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It’s a Great Time to Sell

Spring is just around the corner and the real estate market in Lawrence is already heating up. Thinking about selling your home? Here are several good reasons why now is the time to list.

Currently, Lawrence has a shortage of homes for sale and house prices have been on the rise. Listings that are in good condition and priced right are selling quickly. We’ve seen more than a few instances of sellers receiving multiple offers on their homes.

Stephens Broker Pat McCandless says, “If you’re thinking of selling your home, the best decision you will make is to work with a Realtor. And as it happens, Stephens has plenty of them to choose from. Any of our outstanding agents are able to make recommendations on how you can prepare your home to sell. They will help you arrive at the best price for your home according to its condition, a current market analysis, and recent buying trends in Lawrence.” Stephens Real Estate is a full service agency, so in addition to your agent you get the benefit of our support team. We’re fully prepared to help you every step of the way – from listing to closing.

Deciding to list your home takes some preparation. Our Realtors understand what appeals to buyers and can help you get your home looking its very best. Curb appeal – making the most of your home’s appearance on the outside – is an important element in attracting buyers. It may be as simple as adding fresh mulch to your flower bed, trimming your shrubs and trees, and planting flowers to add color. Or you may choose to add a fresh coat of paint to your front door. Spring is the perfect opportunity to do this as the grass turns green, trees starts to bud and flowers begin to bloom. Don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Arranging the interior of your home to look appealing and make best use of the space is called staging. It’s an important part of leaving potential buyers with a positive impression. They should like what they see so they can imagine themselves living there. Your home should be clutter-free and clean. Fresh paint and clean carpet will help your home show well. Details like making sure your house smells fresh and having it properly lit are important. Ask your agent how to stage your home so it shows to its best advantage.

It’s a great time to sell and we’re ready to help. If you’re interested in listing your home, call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Our Story

A Strong History

When Bob Stephens founded Stephens Real Estate in May of 1978, his vision was simple: Stay true to your independence, and true to your community. 40 years later, from those humble beginnings in the old Douglas County Bank building on Kentucky Street with 28 sales associates and a small support staff, his vision remains intact. We’ve grown larger, to be sure, but we’ve never lost our independence or our commitment to Lawrence and the surrounding area.

That commitment isn’t just in real estate. From day one to the present day, we’ve been dedicated to giving back to Douglas County through service and volunteerism. Our community involvement includes our support of United Way of Douglas County, The Ballard Center, Boys & Girls Club of Douglas County, Just Food, American Red Cross, Heartland Community Health Center, Go Red for Women, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Toys For Tots and many more. In addition, we are a community partner with Sunset Hill Elementary School.

Moving Forward

Like Bob Stephens, when Pat McCandless and Chris Earl bought the company in 2013 they had a simple vision: Never lose sight of the values that led to our success. Stephens Real Estate is still independent, still full service, and still linked to our community through roots that run decades deep. That means our agents and support team are committed to helping our clients live out their personal dreams right here in our hometown.

We’ve been synonymous with residential real estate since 1978, but there was a day when we were just as well known for our commercial business. Well, we’re proud to say we’re back in the commercial game; big time. Whether it’s a high-traffic spot or just a quiet little corner, we have the local knowledge to deliver just what you’re looking for.

We’re Different

Stephens Real Estate is much more than a conglomeration of talented and knowledgeable Realtors. Our team, unlike some companies, includes experienced transaction coordinators, a marketing coordinator, and a relocation coordinator. We are positioned to give assistance where you need it, when you need it, without the hassle and headache of running around trying to find the right person to talk to. Working alongside our outstanding group of agents, this dedicated support staff will provide you with expert service and guidance through the entire buying or selling process - from start to finish. When you hire a Stephens Agent you get the skills and expertise of the entire Stephens Real Estate Team.

One of the true benefits of being locally owned and operated, is knowing the right community partners to help with your transaction. At Stephens we collaborate with local lenders, title insurance companies, appraisers and inspectors to provide you with the assistance you need. We value the experience of these local experts who provide an unbiased, objective analysis for our clients. Stephens Real Estate, with offices in Lawrence, Baldwin City, and De Soto, is your locally owned, independent real estate resource. We’re committed to serving you when you’re ready to buy or sell. Call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Prepare for Winter

(BPT) - As sweater season knocks on the door, it’s time to prepare for the brisk temperatures ahead. This winter, keep your home, health and well-being top of mind with these simple tips to avoid cold weather woes.

Winterize your porch: Install plexiglass panels to keep the cold weather out, allowing you to host friends and family, protect your furniture from snowfall and minimize spring cleaning. Once winter is over, simply pack up the panels and store them for next season. For those who splurged on flooring, apply a protective finish, such as a water sealer or stain, to ensure excess moisture does not seep through the wood.

Take preventative measures: Oftentimes, frozen pipes can burst throughout the winter, or cause leaks as they begin to thaw in the spring. Keep your home safe from leaks by installing the Delta Water Leak Detector - a device that identifies leaks quickly and alerts homeowners at the onset. Simply place the leak detector near water heaters, appliances, sinks or toilets to detect drips or pooling. For added convenience, connect the device to your cell phone to receive alerts in real time.

Turn it upside down: Warm your home without a huge increase to the gas bill by reversing the ceiling fan direction. During the summer months, ceiling fans push air down, naturally lending a cooling effect to those below. By reversing the ceiling fan upward, the cooler air is redirected, keeping you and your family warm beneath.

Cozy up your home: To battle dreary days, stock up on warm essentials, such as flannel bedding, down throw blankets and plush towels. Outfit the common areas with warm fabrics and decorative patterns to keep your home cozy and welcoming during the winter. Finally, consider purchasing comfortable rugs and mats to keep your toes warm on tile and wood floors.

Stephens Real Estate is a locally owned, independent, full service company. Our agents know the Lawrence market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Call 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Living Lawrence

Lawrence is a great place to live, work and play, so we’ve included the Living Lawrence page on our website as a helpful resource. Read about it here, but definitely bookmark it on your computer, tablet or Smartphone because you’ll want to refer to it often – for lots of different things. Here’s an overview of what you will find at stephensre.com/buy-your-home/living-lawrence.

Essential Information is the stuff you don’t often need, but is important to have handy. Find contact information for the police, sheriff and fire departments, along with a link to the Lawrence Public School District and Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Life gets tricky without our Utilities and Services. If you’re new to the area and need to connect gas and water service, or if your electricity is out, this section will help you find the people who can fix you up. We also include links that will be helpful if you need a driver’s license or a car tag.

It’s easy to see that Lawrence embraces the arts. Check out our Museums, Art & Theatre area which will direct you to the dynamic Lawrence Arts Center or Van Go, the arts-based social service program. In addition, you can connect to Final Fridays’ site, a free monthly arts festival which allows artists to showcase their work throughout our town. Find information for area museums, Theatre Lawrence and the Lawrence Children’s Choir as well.

Community Resources will give you links to everything from city recycling to the Health Department and the Boys & Girls Club. You may find a much needed service or a much desired volunteer opportunity, and you will definitely recognize that Lawrence is a resource-rich community!

The University of Kansas is its own bustling community within our city. We have included links to schedules, entertainment opportunities and events at KU.

Your options for recreational activities are many in Lawrence. Our Parks & Rec section has info about area parks, trails, tourism and sports as well as classes for adults and children throughout the year. Here you will find a link to the LPRD Activities Guide.

Downtown Lawrence is the heart of our city. Find information for activities, learn a little history, double-check the dates of the Farmer’s Market or find out what’s going on at the library.

We hope you will find our Living Lawrence page a helpful resource. With offices in Lawrence and Baldwin City, and a team of real estate professionals who are second to none, we’re your locally owned, independent real estate resource. Call us at 785.841.4500, or Contact Us.

The Cradle of Basketball

(Content thanks to www.unmistakablylawrence.com)

No other city in the United States can boast an array of basketball history like Lawrence. Although the game was invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas is where the game of basketball “came of age.” That’s why we’re often called the “Cradle of Basketball.”

The University of Kansas has the only college basketball program founded by the inventor of the game, James Naismith. His original “Rules of Basket Ball” are displayed in the DeBruce Center, a unique facility that explores the rich history of basketball. Right next door is the legendary Allen Fieldhouse (the loudest place to watch a game) and the Booth Family Hall of Athletics which honors the greatest athletes in University’s history, including Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce and many more.

With three NCAA National Championships, it’s safe to say that Lawrence is embedded in basketball history. For a little history: Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball on December 21, 1891 to fill the need for an indoor winter sport. In 1898, he brought the sport to the University of Kansas, becoming the school’s first basketball coach. The court in Allen Fieldhouse is officially James Naismith Court.

Forrest C. “Phog” Allen became KU’s second basketball coach when he replaced Naismith in 1908. Allen served for 39 seasons at KU. To date beloved Phog Allen is the fourth most successful coach in the history of college basketball and KU’s winningest coach of all time. He was instrumental in the movement to bring basketball to the Olympic games. While Naismith is often called “the father of basketball,” he reportedly coined Allen the “father of basketball coaching.” It is in reference to this beloved coach that his statue stands in front of the Fieldhouse that bears his name and Jayhawk fans warn opponents to “Beware of the Phog.”

To learn more about the rich history of basketball in Lawrence and visit several locations around town, we recommend you go to UnmistakablyLawrence.com to download and print the Cradle of Basketball Itinerary. From this site you may also listen to the recently discovered, only known audio recording of James Naismith from a 1939 radio broadcast, as he describes the creation of the game. And the induction ceremony of Wilt Chamberlain, aka Wilt the Stilt and The Big Dipper, is also found on UnmistakablyLawrence.com. Watch as his jersey is hung among the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse, along with those of other basketball greats who hailed from old KU.

Some of the game’s most successful coaches and players have a connection to KU’s basketball tradition, thus the term “Cradle of Basketball.” Another reason to love life in Lawrence, Kansas!

Stephens is proud of our community and its fascinating history. We’re an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

The Historic Trails of Douglas County

(unmistakablylawrence.com / Meryl Carver-Allmond)

As a child, I remember driving Kansas back roads at night with my grandparents. It was a black ocean of grass and a sky awash with stars. As I looked out my window, I would imagine what it must have felt like for the people who traveled it before, in covered wagons lurching and creaking across the prairie. Did the boundlessness of it make them feel lonely? Or did they stare up at that gigantic sky with the same wonder I felt?

I didn’t know it then, but two significant wagon trails did pass through Kansas—in fact, both near Lawrence. The Santa Fe Trail went just south of town, through Baldwin City. The Oregon Trail went right over the top of Mount Oread.

And, if you’ve got an afternoon to spare and a good map, you can still travel them both yourself.

Douglas County has several markers and land features, that still exist from both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. It’s a journey of signposts and fields, mostly, but it’s also a journey of the imagination. It’s one thing to read that wagons crossed the Wakarusa River; it’s another to see the steep banks of the river and think about getting a 2000 pound wagon across. It’s one thing to read that the little trading-post of Brooklyn was the last casualty of Quantrill’s Raid; it’s another to see the blank field and gravestone-like markers, which are all that remain.

Driving the Trails Today

Both trails began in Independence, Missouri, and followed the same route until they split in Gardner, Kansas, just east of the Douglas County line. From there, the Santa Fe Trail went south, while the Oregon Trail went north.

While I’ve hit some of the highlights of both trails below, you’ll definitely want to download a map or pick up a copy of the self-guided driving tour brochure at the Lawrence Visitor Center (402 N. 2nd Street) to get good directions before you head out. Driving each trail should take you about 2 hours, including time for quick stops at the more interesting spots.

The Santa Fe Trail

Beginning at the Eastern side of Douglas County, the first significant milestone on the Santa Fe Trail is the Battle of Black Jack site on Highway 56. While the battle site will also be interesting for Civil War historians, for Santa Fe Trail purposes, you’ll definitely want to see the wagon ruts.

From the parking area at the battle site, follow the easy-to-spot footbridge off into the field, where a sign points to two large indentions that run parallel to each other. The ruts were made by wagons, which traveled as many as four across to ward off attacks.

Next, head towards Baldwin City. Palmyra, which has since been annexed to Baldwin, used to be a booming little community, with several blacksmiths, a hotel, and a well to service travelers. Only the well remains, and, although it has long since been capped off, it’s worth a quick stop.

Several parts of the next section of the trail, which winds through gravel roads, travel right along the original Santa Fe Trail route through a section called “The Narrows”. Wagons used the winding route across the ridge to avoid the getting stuck in the drainage of the rivers on either side (the Kansas to the North and the Marais des Cygnes to the South).

Next, you’ll reach the marker for Brooklyn. Brooklyn was a small village and trading post in the early trail days, until William Quantrill and his men retreated South on August 21, 1863. The raiders burned the entire village, and all that now remains is a sign post and a small trail marker.

From Brooklyn cross Highway 59 to see Willow Springs—also marked by trail marker—which was a good source of water for parched livestock, as well as their human companions.

Last, about 12 miles West of Baldwin City, you can see Simmons Point Stage Station, where travelers could get fresh mules and a night’s lodging. The remains of the Station are still somewhat visible from the road, but they’re on private property so be sure not to trespass. From there, the Santa Fe Trail loosely follows Highway 56 into Osage County and onward to Council Grove.

The Oregon Trail

If you want to follow the Oregon Trail through Douglas County, I recommend stopping first in Eudora. While Eudora was slightly north of the most common trail route, the Eudora Community Museum (720 Main St.; open Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5 p.m.) is a jewel of information.

As he generously pulled out maps and artifacts for me to see, the museum’s director, Ben Terwilliger, emphasized that while we think of the Oregon Trail as being like a highway, it wasn’t just one road. “It wasn’t just one trail. People were constantly trying slightly different routes,” Terwilliger said.

This is true in the area around Eudora, where some people arrived via the Northern “Westport Road” and others took the Southern route that is more commonly marked on maps today.

But, however they arrived, once they got to Eastern Douglas County, all Oregon Trail travelers had to cross the Wakarusa River.

Earlier travelers—including William Quantrill and his band—most commonly crossed at one of several places now lumped together as Bluejacket Crossing. While much of that area is now on private property, one of the ramps used to get to the river is about 800 yards from the current Highway 10 Bridge. While the ramp used to be carved with traveler’s initials, river erosion and construction have washed most of the visible landmarks away.

Later travelers had the advantage of crossing at Blanton’s Bridge, which was built by James Abbott in 1854, in an area later claimed by Napoleon Blanton. While the original bridge is now gone, of course, it was located where what is now Highway 40 crosses the Wakarusa.

If you drive the Bluejacket Route, be sure to look to the Southwest for the Blue Mound, a navigational aid on the trail. (You can’t miss it.) If you opt to follow Highway 40 to Blanton’s Bridge, look southeast as you head up towards the high ground in Lawrence. (The mound is also particularly visible from the top of the hill at 23rd Street and Wakarusa.)

The next significant marker on the Oregon Trail is on top of Mount Oread, in Lawrence. There, a large stone memorial sits on the Southwest side of the Chi Omega Fountain, to mark the path that wagons took over the hill.

From there, the trail loosely joins up with Highway 40 to the edge of Douglas County. While the hilly twists of the highway make for an entertaining drive, wagons would have followed the high ground to avoid expending unnecessary energy going up and down the hills.

Just before you cross into Shawnee County, you’ll reach the unincorporated town of Big Springs. While it is the oldest settlement in Douglas County, its heyday was during the Oregon Trail era. It stopped growing when railroads were built elsewhere—eventually losing its post office in 1903—but the United Brethren Church built in 1856 is still standing now functioning as a Methodist congregation.

Alas, the story of Big Springs is the story of many of the small settlements on both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. As railroads made travel faster, safer, and cheaper post-Civil War, the trails fell into disuse. While some travelers continued to use the trails into the 1890’s, by the 1870’s travel had largely dried up.

When you’re ready to take your imagination on this historic journey, you will find details about these trails along with a map, by looking under Explore / Itineraries at unmistakablylawrence.com. Or pick up a copy of the self-guided driving tour brochure at the Lawrence Visitor Center (402 N. 2nd Street).

Stephens is proud of our community and its fascinating history. We’re an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Contact us or call 785-841-4500.

The Holidays in Lawrence

Content thanks to unmistakablylawrence.com

The weather outside could be frightful, but Lawrence and the surrounding towns are always delightful around the holidays. Mass Street is a spectacular show of lights and decorated windows, there are numerous holiday lighting ceremonies, concerts, and other events to attend, and plenty of unique gifts from which to choose. If you’re unsure of how to navigate the myriad of events and activities, visit unmistakablylawrence.com/events-calendar to plan a memorable holiday outing perfect for family and friends.

While each year brings new and interesting events to attend, there are many timeless classics that shape the holiday season in Douglas County year after year. Consider starting your day with a Lawrence favorite that has been a tradition since 1993, the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade, held today at 11:00.

This weekend really kicks off the season with holiday activities and events for everyone, including: The Downtown Lawrence Winter Wonder Weekend, Tails & Traditions Holiday Festival at Watkins Museum of History, the Festival of Nativities at Centenary United Methodist, the Holiday Extravaganza at the Sports Pavilion, the Gingerbread House Festival at Abe & Jake’s, the Holiday Homes Tour, and the 93rd Annual Holiday Vespers at the Lied Center.

December 8-17 you may experience the sensation and charm of another winter family favorite in Lawrence: The Nutcracker, A Kansas Ballet performed by the Lawrence Ballet Theatre at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Families who treasure selecting a Christmas tree together can visit Prairie Elf Christmas Trees or the Strawberry Hill Christmas Tree Farm – locally owned and operated farms that provide hayrides, hot drinks, and crafts to make your trip extra special. If you still need more holiday spirit, visit the extensive Christmas tree display in historic Lecompton, the Festival of Lights in Baldwin City, or the Santa Claus Express train ride at the Midland Railway.

Stephens Real Estate wishes you a happy holiday season, and we think these events along with the great restaurants and shops Lawrence offers promise plenty of opportunities for holiday cheer.

We are a locally owned, independent, full service company. Our agents know the Lawrence market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Call Stephens at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Lawrence’s Epic Desserts

Content courtesy of unmistakablylawrence.com / Kate Hartland

Sometimes, you have a craving that a savory bite just won’t satisfy. You want creamy and cool, or perhaps warm and spicy. You want a little crunch, a little melt-in-your-mouth, a little sweetness. You want dessert, and here in Lawrence we say you can have your strawberry rhubarb pie and eat it, too.

The truth of the matter is, you can’t come to Lawrence and walk around Mass St. without indulging in an afternoon pick-me-up or post-dinner stop at Sylas and Maddy’s. Ask anyone and they will tell you that they have the best ice cream you can find, in town or otherwise. The shop opened in 1999 and has been locally owned and operated from the get-go. Once you walk in and smell the ice cream and waffle cones they make fresh every day, you won’t need much of an excuse to come back and try every flavor.

Wheatfields was President Obama’s stop of choice when he came to speak at KU, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his decision was based heavily on the extensive and mouth-watering bakery selection. Wheatfields always stuns with their handcrafted, fresh-every-day bread, but you should know that their desserts and pastries are just as well-crafted. Inside this no-frills cafe, baskets are filled with chocolate croissants, brioche, and muffins, and trays are lined with lemon raspberry butter cookies, palmiers, tarts, and macarons. They also have seasonal cakes, tiramisu, and a chocolate torte. The only way you can go wrong is if you leave with just one thing.

At this point, we’re guessing you’ve heard: Ladybird has pie. Good pie. Award-winning, dream-frequenting pie with thick, flaky crust and a delectable and ever-changing selection of fillings. My personal favorite is the strawberry rhubarb, but you won’t find me saying no to a slice of chocolate cream or blackberry. Really, what flavor would I turn down? Ladybird knows you need your fix, so stop in and sit at the counter or take a few slices to go.

If you’re out getting a few things for dinner and feel like a nice sweet treat would round out the evening well, check out the desserts in the pre-made section at the Merc. Not only are they made fresh in the store, but there are often gluten-free and other allergy-sensitive treats available. I can attest to the moist but delicate lemon cake, and the chocolate mousse cups are incredible.

The Burger Stand is known for their namesake and those crazy good truffle fries. But have you caught them on a night when the ice cream machine is up and running? The milkshakes, both alcoholic and non, are a treat to behold. It’s almost enough fun just to read through the menu of unique flavors, but when the frosted glass slides your way, you’ll be glad you picked one.

Lawrence is nothing if not unique, and I think having a food truck that serves Crème Brulee certainly fits that vibe. If you’re lucky enough to find Torched Goodness at a festival or around town, you will not be disappointed. Flavors range from salted caramel to chipotle infused chocolate with a little orange blossom and white raspberry in between. Check the truck’s Twitter for location updates so you can watch your very own Crème Brulee torched before your eyes.

We’ve touched on a few of the delectable desserts around town, but there are sweets aplenty all around town. Ask your Stephens agent for their personal recommendation. And when you’re ready to buy or sell your home, call us first. We know Lawrence and we’re ready to help.

Some spirits just find it hard to leave Lawrence. Who can blame them?

(Content thanks to www.unmistakablylawrence.com)

With a pre-Civil War history as fiery and volatile as ours, Lawrence has more than a few ghosts and haunts. In fact, Lawrence’s history of urban legends is exactly why Eric Kripke, creator of the cult drama, Supernatural, chose Lawrence as the birthplace of evil fighting adventurers, Sam and Dean Winchester. (We see you, Supernatural fans).

Eldridge Hotel - Colonel Shalor Eldridge rebuilt the Eldridge hotel TWICE! The original Free State Hotel was attacked and burned in 1856, rebuilt then burned to the ground again during Quantrill’s Raid in 1863. Col. Eldridge has been making his presence felt at The Eldridge since his death, especially in room 506 which holds one of the original building’s cornerstones. (Some say the cornerstone is a portal to the spirit world.) Be sure to check out the picture at the front desk and decide for yourself if that’s an apparition you see in the elevator (another hot spot for paranormal activity). According to legend, the Colonel’s chair has been sitting in storage, unmoved for years… but it never collects dust!

Merchants Pub & Plate - The building that is home to one of Lawrence’s classiest restaurants was originally built as Merchant’s National Bank in 1872. The staircase in the restaurant has been the place staff and diners have reported feeling an eerie presence and some report seeing an apparition on the steps.

Sigma Nu Fraternity - The Victorian mansion of former Kansas governor, William Stubbs, is now home to KU’s chapter of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. Frat members throughout the decades have reported creepy encounters with a female spirit. Legend has it Governor Stubbs servant and rumored mistress, Virginia, hung herself in the residence and is the source of these haunts. The paranormal encounters include sightings of a ghostly female shape, flickering lights and the sounds of footsteps and slamming doors.

Pioneer Cemetery - Quantrill’s Raid of 1863 left 200 dead and the town in flames. Pioneer Cemetery was the repository of a mass grave on that fateful day. A few ghosts still linger there.

Stull Cemetery - Perhaps the most terrifying of Lawrence area supernatural legends is that of the Stull Cemetery (about 10 miles west of Lawrence). The basement of the abandoned church that stood on the property until 2002 has been said to be a “gateway to hell.” Legend tells us that even when the roof of the crumbling church was no longer, it would never rain inside and glass bottles thrown against the church walls would not shatter. The church is no longer standing – it was mysteriously torn down one night in 2002. The legend of the Stull Cemetery has made its way into pop culture through music, film, and television. Today, signs on the gates around the cemetery read “no trespassing.” Unfortunately, the cemetery has seen vandalism over the years and Stull residents aren’t too keen on outsiders. If you do decide to visit, only explore the cemetery during times that the gates are open. When the cemetery is closed, trespassing could bring a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Want a guided ghost tour of Lawrence? Check out www.ghosttoursofkansas.com. For a self-guided tour pick up a copy of “Historic Cemeteries Tour of Lawrence” at the Lawrence Visitors Information Center, 402 N. 2nd Street.

Farms for Every Season

(unmistakablylawrence.com / Meryl Carver-Allmond)

Apples so delicious and red, you would swear they’re from a fairytale. Asparagus poking out of the ground like an alien plant. Lavender so intoxicating you’ll have a relaxed aromatherapy buzz for days after smelling it. Lawrence’s local farms have all of that, plus some of the nicest farmers you’ll ever meet.

Here are a few of our family’s seasonal favorite farms that regularly welcome visitors. For most, their hours (and picking availability, where applicable) vary by season, so be sure to give them a call before you head out. No matter what season you’re here, there’s almost always something wonderful growing at these local farms!

SPRING

Pendleton’s Country Market - The Pendletons’ farm has so much activity going on year-round that it’s hard to pigeonhole it into a season, but, if you’ve never picked your own asparagus before, you simply must head out in the spring. Early in the season—their average first picking date is April 15th—the asparagus stalks emerge from the ground, fully formed, just as you see them at the grocery store. It’s like something from an episode of Star Trek. Despite its otherworldly appearance, though, asparagus is easy and quick to pick, even for little hands. And the taste? Well, that is truly out of this world!

Wohletz Farm Fresh - There is nothing that says “spring” to me more than a fresh-picked, sun-warmed strawberry, and Wohletz is the most reliable pick-your-own spot we’ve found. Depending on the weather, picking typically starts sometime in May, and you can sign up for their email list to get a heads up about when to head out. (Strawberry season in Kansas can be a “blink and you’ll miss it” affair, and, trust me, you don’t want to miss it!)

SUMMER

Washington Creek Lavender - I think heaven must be a little bit like Washington Creek’s lavender drying barn. The sunlight gently beams through the windows; purple lavender buds are artfully scattered across the floor. But the thing you’ll never forget is the smell—it’s heady, ethereal, inebriating. While you can’t pick lavender from the fields, visitors are welcome to walk about and take pictures. If you simply must take some lavender home with you—and you should—you can buy some from their store, which is generally open Wednesday through Sunday in the summer.

The Lawrence Farmers’ Market - While the Lawrence Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday morning from April to November, it is especially vibrant in summer. Grab a breakfast burrito or a muffin, and listen to local musicians play as you stroll from booth to booth. Pick up a rainbow basket of peppers. Enjoy a tomato tasting and take home a few of your favorites. Buy a bottle of local honey to sample the local terroir. Really, there’s no way to do this one wrong.

FALL

Vertacnik Orchard - Dave and Wendy Vertacnik’s apples always feel a bit like something out of a story to me. Juicy, rosy, sweet—they’re the kind of apple you want to present to your favorite teacher in early September, or what you picture a wicked witch conjuring up to tempt a princess. Vertacnik Orchard is small and simple, so it’s perfect for a quick stop or—as we are wont to do—many repeat visits over the course of a season.

Schaake’s Pumpkin Patch - Schaake’s (pronounced shock-E’s) began as a children’s roadside pumpkin stand, and has grown into a whole family affair. From the last weekend in September to Halloween, the entire Schaake family can be found driving tractors for hay rack rides, helping snap pictures in their photo area, and selling cider slushies. Unlike many local pumpkin patches, all of the activities at Schaake’s—other than concessions and the pumpkins you take home—are free, making it fun for grown-ups and children alike.

Chestnut Charlie’s - While you may have seen hulled chestnuts in the store, chestnuts in the wild are a much more interesting nut. Covered with a porcupine-like husk, they’re a beautiful—if somewhat prickly—Autumn jewel. Chestnut Charlie’s is a regular at the Saturday Lawrence Farmers’ Market in the Fall—go try a cone of hot, freshly roasted chestnuts—but they also offer limited pick-your-own opportunities at their farm, usually in early October. They have so many folks who want to come out that they require reservations, so be sure to call ahead (and bring some sturdy gloves) if you want to try your hand at gathering your own chestnuts.

WINTER

Coal Creek Farm Alpacas - If you’re a knitter—or even if you just like knitted hats and scarves—winter is a good time to visit Coal Creek Farm Alpacas. At their on-farm “Simple Living Country Store” (open Saturdays 10-4 all year; Sundays from 1-4 between Thanksgiving and Christmas) you can get all stocked up on yarn, roving, hats, gloves, scarves, and mittens, all made from alpaca fleece. Visitors are also welcome to visit and feed the alpacas even when the store isn’t open (they have an honor box donation system), or join them for a fiber arts class (email for the current schedule).

Davenport Orchards and Winery - If you have a free day and a designated driver you should go on a Douglas County wine tasting tour. Four vineyards (Davenport, Bluejacket Crossing, Crescent Moon, and Haven Pointe) call Lawrence home, and they’re all charming. However, if you can just go to one, it has to be Davenport. Davenport does a wonderful job with the local Norton and Seyval grapes, but where they really shine is their fruit wines. The website description of their rhubarb wine says, “You haven’t lived….”, and I think that might be an understatement. A bottle of their crisp apple wine will get you a permanent invite to any Thanksgiving dinner you bring it to. Go have a taste, but be prepared to buy a case—you’re going to want to take some of this wine home.

Stephens Real Estate is an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know this market and have the experience and the connections to help you find your perfect home. Contact us or call 785-841-4500.

Stephens Real Estate, Inc.
2701 W. Sixth Street
Lawrence, KS 66049

Phone: 785-841-4500
Toll-Free: 1-800-875-4315