Lawrence, Indiana is located just a few miles northeast of downtown Indianapolis and is one of only four “excluded cities” in Marion County, Indiana. This essentially means that the town maintains its own governing bodies. With 40,795 residents on 20 square miles of land, the city of Lawrence offers eleven Lawrence parks and various fun Lawrence attractions to visitors, only about five miles northeast of greater Indianapolis.
Lawrence might not have the artistic infrastructure and focus of other Indianapolis satellite cities like Carmel, Fishers, or Greenwood, it’s incredibly close to all the artistic offerings of the Circle City. Living in Lawrence is much like living in Indianapolis itself, so Lawrence art lovers can still experience the wide world of the canvas without stepping out too far from their front doors.
While Lawrence attractions are a bit more sedate than things to do in Indianapolis, they nevertheless can make for some pretty good times. Most of these attractions are centered around the great outdoors; Lawrence parks, including the granddaddy of them all, Fort Harrison State Park, are many and include a lot of different amenities for Lawrence children and adults alike, while Lawrence events like the Lawrence 4th Fest and Lawrence Community Day provide a break in the day to day monotony that sometimes drags on in Indianapolis bedroom communities.
There are a few Lawrence bars that keep residents in high spirits, mostly neighborhood bars with the usual crop of regular patrons, deliciously unhealthy pub food, and cheap drink specials. Some Lawrence bars that are fairly popular include Weebles, an Indianapolis sports bar with a few big screen TV’s, pool tables, and dart boards; Scooter Joe’s, the best place to go for karaoke in Lawrence; the Gold Brick Tavern, home of the $2 tenderloin and a good jukebox; and Snafu Saloon, which is notorious for its daily cash giveaway.
Being in the center of Indiana means that Lawrence is virtually the center of the entire region; the town is only a few hours away from the major business centers of Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Columbus; it’s also close enough to the Circle City to be considered a part of the thriving Indianapolis business scene. Combine its geographic location with the expansive Lawrence parks system and the high quality of Lawrence schools, and it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are trying to become Lawrence businesses.
Lawrence is home to many Lawrence attractions that can educate, entertain, and exercise your children. Lawrence schools are some of the best in the region, if not in the United States, and the Lawrence parks system provides unparalleled spaces, programs, and areas for your kids to run around and get active in. Fort Harrison State Park and the Lawrence Soccer Complex provide plenty of athletic fields and after school activities to keep kids involved in the community, and the town sponsors several youth sports leagues for football, basketball, baseball, and tennis.
Downtown Lawrence isn’t really set up like a lot of other Indiana downtown areas. Instead of a tightly clustered array of quaint shops, wide open store fronts, benches, and pedestrian areas, downtown Lawrence is spread out over a small area with wide roads and open green spaces between the centers of commerce: a place meant more for driving than leisurely walking. That’s not to say that there are no downtown things to do in Lawrence. There are several Lawrence bars in the area, in addition to the Benjamin Harrison YMCA and other amenities; it just takes a short jaunt to get to any of them.
Education in Lawrence is run through the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, a subsection of the Indianapolis Public School System. The MSD of Lawrence Township educates almost 16,000 students spread out over twenty one different schools; it is one of the top ten school districts in the Hoosier State. Lawrence Central High School, the main secondary school in Lawrence, is known as a powerhouse of Indianapolis sports and Indianapolis education.
Since it has the general spirit of small town, there are several community events in Lawrence that make living and visiting this Indiana city worthwhile. The Lawrence 4th Fest is a traditional Fourth of July celebration with fireworks, vendors, an All-American Cornhole Tournament, and carnival games; Lawrence Community Day kicks off the fall with a dunk tank, rock wall, and more in Lawrence Community Park; and the Health, Wellness, and Fitness Fair is devoted to raising awareness and improving the health of Lawrence residents.
While lots of towns have the usual assortment of hospitals, gyms, and other health care facilities, Lawrence health goes beyond all that. For sure, there are Lawrence has several facilities dedicated to improving the lifestyle of the town’s residents, such as Community Hospital North and a branch of Anytime Fitness, but Lawrence takes a much more active involvement in the health of its residents than most other Indiana cities. The government of Lawrence has enacted the Pioneering Healthy Communities initiative, a program designed to make Lawrence the “healthiest city in the United States.”
There are a few Lawrence hotels serving the area; most these places are chain hotels or small, locally owned Lawrence businesses that cater to people passing through the area or visiting relatives. A Ramada Inn, Econo Lodge, and Kendall Inn are all popular options for lodging in Lawrence, Indiana.
Since Lawrence is so close to Indy, it benefits from easy accessibility to all of Indianapolis media. Residents of Lawrence can get the Indianapolis Star, the Indianapolis Recorder, or the Indianapolis Business Journal delivered right to their doorstep, Indianapolis television stations like Channel 13 WTHR, Channel 59 WXIN, and Channel 6 WRTV beamed straight into their living rooms, and Indianapolis radio stations like X103.3 FM and WBDG 90.9 FM on their car stereos with little to no static. Lawrence media, on the other hand, is relatively non-existent.
Though Lawrence doesn’t really have a vibrant music scene of its own, it certainly has its fair share of music lovers. There are a few music-oriented Lawrence businesses in town, and Lawrence bars occasionally feature live music by bands in the United States and around the region. However, Lawrence music lovers can visit Indianapolis at any time to find some great bands, records, and shows.
Partly because of its small town atmosphere and partly because of its proximity to the Circle City, Lawrence nightlife is a little bit lacking. People in this town would rather spend a cozy night indoors with family and a movie than go out on the town searching for thrills. Lawrence nightlife is more or less dependent on Indianapolis. The town itself doesn’t have much to offer except for the few smaller bars that dot downtown Lawrence and beyond. On the other hand, Lawrence is so close to Indianapolis as to be considered an extension of that city.
One of the crowning jewels of Lawrence is its massive parks system. Run by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, Lawrence parks are well kept, beautiful Lawrence attractions that showcase the beauty and majesty of the Central Indiana countryside. The most well known is Fort Harrison State Park, a former Army base turned Lawrence attraction that spans 1,700 acroes of gorgeous woodland, open green spaces, lakes, waterways, expansive vistas, hiking, biking, and walking trails, and other amenities.
Along with a plethora of “regular” chain restaurants and fast food diners, Lawrence and its immediate environs boast a number of ethnic restaurants, particularly Asian. Top restaurants in Lawrence, Indiana include Bando Restaurant, a Korean and Japanese place on Pendleton Pike; Hisago, a restaurant with “Creative Sushi”; and Ma Ma’s House, a locally owned Korean restaurant.
Lawrence is home to a great variety of real estate, including some of more upscale homes in the northeast area.
Since Lawrence is so close to Indianapolis, there’s no need for any major retail areas, specialty shops, or bustling shopping area. As a result, Lawrence shopping isn’t that much out of the ordinary, but if you have a basic need, there’s probably a store in Lawrence that can fill it. In downtown Lawrence, you’ll find a smattering of Lawrence businesses that are great places to pick up a few good gifts, souvenirs, or items of clothing. There are also a number of good retail chains and grocery stores for staples.
Lawrence sports, though not on the same scale as Indianapolis sports, have a lot to offer for athletes around the region. If you’re a fan of high school athletics, Lawrence boasts two of the more tradition-rich high school sports programs in the Hoosier State at Lawrence North High School and Lawrence Central High School. The town is also home to the massive Lawrence Soccer Complex, several Indiana golf courses (the Fort Golf Course, Old Oakland Golf Course, and Indian Lake Country Club), and the parks department runs several youth sports leagues.
The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department is expansive and meets a variety of needs, from those of the most competitive soccer player to those of the most contemplative nature lover. The community is also close to Fort Harrison State Park, one of the most majestic Indiana parks and site of many historical landmarks. With all these activities, things to do in Lawrence certainly aren’t that hard to come by.
Just a short drive northeast of the heart of Indianapolis is the excluded community of Lawrence, Indiana. It’s a small, close knit town that derives a lot of its culture and fun from nearby Indianapolis, but Lawrence has a steady rhythm all of its own. To find a small pocket of Americana within the greater metropolitan area of Indianapolis, all you have to do is head northeast to this friendly little burg. You’ll be eating apple pie and playing in the tie dying red, white, and blue t-shirts in no time.