Living Lawrence

Lawrence is a great place to live, work and play, so we’ve included the Living Lawrence page on our website as a helpful resource. Read about it here, but definitely bookmark it on your computer, tablet or Smartphone because you’ll want to refer to it often – for lots of different things. Here’s an overview of what you will find at stephensre.com/buy-your-home/living-lawrence.

Essential Information is the stuff you don’t often need, but is important to have handy. Find contact information for the police, sheriff and fire departments, along with a link to the Lawrence Public School District and Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Life gets tricky without our Utilities and Services. If you’re new to the area and need to connect gas and water service, or if your electricity is out, this section will help you find the people who can fix you up. We also include links that will be helpful if you need a driver’s license or a car tag.

It’s easy to see that Lawrence embraces the arts. Check out our Museums, Art & Theatre area which will direct you to the dynamic Lawrence Arts Center or Van Go, the arts-based social service program. In addition, you can connect to Final Fridays’ site, a free monthly arts festival which allows artists to showcase their work throughout our town. Find information for area museums, Theatre Lawrence and the Lawrence Children’s Choir as well.

Community Resources will give you links to everything from city recycling to the Health Department and the Boys & Girls Club. You may find a much needed service or a much desired volunteer opportunity, and you will definitely recognize that Lawrence is a resource-rich community!

The University of Kansas is its own bustling community within our city. We have included links to schedules, entertainment opportunities and events at KU.

Your options for recreational activities are many in Lawrence. Our Parks & Rec section has info about area parks, trails, tourism and sports as well as classes for adults and children throughout the year. Here you will find a link to the LPRD Activities Guide.

Downtown Lawrence is the heart of our city. Find information for activities, learn a little history, double-check the dates of the Farmer’s Market or find out what’s going on at the library.

We hope you will find our Living Lawrence page a helpful resource. With offices in Lawrence and Baldwin City, and a team of real estate professionals who are second to none, we’re your locally owned, independent real estate resource. Call us at 785.841.4500, or Contact Us.

Lawrence’s Epic Desserts

Content courtesy of unmistakablylawrence.com / Kate Hartland

Sometimes, you have a craving that a savory bite just won’t satisfy. You want creamy and cool, or perhaps warm and spicy. You want a little crunch, a little melt-in-your-mouth, a little sweetness. You want dessert, and here in Lawrence we say you can have your strawberry rhubarb pie and eat it, too.

The truth of the matter is, you can’t come to Lawrence and walk around Mass St. without indulging in an afternoon pick-me-up or post-dinner stop at Sylas and Maddy’s. Ask anyone and they will tell you that they have the best ice cream you can find, in town or otherwise. The shop opened in 1999 and has been locally owned and operated from the get-go. Once you walk in and smell the ice cream and waffle cones they make fresh every day, you won’t need much of an excuse to come back and try every flavor.

Wheatfields was President Obama’s stop of choice when he came to speak at KU, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his decision was based heavily on the extensive and mouth-watering bakery selection. Wheatfields always stuns with their handcrafted, fresh-every-day bread, but you should know that their desserts and pastries are just as well-crafted. Inside this no-frills cafe, baskets are filled with chocolate croissants, brioche, and muffins, and trays are lined with lemon raspberry butter cookies, palmiers, tarts, and macarons. They also have seasonal cakes, tiramisu, and a chocolate torte. The only way you can go wrong is if you leave with just one thing.

At this point, we’re guessing you’ve heard: Ladybird has pie. Good pie. Award-winning, dream-frequenting pie with thick, flaky crust and a delectable and ever-changing selection of fillings. My personal favorite is the strawberry rhubarb, but you won’t find me saying no to a slice of chocolate cream or blackberry. Really, what flavor would I turn down? Ladybird knows you need your fix, so stop in and sit at the counter or take a few slices to go.

If you’re out getting a few things for dinner and feel like a nice sweet treat would round out the evening well, check out the desserts in the pre-made section at the Merc. Not only are they made fresh in the store, but there are often gluten-free and other allergy-sensitive treats available. I can attest to the moist but delicate lemon cake, and the chocolate mousse cups are incredible.

The Burger Stand is known for their namesake and those crazy good truffle fries. But have you caught them on a night when the ice cream machine is up and running? The milkshakes, both alcoholic and non, are a treat to behold. It’s almost enough fun just to read through the menu of unique flavors, but when the frosted glass slides your way, you’ll be glad you picked one.

Lawrence is nothing if not unique, and I think having a food truck that serves Crème Brulee certainly fits that vibe. If you’re lucky enough to find Torched Goodness at a festival or around town, you will not be disappointed. Flavors range from salted caramel to chipotle infused chocolate with a little orange blossom and white raspberry in between. Check the truck’s Twitter for location updates so you can watch your very own Crème Brulee torched before your eyes.

We’ve touched on a few of the delectable desserts around town, but there are sweets aplenty all around town. Ask your Stephens agent for their personal recommendation. And when you’re ready to buy or sell your home, call us first. We know Lawrence and we’re ready to help.

Some spirits just find it hard to leave Lawrence. Who can blame them?

(Content thanks to www.unmistakablylawrence.com)

With a pre-Civil War history as fiery and volatile as ours, Lawrence has more than a few ghosts and haunts. In fact, Lawrence’s history of urban legends is exactly why Eric Kripke, creator of the cult drama, Supernatural, chose Lawrence as the birthplace of evil fighting adventurers, Sam and Dean Winchester. (We see you, Supernatural fans).

Eldridge Hotel - Colonel Shalor Eldridge rebuilt the Eldridge hotel TWICE! The original Free State Hotel was attacked and burned in 1856, rebuilt then burned to the ground again during Quantrill’s Raid in 1863. Col. Eldridge has been making his presence felt at The Eldridge since his death, especially in room 506 which holds one of the original building’s cornerstones. (Some say the cornerstone is a portal to the spirit world.) Be sure to check out the picture at the front desk and decide for yourself if that’s an apparition you see in the elevator (another hot spot for paranormal activity). According to legend, the Colonel’s chair has been sitting in storage, unmoved for years… but it never collects dust!

Merchants Pub & Plate - The building that is home to one of Lawrence’s classiest restaurants was originally built as Merchant’s National Bank in 1872. The staircase in the restaurant has been the place staff and diners have reported feeling an eerie presence and some report seeing an apparition on the steps.

Sigma Nu Fraternity - The Victorian mansion of former Kansas governor, William Stubbs, is now home to KU’s chapter of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. Frat members throughout the decades have reported creepy encounters with a female spirit. Legend has it Governor Stubbs servant and rumored mistress, Virginia, hung herself in the residence and is the source of these haunts. The paranormal encounters include sightings of a ghostly female shape, flickering lights and the sounds of footsteps and slamming doors.

Pioneer Cemetery - Quantrill’s Raid of 1863 left 200 dead and the town in flames. Pioneer Cemetery was the repository of a mass grave on that fateful day. A few ghosts still linger there.

Stull Cemetery - Perhaps the most terrifying of Lawrence area supernatural legends is that of the Stull Cemetery (about 10 miles west of Lawrence). The basement of the abandoned church that stood on the property until 2002 has been said to be a “gateway to hell.” Legend tells us that even when the roof of the crumbling church was no longer, it would never rain inside and glass bottles thrown against the church walls would not shatter. The church is no longer standing – it was mysteriously torn down one night in 2002. The legend of the Stull Cemetery has made its way into pop culture through music, film, and television. Today, signs on the gates around the cemetery read “no trespassing.” Unfortunately, the cemetery has seen vandalism over the years and Stull residents aren’t too keen on outsiders. If you do decide to visit, only explore the cemetery during times that the gates are open. When the cemetery is closed, trespassing could bring a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Want a guided ghost tour of Lawrence? Check out www.ghosttoursofkansas.com. For a self-guided tour pick up a copy of “Historic Cemeteries Tour of Lawrence” at the Lawrence Visitors Information Center, 402 N. 2nd Street.

Farms for Every Season

(unmistakablylawrence.com / Meryl Carver-Allmond)

Apples so delicious and red, you would swear they’re from a fairytale. Asparagus poking out of the ground like an alien plant. Lavender so intoxicating you’ll have a relaxed aromatherapy buzz for days after smelling it. Lawrence’s local farms have all of that, plus some of the nicest farmers you’ll ever meet.

Here are a few of our family’s seasonal favorite farms that regularly welcome visitors. For most, their hours (and picking availability, where applicable) vary by season, so be sure to give them a call before you head out. No matter what season you’re here, there’s almost always something wonderful growing at these local farms!


Pendleton’s Country Market - The Pendletons’ farm has so much activity going on year-round that it’s hard to pigeonhole it into a season, but, if you’ve never picked your own asparagus before, you simply must head out in the spring. Early in the season—their average first picking date is April 15th—the asparagus stalks emerge from the ground, fully formed, just as you see them at the grocery store. It’s like something from an episode of Star Trek. Despite its otherworldly appearance, though, asparagus is easy and quick to pick, even for little hands. And the taste? Well, that is truly out of this world!

Wohletz Farm Fresh - There is nothing that says “spring” to me more than a fresh-picked, sun-warmed strawberry, and Wohletz is the most reliable pick-your-own spot we’ve found. Depending on the weather, picking typically starts sometime in May, and you can sign up for their email list to get a heads up about when to head out. (Strawberry season in Kansas can be a “blink and you’ll miss it” affair, and, trust me, you don’t want to miss it!)


Washington Creek Lavender - I think heaven must be a little bit like Washington Creek’s lavender drying barn. The sunlight gently beams through the windows; purple lavender buds are artfully scattered across the floor. But the thing you’ll never forget is the smell—it’s heady, ethereal, inebriating. While you can’t pick lavender from the fields, visitors are welcome to walk about and take pictures. If you simply must take some lavender home with you—and you should—you can buy some from their store, which is generally open Wednesday through Sunday in the summer.

The Lawrence Farmers’ Market - While the Lawrence Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday morning from April to November, it is especially vibrant in summer. Grab a breakfast burrito or a muffin, and listen to local musicians play as you stroll from booth to booth. Pick up a rainbow basket of peppers. Enjoy a tomato tasting and take home a few of your favorites. Buy a bottle of local honey to sample the local terroir. Really, there’s no way to do this one wrong.


Vertacnik Orchard - Dave and Wendy Vertacnik’s apples always feel a bit like something out of a story to me. Juicy, rosy, sweet—they’re the kind of apple you want to present to your favorite teacher in early September, or what you picture a wicked witch conjuring up to tempt a princess. Vertacnik Orchard is small and simple, so it’s perfect for a quick stop or—as we are wont to do—many repeat visits over the course of a season.

Schaake’s Pumpkin Patch - Schaake’s (pronounced shock-E’s) began as a children’s roadside pumpkin stand, and has grown into a whole family affair. From the last weekend in September to Halloween, the entire Schaake family can be found driving tractors for hay rack rides, helping snap pictures in their photo area, and selling cider slushies. Unlike many local pumpkin patches, all of the activities at Schaake’s—other than concessions and the pumpkins you take home—are free, making it fun for grown-ups and children alike.

Chestnut Charlie’s - While you may have seen hulled chestnuts in the store, chestnuts in the wild are a much more interesting nut. Covered with a porcupine-like husk, they’re a beautiful—if somewhat prickly—Autumn jewel. Chestnut Charlie’s is a regular at the Saturday Lawrence Farmers’ Market in the Fall—go try a cone of hot, freshly roasted chestnuts—but they also offer limited pick-your-own opportunities at their farm, usually in early October. They have so many folks who want to come out that they require reservations, so be sure to call ahead (and bring some sturdy gloves) if you want to try your hand at gathering your own chestnuts.


Coal Creek Farm Alpacas - If you’re a knitter—or even if you just like knitted hats and scarves—winter is a good time to visit Coal Creek Farm Alpacas. At their on-farm “Simple Living Country Store” (open Saturdays 10-4 all year; Sundays from 1-4 between Thanksgiving and Christmas) you can get all stocked up on yarn, roving, hats, gloves, scarves, and mittens, all made from alpaca fleece. Visitors are also welcome to visit and feed the alpacas even when the store isn’t open (they have an honor box donation system), or join them for a fiber arts class (email for the current schedule).

Davenport Orchards and Winery - If you have a free day and a designated driver you should go on a Douglas County wine tasting tour. Four vineyards (Davenport, Bluejacket Crossing, Crescent Moon, and Haven Pointe) call Lawrence home, and they’re all charming. However, if you can just go to one, it has to be Davenport. Davenport does a wonderful job with the local Norton and Seyval grapes, but where they really shine is their fruit wines. The website description of their rhubarb wine says, “You haven’t lived….”, and I think that might be an understatement. A bottle of their crisp apple wine will get you a permanent invite to any Thanksgiving dinner you bring it to. Go have a taste, but be prepared to buy a case—you’re going to want to take some of this wine home.

Stephens Real Estate is an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Contact us or call 785-841-4500.

5 Aging-in-place Bathroom Upgrades to Make While You're Younger

(BPT) Is it ever too early to think about aging in place, and making home improvements that will allow you to remain living in the same house well into your golden years? Homeowners in their 60s and 70s are no longer the only Americans investing thought and money into preparing their homes to meet their needs as they grow older.

Wider doorways and open floor plans "can enhance the quality of life in a home even as they make the home safer ... and can be just as beneficial to a homeowner in their 30s or 40s as they are to a homeowner in their 70s or 80s," according to Brad Hunter, HomeAdvisor’s chief economist.

Incorporating universal design principles into your home can facilitate aging-in-place goals, while comfortably addressing the diverse needs of all ages and mobility levels using your home. Features like single-story design, bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor, daylighting through larger windows and skylights, and wider doors and hallways appeal to users of all ages.

However, if you're considering aging-in-place upgrades, making improvements in the bathroom can deliver the greatest return on your investment. The bathroom is often referred to as the most dangerous room in the home for all ages, but especially for seniors with increased risk of falling in showers or bathtubs, or around the toilet area. Here are bathroom improvements to consider:

Replace a step-in bathtub with a walk-in option - Tub manufacturers offer a range of solutions with walk-in bathtubs designed to provide enjoyable bathing with safer accessibility. For example, the American Standard walk-in bathtub includes an outward opening door for easier access, molded seating for added comfort, and convenient grab bars for security.

Shower seating - Adding seating in a shower - whether a removable chair or bench, or built-in options - can allow you to relax in the shower with less fear of falling.

Chair-height toilets - Standard toilets have a bowl height of about 14 to 15 inches. Toilets with higher bowls at 16-1/2 inches, similar to the familiar height of a chair, make it easier for everyone to stand up without a lot of effort.

Pedestal sinks - Standard sinks are about 30 inches high. Installing a higher sink to reduce the amount of bending a user needs to do is another worthwhile bathroom improvement. While you can find vanity sinks set at a higher level, pedestal sinks of about 36 inches high have even more advantages. The slimmer, sleeker profile of a pedestal provides more maneuverable floor space for people with mobility issues or those using wheelchairs or walkers.

Easy-to-use faucets - Twist faucets can be difficult to manage for people with arthritis or decreased flexibility, as well as for small children just learning to use the facilities. Lever-style or single-handle faucets make controlling the water flow much easier for people of all ages and with varying skill levels.

Universal design home improvements can benefit all ages within your home. Making these upgrades at a younger age can prepare your home to meet your needs in your golden years, while allowing you to enjoy the comforts early on.

Contact us or call 785.841.4500 to talk about housing options that are right for you.

Liberty Hall

There’s no shortage of historic buildings with interesting stories in Lawrence, and Liberty Hall is one such place. After being destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt in 1911 in the Beaux-Arts style with an Imperial Roman façade. This impressive structure may be over 100 years old, but is still a thriving business in downtown Lawrence.

LIBERTY HALL as we know it today has hosted a variety of live events ranging from Willie Nelson to Wu Tang Clan, in an intimate setting with a state of the art concert hall sound system. Liberty Hall has been voted Lawrence’s Best Music Venue for three years straight. It has acted as a community-meeting house since 1856, and hosts regular screenings and lectures that promote culture and civility in Lawrence, KS.

LIBERTY HALL VIDEO is located directly on the corner of 7th and Massachusetts Street and boasts an enormous collection of DVD, VHS, and Blu-ray titles for rent. Liberty Hall Video has a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and great prices. Enjoy two-for-one rentals every day, or sign-up for the Uranium Option: unlimited rentals with no late fees for just a small monthly charge.

LA PRIMA TAZZA is a European style coffee house that serves the best in Fair Trade coffee and specialty drinks on Massachusetts Street. They claim it is home to the most experienced and loveable baristas in downtown Lawrence. La Prima Tazza has been voted Best Coffee in Lawrence for three years straight, and is the perfect spot to work on a project, chat with a friend, or contemplate life’s big questions over a hot brew.

LIBERTY HALL CINEMA shows the latest in first-run independent, foreign, and art house films on two screens. Liberty Hall Cinema also offers monthly creative special screenings of classic and soon-to-be-classic films on the big screen. They offer a traditional movie theater concession stand with the addition of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Liberty Hall’s website, libertyhall.net, is where you can find the information above along with Showtimes, Live Event Details and more. Stephens Real Estate appreciates what this locally owned business offers. We are also locally owned and operated; have been since 1978. Contact us when you’re ready to buy or sell your home. Contact us or call 785.841.4500 when you’re ready to buy or sell your home.

The Cradle of Basketball

(Content thanks to www.unmistakablylawrence.com)

No other city in the United States can boast an array of basketball history like Lawrence. Although the game was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas is where the game of basketball “came of age.” That’s why we’re often called the “Cradle of Basketball.”

The University of Kansas has the only college basketball program founded by the inventor of the game, James Naismith. His original “Rules of Basket Ball” are displayed in the DeBruce Center, a unique facility that explores the rich history of basketball. Right next door is the legendary Allen Fieldhouse (the loudest place to watch a game) and the Booth Family Hall of Athletics which honors the greatest athletes in University’s history, including Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce and many more.

With three NCAA National Championships, it’s safe to say that Lawrence is embedded in basketball history. For a little history: Dr. James Naismith invented the game of 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, becoming the school’s 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 beloved Phog Allen is the fourth most successful coach in the history of college basketball and KU’s winningest coach of all time. He was instrumental in the movement to bring basketball to the Olympic games. While Naismith is often called “the father of basketball,” he reportedly coined Allen the “father of basketball coaching.” It is in reference to this beloved coach that his statue stands in front of the Fieldhouse that bears his name and Jayhawk fans warn opponents to “Beware of the Phog.”

To learn more about the rich history of basketball in Lawrence and visit several locations around town, we recommend you go to UnmistakablyLawrence.com to download and print the Cradle of Basketball Itinerary. From this site you may also listen to the recently discovered, only known audio recording of James Naismith from a 1939 radio broadcast, as he describes the creation of the game. And the induction ceremony of Wilt Chamberlain, aka Wilt the Stilt and The Big Dipper, is also found on UnmistakablyLawrence.com. Watch as his jersey is hung among the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, along with those of other basketball greats who hailed from old KU.

Some of the game’s most successful coaches and players have a connection to KU’s basketball tradition, thus the term “Cradle of Basketball.” Another reason to love life in Lawrence, Kansas!

Stephens is proud of our community and its fascinating history. We’re an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

The Historic Trails of Douglas County

(unmistakablylawrence.com / Meryl Carver-Allmond)

As a child, I remember driving Kansas back roads at night with my grandparents. It was a black ocean of grass and a sky awash with stars. As I looked out my window, I would imagine what it must have felt like for the people who traveled it before, in covered wagons lurching and creaking across the prairie. Did the boundlessness of it make them feel lonely? Or did they stare up at that gigantic sky with the same wonder I felt?

I didn’t know it then, but two significant wagon trails did pass through Kansas—in fact, both near Lawrence. The Santa Fe Trail went just south of town, through Baldwin City. The Oregon Trail went right over the top of Mount Oread.

And, if you’ve got an afternoon to spare and a good map, you can still travel them both yourself.

Douglas County has several markers and land features, that still exist from both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. It’s a journey of signposts and fields, mostly, but it’s also a journey of the imagination. It’s one thing to read that wagons crossed the Wakarusa River; it’s another to see the steep banks of the river and think about getting a 2000 pound wagon across. It’s one thing to read that the little trading-post of Brooklyn was the last casualty of Quantrill’s Raid; it’s another to see the blank field and gravestone-like markers, which are all that remain.

Driving the Trails Today

Both trails began in Independence, Missouri, and followed the same route until they split in Gardner, Kansas, just east of the Douglas County line. From there, the Santa Fe Trail went south, while the Oregon Trail went north.

While I’ve hit some of the highlights of both trails below, you’ll definitely want to download a map or pick up a copy of the self-guided driving tour brochure at the Lawrence Visitor Center (402 N. 2nd Street) to get good directions before you head out. Driving each trail should take you about 2 hours, including time for quick stops at the more interesting spots.

The Santa Fe Trail

Beginning at the Eastern side of Douglas County, the first significant milestone on the Santa Fe Trail is the Battle of Black Jack site on Highway 56. While the battle site will also be interesting for Civil War historians, for Santa Fe Trail purposes, you’ll definitely want to see the wagon ruts.

From the parking area at the battle site, follow the easy-to-spot footbridge off into the field, where a sign points to two large indentions that run parallel to each other. The ruts were made by wagons, which traveled as many as four across to ward off attacks.

Next, head towards Baldwin City. Palmyra, which has since been annexed to Baldwin, used to be a booming little community, with several blacksmiths, a hotel, and a well to service travelers. Only the well remains, and, although it has long since been capped off, it’s worth a quick stop.

Several parts of the next section of the trail, which winds through gravel roads, travel right along the original Santa Fe Trail route through a section called “The Narrows”. Wagons used the winding route across the ridge to avoid the getting stuck in the drainage of the rivers on either side (the Kansas to the North and the Marais des Cygnes to the South).

Next, you’ll reach the marker for Brooklyn. Brooklyn was a small village and trading post in the early trail days, until William Quantrill and his men retreated South on August 21, 1863. The raiders burned the entire village, and all that now remains is a sign post and a small trail marker.

From Brooklyn cross Highway 59 to see Willow Springs—also marked by trail marker—which was a good source of water for parched livestock, as well as their human companions.

Last, about 12 miles West of Baldwin City, you can see Simmons Point Stage Station, where travelers could get fresh mules and a night’s lodging. The remains of the Station are still somewhat visible from the road, but they’re on private property so be sure not to trespass. From there, the Santa Fe Trail loosely follows Highway 56 into Osage County and onward to Council Grove.

The Oregon Trail

If you want to follow the Oregon Trail through Douglas County, I recommend stopping first in Eudora. While Eudora was slightly north of the most common trail route, the Eudora Community Museum (720 Main St.; open Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5 p.m.) is a jewel of information.

As he generously pulled out maps and artifacts for me to see, the museum’s director, Ben Terwilliger, emphasized that while we think of the Oregon Trail as being like a highway, it wasn’t just one road. “It wasn’t just one trail. People were constantly trying slightly different routes,” Terwilliger said.

This is true in the area around Eudora, where some people arrived via the Northern “Westport Road” and others took the Southern route that is more commonly marked on maps today.

But, however they arrived, once they got to Eastern Douglas County, all Oregon Trail travelers had to cross the Wakarusa River.

Earlier travelers—including William Quantrill and his band—most commonly crossed at one of several places now lumped together as Bluejacket Crossing. While much of that area is now on private property, one of the ramps used to get to the river is about 800 yards from the current Highway 10 Bridge. While the ramp used to be carved with traveler’s initials, river erosion and construction have washed most of the visible landmarks away.

Later travelers had the advantage of crossing at Blanton’s Bridge, which was built by James Abbott in 1854, in an area later claimed by Napoleon Blanton. While the original bridge is now gone, of course, it was located where what is now Highway 40 crosses the Wakarusa.

If you drive the Bluejacket Route, be sure to look to the Southwest for the Blue Mound, a navigational aid on the trail. (You can’t miss it.) If you opt to follow Highway 40 to Blanton’s Bridge, look southeast as you head up towards the high ground in Lawrence. (The mound is also particularly visible from the top of the hill at 23rd Street and Wakarusa.)

The next significant marker on the Oregon Trail is on top of Mount Oread, in Lawrence. There, a large stone memorial sits on the Southwest side of the Chi Omega Fountain, to mark the path that wagons took over the hill.

From there, the trail loosely joins up with Highway 40 to the edge of Douglas County. While the hilly twists of the highway make for an entertaining drive, wagons would have followed the high ground to avoid expending unnecessary energy going up and down the hills.

Just before you cross into Shawnee County, you’ll reach the unincorporated town of Big Springs. While it is the oldest settlement in Douglas County, its heyday was during the Oregon Trail era. It stopped growing when railroads were built elsewhere—eventually losing its post office in 1903—but the United Brethren Church built in 1856 is still standing now functioning as a Methodist congregation.

Alas, the story of Big Springs is the story of many of the small settlements on both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. As railroads made travel faster, safer, and cheaper post-Civil War, the trails fell into disuse. While some travelers continued to use the trails into the 1890’s, by the 1870’s travel had largely dried up.

When you’re ready to take your imagination on this historic journey, you will find details about these trails along with a map, by looking under Explore / Itineraries at unmistakablylawrence.com. Or pick up a copy of the self-guided driving tour brochure at the Lawrence Visitor Center (402 N. 2nd Street).

Stephens is proud of our community and its fascinating history. We’re an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Contact us or call 785-841-4500.

South Lawrence

South Lawrence is home to residential neighborhoods and its two main thoroughfares, Iowa Street and 23rd Street offer lots of dining and shopping options. It also offers some great options for getting outdoors and discovering nature.

Four miles from the City of Lawrence you’ll find Clinton State Park, 1500-acres on the northeast shore of Clinton Reservoir. It offers a nice balance between recreational areas and natural areas. Native wildlife, wildflowers and prairie grasses are abundant. There’s fishing, boating and water sports, biking/walking and horseback riding trails, campgrounds and cabins. Learn more at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

The Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum is located in Bloomington Park East at Clinton Lake just outside of Lawrence, Kansas. The museum documents the history of this region which was part of the Underground Railroad as well as a hotbed of abolitionism. Housed here are a variety of historical records and objects as well as genealogical records and welcomes research requests.

One of the most diverse habitats in Kansas, the Baker Wetlands encompasses 927 acres of rich, natural wildlife. Students, faculty, and nature lovers have identified 278 species of birds, 98 other vertebrate species, and 487 plant species at the Wetlands — and these counts grow with each adventure. The Baker Wetlands Discovery Center is a large space with panoramic views out over the boardwalk. The center has exhibits on the importance of the wetlands, how they were restored and how they’re being taken care of now. The center also includes spotting scopes, an observatory tower, a research lab, and a classroom space. The Discovery Center at 1365 N 1250 Road is open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and 1 – 4 p.m. on Sunday.

We’ve mentioned this one in another recent article, but it is a wonderful part of South Lawrence and should not be missed. You will find educational and outdoor fun at the Prairie Park Nature Center at 2730 Harper Street. The nature center features prairie, woodlands and wetlands and the five acre Mary’s Lake, just a short walk from the Nature Center. There are walking trails for bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts and those just looking for a quiet stroll outdoors. You may a wide variety of Kansas native wildlife, including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey.

The Nature Center preserve and education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and an area designated for butterfly habitat. There you can see live animals and birds of prey, including owls, hawks, falcons and Kansa, the Bald Eagle.

Stephens Real Estate is proud of the great community in which we live. If you’re ready to buy or sell your home, contact us. We’re ready to help. 785.841.4500

For the kiddos


Safe streets, welcoming venues, clean conditions, and exciting events all make for ideal family fun. But Lawrence businesses and public venues know that kiddos are more than fun-seekers; heck, they’ll soon be the ones writing up our reviews online and telling us where or not the city still has what it takes. So bring it on, Gen YOLO and kids of all ages. We’ve got the family covered. Start with the Calendar of Events at unmistakablylawrence.com. It’s a great resource to stay up on all of the activities in town.

The University of Kansas Natural History Museum features exhibits including live animals, insects, the famous Panorama and displays of fossils and Kansas wildlife. Participate in Museum Scavenger hunts, a museum checklist, summer camps and special events.

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department oversees 54 parks. Popular among them are South Park – including the wading pool for children 6 and under, Buford Watson Park, the Youth Sports Complex, Centennial Park and Clinton Lake Park.

Prairie Park Nature Center, part of Lawrence Parks & Recreation, incorporates wetlands, woodlands, and prairie habitats. The education building features natural habitat dioramas, displays and live animals. Mary’s Lake is just a short walk and is open for public fishing. Visitors may see native KS wildlife including beavers, deer, bobcats and birds of prey. Entry is free.

Lawrence Public Library is a kid-friendly spot where silence is not required. The kids’ area includes a Lego table, reading nooks and lots of fun programs. The Teen Zone has video games and social area. Reserve the recording studio to capture your own tunes or words. The fiction loop is a great place to relax and read.

Departing from Baldwin City, the Midland Railway trains feature a more than 20-mile round trip ride on vintage railway equipment. The trains travel through the scenic Eastern Kansas farmlands and woods. Their calendar includes special events such as “A Day Out with Thomas,” an Easter egg ride and hunt, and a Santa ride.

Lawrence also offers two great aquatic centers, bowling, pet stores aplenty, laser tag, and bounce houses ready to entertain the kiddos. Lawrence is a kid-friendly, great-place-to-raise-a-family town, and we’re happy to call it home.

When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, contact us or call 785.841.4500. We’re ready to help. 

Lawrence will surprise and please you with all the options for arts and culture

Photo by John Clayton.

The arts have been essential to this town since some of the first settlers arrived, packing brass instruments to form a community band. From visual to experimental, Lawrence continues to back the arts because this town knows that what’s good for the arts is good for the community. Come enjoy this rich connection to a flourishing arts environment.

Start with the Lawrence Arts Center, just a block from Massachusetts Street. Here you’ll find 20 to 25 art exhibitions a year. The best in contemporary art is also offered through art talks, live performances and more. Locals of all ages enjoy the classes for dance, printmaking, jewelry, ceramics and arts-based pre-school education. Artists-in-Residence in ceramics and printmaking bring new perspective with their shows and classes, while internationally known artists add a richness that reflects the Lawrence community.

Spencer Museum of Art, located on the University of Kansas campus, has changing exhibits as well as seven galleries displaying selections from the permanent collection of more than 45,000 works of art. Special exhibitions drawn from the collection or touring from other museums are displayed in four additional galleries. The collection spans the history of European, North American, and East Asian art.

The Lied Center of Kansas, located on the west side of the University of Kansas campus, has a busy calendar of events that range from Broadway productions and world-class artistic performances to KU School of Music and the KU Department of Dance productions and recitals of budding artists. The Lied Center serves KU, its students, the Lawrence community and greater Kansas as a catalyst for the arts, creativity and engagement.

Theatre Lawrence works with volunteers to create and deliver extraordinary theatre and educational programs that engage community members of all ages and backgrounds. Theatre Lawrence hosts a season of performances, concerts series, art exhibits and more.

The arts community comes together every month to offer special exhibits, receptions, amazing artwork and more on the last Friday of every month. Final Fridays include activities for kids, exhibitions designed to challenge adults, music, dance and theater for all ages.

This overview just taps the surface of what Lawrence has to offer if you’re looking for arts and culture. Come to Lawrence ready to play. And when you’re ready to buy or sell your home, we’re ready to help. Call Stephens Real Estate at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.

Stephens Real Estate, Inc.
2701 W. Sixth Street
Lawrence, KS 66049

Phone: 785-841-4500
Toll-Free: 1-800-875-4315