LAWRENCE, Kan. - Lawrence boasts plenty of things to do.
It dates from 1854, boasts two university campuses and is less than an hour's drive from most of Kansas City.
You can make your first stop at the train station. The Lawrence Visitor Center started out as a Union Pacific train depot. The depot was renovated in 1991, and it's been the visitor center since 1996.
Trains still rumble by as often as 100 times a day. You can come here to get a visitors guide, or get started on a guided tour. Check out the display with a brief history of the area, and let them know where you're from by putting a push-pin in their world map.
Center manager Debbie White said they can offer more than just books and maps to visitors.
"They get to talk to our wonderful volunteers who have lived here mostly for a long time and get some inside scoop on what there is to do," White said.
The University of Kansas campus offers several other popular destinations.
One favorite, especially on hot summer days, is the Spencer Museum of Art. Located just south of Memorial Stadium, the museum has several collections that span several styles, regions and periods.
Galleries boast items from east Asia, paintings from across Europe and a gallery of modern works. Other exhibitions feature paintings, other works of social protest and items about technology.
Museum director Saralyn Reece Hardy said the museum has something for everyone.
"You come in with your ideas, your questions, your fears, your hopes, your concerns, and you find a work of art that speaks to you," Hardy said.
Curators have been trying different ways to get visitors more engaged with the works they are looking at. One technique has been to remove the usual wall signs and placards that describe the works. Instead, some of them are on the floor. Others have a phone number you can call where you can hear more about the piece. You can also listen to these clips on the museum website, but not all mobile browsers support this.
A couple of highlights are the 1934 Thomas Hart Benton painting "The Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley" and a 600-year-old wood Madonna and child sculpture by medieval German artist Tilman Riemenschneider.
Sports fans shouldn't miss the Booth Family Hall of Athletics. Located on the east side of Allen Fieldhouse, it's the KU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Whatever your sport, KU has probably excelled at it. KU Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony said the fairly new space was designed to recognize all of KU's sports in one place.
"Wilt Chamberlain and great football players, you know, the Gayle Sayers, and the track stars such as Cunningham and Jim Ryun," Marchiony said.
The Hall is a celebration of KU athletics over the decades, everything from track and field to football and, of course, basketball. You can take in a display of national men's NCAA basketball trophies, check out part of the original Fieldhouse floor and even add your voice to the TV coverage of KU's 2008 championship game against Memphis.
Displays cover every decade of KU athletics, and a wall of photos showcases notable athletes in KU's history.
And, of course, don't forget Massachusetts Street.
Known locally as "Mass Street," this downtown area is a favorite for locals and visitors and is known for local shops and a great bite to eat.
Here are the websites for several attractions in Lawrence:
- Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau: visitlawrence.com
- Lawrence Visitor Center: www.visitlawrence.com/attractions/lawrence-visitor-center
- Spencer Museum of Art: www.spencerart.ku.edu
- Booth Family Hall of Athletics: www.kuathletics.com/facilities/kan-booth-hall.html
- KU Natural History Museum: naturalhistory.ku.edu
- City of Lawrence: www.ci.lawrence.ks.us
- Outdoor Aquatic Center: lawrenceks.org/lprd/aquatics/oac
- Clinton Lake: www.nwk.usace.army.mil/cl/