Hidden Gems

Opinion columnist Haley Czuma encourages students to find their place in Lawrence by digging beyond its surface. Czuma gives suggestions of the gems she's found during her time at the University of Kansas. 


If you are anything like me, you get antsy being in one spot for too long. Four years ago, when I moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas, panic quickly settled in when I realized I would be spending the majority of my time for the next few years in a small town. I knew typical college activities like going to the Hawk at 2 p.m. on Fridays would eventually become unfulfilling. If I got cabin fever growing up in Chicago, where the possibilities are endless, how was I going to manage in a town like Lawrence?

However, what I did not see about Lawrence when I first arrived was the deeper underlying charm it holds. Yes, of course Massachusetts Street had its own charm and character unique to Lawrence, but it took a little bit of deeper digging for me to fully understand why Lawrence is not only a great college town but overall an amazingly quaint little city that holds more than what is seen on the surface.

Over the years here, I found that searching for restaurants, stores, parks and anything else off the beaten path that I could utilize would become essential for my cagey nature. Even utilizing spaces that were more well known among college students became important to take advantage of.

Out of those spaces, here are a few that have done nothing but add to my experience here in Lawrence.

Clinton Lake

About 15 minutes outside of town is Clinton Lake. This would eventually become one of my favorite spots in Lawrence. Growing up next to Lake Michigan, I felt so completely landlocked upon my arrival to Lawrence. It wasn’t until I rescued a dog sophomore year that I discovered Clinton Lake, after searching for dog parks to take her to. The lake has an overlook park that doubles as possibly one of the best picnic spots in Lawrence, dozens of hiking trails through the wooded area surrounding it, a dog park and a serene feel that is much needed after a long week.

Decade Coffee

As an avid coffee drinker, I am always searching for coffee shops that offer more than just a good cup of joe. Decade is nestled in a small brick abode on Delaware Street in East Lawrence. Not only do they make the best iced chai in Lawrence, but this funky café creates a unique environment with its open feel and eclectic wood furniture. Coffee products are one thing, but the food is drool-worthy. The best part — they serve wine! 

Jungle House

Just across the way from Decade lies Jungle House. Talk about clean air and good energy. If you have any bit of a green thumb or just love to be around greenery, Jungle House offers tons of plants at affordable prices in quite possibly the most adorable plant shop I’ve ever seen. During the winter months when the seasonal depression begins to make itself comfortable, this place provides a little dose of what everyone is in need of.

The Granada

Who doesn’t love a good concert? The Granada is constantly putting out shows with tickets that cost on average around $15. This is not necessarily a hidden gem, but it offers something different at a low cost when you get bored of going out to the same places. The Granada’s intimate venue offers up the perfect space for if you want a solid view from any spot inside.


If you don’t look close enough, it can almost be missed. This little restaurant sits in a historical building on E. Ninth Street. It started off as a catering company then turned into delicious Mediterranean kitchen. The dining space is intimate and offers locally sourced foods that are unbeatable. Open only on the weekends, Culinaria is the perfect spot to hit up for something different on a Saturday night.

Haley Czuma is a senior from Chicago studying English.