Bucket lists. They're de rigueur these days. Those arbitrary checklists of experiences you must have before you expire have been the focus of books, magazine articles, even a major motion picture.
We thought Lawrence deserved its own list, so we asked readers, friends and colleagues to suggest "must-do" adventures special to our unique city.
We received dozens of great ideas and had difficulty narrowing the field. But here, in alphabetical order of location, are our best suggestions:
Attend a KU basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse
The consensus is you haven't lived in Lawrence until you've cheered the Jayhawks in the most revered edifice on campus. Named in honor of the late Dr. F.C. "Phog" Allen, KU's head coach for 39 years, the venue is considered one of the best places in America to watch a college basketball game.
Lawrence resident Patricia Peterson couldn't agree more. "I'm from New York, originally, and I'm a big sports fan. I've been to Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Wrigley FieldŠ None of those can compare. Allen Fieldhouse has a life of its own. It's got a pulse when you get in there. I've never experienced anything like it in my life."
Ride a sled (or reasonable facsimile) down Campanile Hill
When a blanket of snow covers Mount Oread, the place to slip and slide is on the slopes surrounding KU's World War II Memorial Campanile.
Ashley Weigel, Lawrence, says, "One of my best memories is when I went to KU and it snowed in the evening. We went out around 11:30 and just took what we could find - sleds, trash can lids, whatever - and went down the hill on the freshly fallen snow. It was exhilarating because we were so excited and nobody had done it yet. It was an awesome experience."
Eagle-watch on the Kaw
In the winter, residents can get a bird's-eye view of majestic bald eagles perching in branches on the Kansas River or feeding on fish swimming over the Bowersock Dam. Binoculars are optional.
Dick Sheppard, a Lawrence native, makes a point to get up close and personal with the birds every year.
"Growing up in Lawrence, we never saw any eagles until they put Clinton Lake in. And that bird is, well, just breathtaking. I watch them from inside the Riverfront Mall, the best place to see them without disturbing them."
Stroll the Lawrence Farmer's Market on Saturday morning
Come spring, the place to go for veggies straight from the farm, live music and grown men in bumblebee costumes is the Lawrence Farmers' Market. Folks from all walks of life - often accompanied by four-legged friends - meet and greet amidst fresh tomatoes, bunches of daffodils and mouth-watering baked goods.
Mark Taylor, local market enthusiast, can't imagine a Saturday morning during the season without a jaunt to the market.
"I go every weekend," he says. "I get up at 6:30 and am down there before the opening bell at 7. I know almost all of the vendors; it's really a social hour for me. I appreciate that it's all local or regional products. And I can't believe how many people I know go to the market."
Tag a butterfly (or 20) for the annual monarch watch
Every September, hundreds of volunteers show up in the Baker Wetlands for tagging day, a project of the Jayhawk Audubon Society and Monarch Watch, directed by Orley "Chip" Taylor, a professor of biological sciences at KU. Tagged butterflies help scientists track the monarchs' spring and fall migrations.
Former Lawrence resident Jana Calkins, who now lives in Overland Park, tagged butterflies in 2009 with her husband and children.
"This year was our first time tagging butterflies, and it was perfect because both of our kids' teachers are very into them," Jana says. "It was a really interesting, fun experience for us all to be hands on with nature!"
Visit Naismith's grave
If Allen Fieldhouse is the mecca of college basketball, then the James Naismith Memorial in Lawrence Memorial Park is Lourdes. For years, the faithful have made the pilgrimage to the inventor of basketball's grave for inspiration, healing of their favorite team or a lesson in American sports history.
Lawrence resident Scot Buxton, friend and running partner of former KU coach Roy Williams, is all-too familiar with the site.
"On big game days, we'd run out to Naismith's grave, tap the headstone and ask for good luck," he remembers. "I think most people would agree that the University is a big part of what's going on in Lawrence, and our basketball program is a big deal, nationally and historically. When you've got the guy who invented the game, I can't imagine why you wouldn't want to visit and pay your respects."
Let a parade pass you by
Lawrencians love a parade, and they included several on their lists: Band Day, St. Patrick's Day, Art Tougeau, the Zombie Walk, Mardi Gras in Kansas, and one of the premier horse-drawn holiday processions in the country.
Sheppard and longtime resident, CindyGress, voted for the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade, typically held on the first Saturday of December.
"It starts the holiday season out right," Gress says. "The horses are dressed so beautifully, and people are really friendly."
"It's unique to Lawrence," Sheppard says. "Nobody else does it that I've heard of."
Sweat in sweltering summer heat with hundreds of your closest friends at Red Dog Days
For more than 25 years, Don "Red Dog" Gardner has been leading able-bodied locals of all ages in a massive community boot camp. On an evening in July of last year, with 2,766 participants in attendance, Dog Days set the record for the "world's largest community workout," although it wasn't officially certified by the Guinness World Records.
Lawrence Dog Days enthusiast John Dobbins explains why he keeps going back year after year.
"It's all shapes and sizes doing their best - more than they would do on their own. Don Gardner gives more than I can fathom, asking nothing in return but your best effort and kind words for one another. Good for the heart and soul."
For Al Hack, local resident and Dobbins' exercise partner, "it's 50 percent exercise and 50 percent friendship with the most supportive and welcoming group of people I've ever known."
Shop the annual Sidewalk Sale
Each year on the third Thursday in July, thousands of bargain hunters descend on downtown Lawrence for the dawn-to-dusk markdown mayhem that is the Sidewalk Sale.
Weigel says, "I've never been the kind of person to get up really early and do it, but it's just crazy the whole day down there. There's always great people watching in Lawrence, but that's an especially good time to do it."
Dance at the Tax Day party at the downtown post office
This annual tradition, started in 1987 by local musician Steve Mason, occurs every April 15 and includes jam sessions, impromptu clogging, food, drink and merriment set to the tunes of the Alferd Packer Memorial Stringband. The celebration, featured on NPR and "CBS Sunday Morning," used to go past midnight before electronic filing caused the post office to curtail their extended hours.
Bayliss Harsh of Lawrence attends every year and says even though the post office now closes at 5:30, the spirit of the event remains.
"It's cool to take this thing that everybody has to do and isn't necessarily looked on as a fun, and turn it into a party. It's so Lawrence."
• Go to a "Victor Continental Show."
• Slurp soup at Souper Bowl Saturday at the Lawrence Arts Center.
• Attend one or all local festivals.
• Climb through the steam tunnels at KU.
• Buy a piece of art from a local artist.
• Flash a peace sign to Rob "Precious Love" Blank.
• Ghost hunt at The Eldridge Hotel.
• Join a protest with the Coalition for Peace & Justice.