times.

Owning one of the most historically dominant basketball programs in the country, the men’s Jayhawks team has won five national championships. The last, in 2008, was won in a come-from-behind thriller in which Mario Chalmers hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to tie the game. The Jayhawks eventually defeated the University of Memphis in overtime.

What to Do

Massachusetts Street is the epicenter of activity, though it differs from many other college towns in that it is more family-friendly. This isn’t to say you won’t be able to enjoy a beer at one of the many bars that line the street, however.

Basketball is king at KU. ESPN The Magazine rated Phog Allen Fieldhouse the loudest college basketball arena in the United States, in part due to its massive capacity of more than 16,000 people. Despite the raucous environment, you’ll get chills the first time you hear the “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk” cheer. The crowd starts out chanting “rock, chalk, Jayhawk, KU” at a hauntingly slow cadence for a sports chant, slowly speeding it up gradually each of the five times it is repeated.

Where to Eat and Drink

For an on-the-go snack or some fresh produce to cook up a meal of your own, stop by the Harry Cross farmer’s market. Located on the 500-600 block of North Street, Cross runs the market entirely out of his garage. Don’t let the appearance fool you, as he offers some of the freshest and tastiest produce you can get in town.

With more than 20 flavors at any given time, Syla and Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream takes seasonal favorites and turns them into delicious desserts. Try the pumpkin pie or apple pie. Or you could try either chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Take your meal to go and enjoy it at the lovely Japanese garden across the street.

Did You Know?

Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, was once the head coach at KU.

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