When you get an unusual—but safe—opportunity to explore small-town America during a global pandemic, what do you do? You dive right in, of course! …So there I was, gearing up to attend my all-time favorite Wanderful event, the Women In Travel Summit. And Wanderful is offering a ton of virtual tours and press trips, because it’s all the rage in travel right now. So I applied to check out Lawrence, Kansas. And I was ultimately selected. How does a virtual tour or press trip even work? What do you do? I mean… WHAT? Well, friends—keep on reading and learn all about it.
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Why Lawrence, Kansas?
Because it’s everything Global Debauchery is all about. I’m 1000% into promoting unexpected destinations. And creating memories and experiences where you might not otherwise think to look for them. Whether it’s Lincoln, Nebraska; Franklin, Tennessee; or… Lawrence, Kansas. And why the hell not? Were you busy traveling somewhere else during your pandemic? (Didn’t think so.)
Lawrence, Kansas is a city of about 95,000 residents and is a quick 40 minutes west of Kansas City. It’s home to both the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University, the only inter-tribal university for Native Americans. It’s located right between the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, and its entire downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With vibrant art and music scenes to boot, what’s not to love?
What’s A Virtual Press Trip?
Consider it just another creative way to get out and experience what the world has to offer. Virtually. Virtual tours and press trips are done in any number of ways. The awesome folks of Lawrence, Kansas decided to put together a series of videos (with an introduction from the mayor himself!) and show us all over downtown. We also received super fun gift boxes, filled with goodies from local merchants, and participated in a little trivia along the way.
The end result was an hour-long testament to all the reasons Lawrence, Kansas makes for the perfect travel destination once the world starts to reopen again.
The Unmistakably Historic Lawrence, Kansas
Listed one of the best-preserved communities in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Lawrence, Kansas was established in 1854. Lawrence has a long and storied history, of course, but was essentially labeled the “anti-slavery capital” of Kansas until 1861, when Kansas was formally declared a state by Congress… and until the start of the Civil War.
Construction of the city’s Watkins Museum of History was actually started in 1855 by J.B. Watkins (of thee J.B. Watkins Land Mortgage Company, to be a national bank). And the building itself is now literally the most substantial exhibit of the entire museum. And the museum was one of the many stops on our virtual tour.
The Unmistakable Capital of Basketball
Did you know the inventor of basketball is buried in Lawrence, Kansas? Yep. Dr. James Naismith invented it in Massachusetts and brought the game over with him. He’d end up living and coaching in Lawrence most of his adult life. You can even find his original rules of basketball in the DeBruce Center, right next to the Allen Fieldhouse. Dr. Naismith was once quoted as saying, “…basketball was born in Massachusetts, but it grew up in Kansas.” And, for this reason, Lawrence is referred to as “the Cradle of Basketball.”
And, of course, we can’t forget the University of Kansas men’s basketball team, who are consistently ranked amongst the top teams in the nation. We actually got a virtual mini tour of the athletic facilities, and I feel a little special. It’s called the Jayhawk Experience and you can get behind-the-scenes access to a bunch of KU’s iconic sports facilities.
The Unmistakably Vibrant Arts Scene
One thing that really struck me is Lawrence’s huge arts and music scene. I honestly had no idea. There are a bunch of museums and venues… the Lawrence Arts Center, the Spencer Museum of Art, the Lied Center Kansas, and Theatre Lawrence. In fact, one of my favorite parts of my virtual tour was the Lied Center’s super creative video, which featured a plethora of performance artists.
There are also endless festivals and activities. Whether its the Final Fridays Art Walk (held year-round on the last Friday of every month), the Haskell Indian Art Market, the Lawrence Busker Festival, or the Free State Festival, you won’t get bored in Lawrence, Kansas. See a whole calendar of events right here. (It’s a lot for a small town!)
The Unmistakably Cool Local Merchants of Lawrence, Kansas
You can’t skip over all the hip small businesses on downtown’s Massachusetts Street either. Waxman Candles, for example, is a family-owned business operating for over fifty years with locations in both Lawrence and Chicago. BodyTruth Soap Apothecary was kind enough to gift us some amazingly fragrant bath soaps. And you will 1000% catch me visiting Mud & Lotus when I visit Lawrence—rent a hot tub and sauna space here, or get a spa treatment.
There are lots of cool-sounding restaurants and bars, too. Mass Street Soda has over a thousand different kinds of sodas, which… the #AdventurePartnerForLife would absolutely love. Plus, the RPG game bar with mead on tap. And Free State Brewing Company, the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years.
So, Ask Me Again: Why Lawrence, Kansas?
I mean… seems legit to me. It’s got all the fixings for a fun, small-town experience in my book. And it’ll be added to my list for whenever I’m in the neighborhood next. Which, these days, could be anytime. Have you ever been to Kansas? What about Lawrence, Kansas? Because it would certainly seem to me that you need o add it to your list, too. Stop by the eXplore Lawrence Visitors Center for the latest and greatest happenings in this cool little city.