Rachel Carter

Amazing Streetscapes in America’s Crossroads


Rachel Carter
Published March 01, 2018

Bars, breweries and brewpubs; restaurants, cafes and coffee shops; theaters, concert venues and outdoor amphitheaters; art galleries, art museums and art centers. Historically, downtowns were the heart of the city. Today, downtown districts are pumping new life into communities with locally owned businesses and independent eateries that showcase these cities’ local flavors and distinctive flair.

Here are some downtowns worth visiting in America’s Crossroads regions.


Lawrence, Kansas

Downtown Lawrence has been the heart of the city since its founding in 1854, and Massachusetts Street is still the heart of Lawrence’s historic downtown today.

Mass Street, or simply Mass, as the locals call it, is the main drag, and “we have all kinds of activities happening, day and night,” said Andrea Johnson, director of marketing and communications for Explore Lawrence.

Mass is lined with restaurants, bars and live-music venues that are booked with both local and touring musical acts. Many groups will put together a downtown dine-around or a pub crawl for an evening out, Johnson said.

The Free State Brewing Company is Kansas’ oldest brewery and has separate rooms for group dining and gatherings. Merchants Pub and Plate, which is housed in a historic bank with the original vault, offers various group-dining options.

Final Friday is an art walk the last Friday of every month, and in the spring and summer, the city shuts down the street in front of the Granada Theater for the Live on Mass free outdoor concert series.

Groups can visit the Lawrence Arts Center anytime, and the center also hosts the annual Free State Festival, a celebration of film, art, music and ideas.

Shopping is a major downtown draw, with a mix of high-end national chains and hip local boutiques. Weaver’s department store on Mass opened in 1857 and is the oldest continuously operating department store west of the Mississippi, Johnson said.

Groups also have several new and not-so-new lodging options in downtown, including a modern TownePlace Suites and the Eldridge Hotel, which was twice burned down by pro-slavery forces and is a “really cool, elegant, historic” hotel.


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