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Weekender: Visit Lawrence

While Kansas City is known as the Midwest’s best keep secret, it’s no secret that its neighboring town, Lawrence, is a gem that resembles a charming town you would stumble upon in Colorado. Known as home to the Jayhawks, Lawrence offers a great destination for a weekend getaway. Small niche shops and eateries line Mass Street, and a visit to the campus certainly doesn't disappoint. If you are looking for a quick getaway without having to travel far, look no further than a visit to Lawrence. 

The Natural History Museum

KU Natural History Museum

biodiversity.ku.edu

785-864-4450

Located on campus directly adjacent to the union, The Natural History Museum is a free, family favorite that has something for everyone. The University of Kansas Natural History Museum, part of the KU Biodiversity Institute, a designated KU research center, is home to four floors of public natural history exhibits showcasing the past and present life of the planet. Exhibits include the historic Panorama created for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, live snakes and insects, a unique living Paleo Garden, vertebrate and invertebrate fossils including a 45-foot-long Mosasaur marine reptile, highlights of the flora and fauna of the Great Plains and more. The museum also provides content-rich, hands-on informal science learning for school groups, a wide range of public programs and events for all ages, and a gift shop with science-based toys and games. The museum is free for the public with a suggested donation of $7 for adults and $4 for children. 

Hours:

Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Location:

Dyche Hall

1345 Jayhawk Blvd.

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS 66045

Frisbee Golf Courses:

Bring your disks and spend a few hours on one of the many frisbee golf courses in Lawrence. Our favorite courses include Bob Mowery's Meadows, Edgewood and Centennial Park, but there are many other options around town of varying difficulty. 

Where to Eat: 715

715 is both uniquely fresh yet oddly familiar—it’s almost like eating at your favorite restaurant, but for the very first time. From the shiny disco ball above the entryway, to the eye-catching wall of wine and spirits, to the beautiful open kitchen that allows you to see the kitchen staff hard at work, taking great care to prepare everything on the menu, you’ll notice everything was curated intentionally, even down to the delicate mismatched vintage China plates.

This award winning, locally owned and operated downtown restaurant is known for its inventive cocktails, extensive wine list and delicious handmade food from Executive Chef Kelly Conwell.

“I went to school at Johnson County Community College and then studied abroad in Germany for a year, going to school and working,” Chef Kelly says. “When I got back, I got my first sous chef position at The Raphael Hotel, where I was an apprentice before I left for Germany. All the changes that have happened in my culinary career have been organic, not necessarily looking for a change, but someone mentions an opportunity, someone reaches out, and things kind of fall into place. I never thought I wanted to get into pastry. I knew I loved savory cooking, and think I wanted to rebel against it…it sounds silly now.”

From there, Chef Kelly became a pastry sous chef at Bluestem, a pastry chef at Jax Fish House, executive pastry chef at Stock Hill, and chef at YaYa’s.

“Matt Hyde, the owner of 715, popped into my Instagram DM’s asking if I would ever be interested in working in Lawrence. My first thought was no, but I learned from mentors that it never hurts to have a conversation—if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know about new opportunities. So, we met at a coffee shop, and Matt and 715 partner Katrina Weiss and I hit it off. We talked for hours. Then, my husband and I went to Lawrence and had dinner, and everything was just so perfect. The space was beautiful, the food was amazing, the staff was awesome. I think the biggest factor was that I would get to be doing my food again—making specials and getting back into desserts was a big pivot from what I was doing, and I missed it.”

The menu at 715 is constantly changing.

“We have a ton of regulars, so switching the menu up is important to me. They can come in and get the OG things they love, like the Penne Rage or spaghetti, or look on the right side of our menu for specials. I have an amazing talented staff that comes up with dishes that we tweak and create together, putting new spins on oldies-but-goodies since we opened in 2009.”

Some of 715’s most popular menu items include the crab ravioli made with mascarpone and ricotta filled pasta, butter-poached crab, cognac cream and herbs, and their goat cheese croquettes made with truffle honey, aged balsamic aioli and herbs. Also, the lasagna Bolognese made of braised pork and beef, béchamel, tomato and parmesan is nothing short of life changing. Try the Lumache alla vodka snail-shaped pasta made with tomato vodka sauce, fresh basil, parmesan, and add shrimp—it’s the one pasta Chef Kelly put on the menu and is her personal favorite.

Save room for dessert inspired by Chef Kelly—certain words will jump off the menu and make you smile, like the Not So Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. Don’t miss the warm dark chocolate soufflé cake made with dark cherries, toffee, Madagascar vanilla ice cream and white chocolate. Trust me, order it all.

“The overarching idea that we try to focus on is the honest belief that going out to eat is special. Decisions we make about the menu content, menu design, music, lighting, even things like the way the flatware feels in your hand...all of this matters."

715 is located at 715 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence. For more information, visit 715mass.com.

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