#4. Lawrence, KS
Why It’s a Great Place to Go to College: Rock chalk, Jayhawk anyone? Perhaps you’ve heard this eerie chant while watching the University of Kansas’ Division 1 athletic teams over the years. But sports aren’t all that KU offers. In addition to some serious school spirit, you’ll also find more than 400 degree and certificate programs and tons of research opportunities at the state’s flagship institution. KU’s robust Center for Undergraduate Research, for example, can help you start exploring research topics you’re interested in or pair you with a mentor.
Why It’s a Great Place to Live (Even If You’re Not a Student): When you live in Lawrence, you’re surrounded by educated people — roughly 55 percent of residents have a college degree. On top of that, there are a number of job-creating manufacturing facilities located in Lawrence (including one for Hallmark greeting cards!), and it’s just a short drive to Kansas City. There are lots of family-friendly activities for kids, too, such as indoor and outdoor aquatic centers, the Laugh Out Loud Family Zone and KU’s Natural History Museum. For these reasons and more, Lawrence clocked in at #23 on the 2018 Best Places to Live list.
What Sets It Apart From Other College Towns: Lawrence likes to do its own thing — it’s quirky, progressive and full of life. This attitude likely stems from the fact that Lawrence was founded by abolitionists who wanted to make sure Kansas was a state where people of all races could be free. With a population of roughly 95,000 people, Lawrence is not too big and not too small — there’s a deep sense of community here and tons to eat, drink, see and do.
Iconic Pizza Place: Papa Keno’s
Brunch Spot: Ladybird Diner
Tailgating Must-Have: A six-pack from Free State Beer, which has been brewing craft beer in Lawrence since 1989.
Shopping Street: Massachusetts (“Mass”) Street
Best Local Hangover Cure: A breakfast burrito stuffed with chicken tenders, eggs, curly fries and cheese from the aptly named Wake the Dead Breakfast Bar.
Best Place to Grab a Cheap Beer: Louise’s West
Local Dream Job: Educator at the Watkins Museum of History, a free museum dedicated to local history, including Civil War artifacts and exhibits.