Manhattan is a small city in northeast Kansas on the Big Blue and Kansas rivers. The city was founded in the 1850s as a “free state” town by settlers from the New England Emigrant Aid Company and is home to Kansas State University, so the large number of students give it a lively college town vibe. Manhattan is surrounded by some of the last large tracts of the once dominant tallgrass prairie, now protected by the Flint Hills Discovery Center and Konza Prairie Biological Station. The city has a charming historic downtown that includes historic Wolf House Museum and other beautifully restored 19th century houses. Sunset Zoo is one of the best small zoos in the country, while large Tuttle Creek State Park offers a range of outdoor activities. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.First Territorial Capitol
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For five days in July 1855, Pawnee, near the Kansas River, was the capital of the Kansas Territory before it was transferred to Fairway, Kansas. All that remains of Pawnee today is a stately stone building where the Kansas legislature met to struggle over the question of slavery. After falling into disrepair for a while, the building was renovated in 1928 by Union Pacific and two of its floors now host exhibits such as Early Town of Pawnee, Kansas Territorial Politics, and Kansas Memory – First Territorial Capitol Restoration Program. The town of Pawnee is now part of the town of Fort Riley. After visiting the exhibits, enjoy a stroll along the Kaw River Nature Trail. The First Territorial Capitol of Kansas is managed by the Kansas Historical Society.
693 Huebner Road, Fort Riley, KS 66442, Tel. 785-784-5535,
2.Flint Hills Discovery Center
© Flint Hills Discovery Center
The Flint Hills Discovery Center is an interactive, hands-on science, culture, and history museum in Manhattan, Kansas, that educates and informs the general public about the unique ecoregion that includes the Kansas Flint Hills and the northern Oklahoma Osage Hills. This ecoregion is home to the last remaining tracts of tallgrass prairie that once covered the central part of North America. There is only 3% left now and most of it grows in the Flint Hills. The museum exhibits showcase different layers of the prairie. In front of the sustainable, eco-friendly building that hosts the center is Blue Earth Plaza, a pleasant spot to relax in front of an outdoor fire pit and fountains.
315 S 3rd St, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-587-2726
3.Downtown Farmers Market of Manhattan
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Every Saturday morning since 1979, downtown Manhattan welcomes about 40 vendors – producers, growers, and crafters – to a traditional farmers market, the oldest farmers market in Kansas. They bring their homemade, homegrown, and home-crafted meats, breads, vegetables, baked delights, soaps, jewelry, wood sculptures, and much more to the residents and visitors of Manhattan. It is the day to come and stock up with organic and fresh produce and other ingredients for family meals. It is also the opportunity to meet the local growers and artists and pick up a birthday gift or a pie for the party. There is also an evening market on Wednesdays at the Cico Park entrance, which is smaller but equally exciting. In the winter, between November and April, the market moves to Pottorf Hall.
300 N 3rd St, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 620-767-3893,
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4.Kansas State Insect Zoo
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Located on the 1,100-square-foot Kansas State University campus in a converted dairy barn, the Insect Zoo showcases thousands of live, preserved, and fossil insects. Some of the exhibits are hands-on, such as microscopes that visitors can use to look at the preserved insects. There is also a creative kitchen where drawers and cupboards contain examples of various bugs along with detailed information about them. Visits to the museum are by appointment only and the visitors can have formal tours with docents or entomologists or can roam around on their own. Each display offers full information on the species it holds, such as their habitat, biology, importance, geographical distribution, and interesting features.
1531 Mid-Campus Dr, Manhattan, KS 66506, Tel. 785-532-2847
5.Kansas Wheat Innovation Center
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The Kansas Wheat Commission built the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center on 35,000 square feet of land owned by Kansas University in order to provide improved varieties of wheat to the farmers as fast as possible. The center includes 10,000 square feet of office space for the Wheat Growers Board Room, the Kansas Wheat Commission, and a number of other wheat-related organizations. The 15,000-square-foot state-of-the-art lab is used by Heartland Plant Innovations to conduct research and find new wheat genetic traits as well as relevant technologies. The last 10,000 square feet of space contain the four greenhouses where varieties of wheat are grown in optimal conditions, with controlled temperature, humidity, and air circulation.
1990 Kimball Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-539-0255,
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Konza Prairie Biological Station is a biological research station located on 3,487 hectares of native tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills ecoregion in northeastern Kansas. The station is owned by Kansas State University and the Nature Conservancy and is used by the university’s Division of Biology as a field research station. The station’s mission is ecological long-term research, education, and conservation of the rapidly disappearing tallgrass prairie. The station itself is not open to the public, but its nature trails are. They run through lowland forest, cross Kings Creek at several points, and run over old limestone ledges before entering the tallgrass prairie. It is a pleasant hike with several steep climbs that end on higher points with magnificent views of the Kansas River Valley and the Flint Hills.
Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, Tel. 785-532-6011
7.Linear Park Trail
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One of the best ways of exploring historic Manhattan, Kansas, is to hop on the Linear Trail, a popular bike path used regularly by the locals for exercise. It is a network of trails that can be accessed from many points in the city, such as Richards Drive, Temple Lane, 3131 Anderson Avenue, and many others. The trail is paved in parts and covered in crushed limestone in others, about 9 miles long and used by bikers, joggers, and walkers. It goes around the entire city, starting at Anneberg Park and ending at Northeast Community Park, following the Big Blue River, Kansas River, and Wildcat Creek. The trails are shady, very scenic, and pleasant, and in the quieter parts of the day you can spot various wildlife.
Manhattan Parks and Recreation Office, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-587-2757
8.Liquid Art Winery and Estate
© Liquid Art Winery and Estate
It is a rare sight in Kansas: A hill covered in row after row of lush grape vine, ready to be made into first-class wine. Liquid Art Winery is located on the hill near Manhattan, Kansas, and the visitors to their fun tasting room can enjoy spectacular view of the vineyard and surrounding hills. The winery and estate offer wine tasting on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and also organize events and weddings. The winery produces 13 wines, among them Seyval blanc, unoaked chardonnay, reserve chardonnay, and crimson cabernet. They also make a range of hard cider. All are available at their tasting room, by the glass or bottle, together with an assortment of cheese, crackers, cold cuts, chocolate, and other snacks.
745 Wildcat Creek Rd, Manhattan, KS 66503, Tel. 785-370-8025,
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9.Little Apple Brewing Company
© Little Apple Brewing Company
Little Apple Brewing Company is a popular local restaurant located in the West Loop Shopping Center, on the west end of Manhattan, Kansas. Since 1995, this fun place has been the destination for big, juicy certified Angus beef steaks that go so well with their own hand-made craft beers. Little Apple is proud of using produce from local farmers and is a part of "From the Land of Kansas," a program supporting local agriculture. Check what beer is on tap for the day and, although their steaks and burgers are large, try to leave some space for their bread pudding with whiskey sauce. On Friday and Saturday, don’t miss their famous certified Angus prime rib.
1110 Westloop, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-539-5500,
10.Sparrow Specialty Coffee
© Sparrow Specialty Coffee
Sparrow Specialty Coffee is a charming coffee shop in downtown Manhattan, Kansas, where you can get a cup of excellent coffee regardless of the method you prefer – super modern or slow, the old-fashioned way. You can get espresso, macchiato, cortado, cappuccino, latte, Americano and much more, hot chocolate and hot toddy included. The cozy, comfortable, and bright place has a pleasant atmosphere and rustic touches that invite lingering over your hot coffee, tea, or great food. Try their interesting sandwiches, fresh hot soups, and baked delights such as muffins and cookies. The place is pet-friendly and there are a few bistro tables on the sidewalk outside.
1437 Anderson Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-320-2542,
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11.Strecker Nelson West Gallery
© Strecker Nelson West Gallery
Strecker Nelson West Gallery is located in downtown Manhattan, Kansas. It represents a number of renowned local and regional artists through their original, unique art pieces. The gallery has been an important part of the cultural identity of Manhattan for the last 37 years, showcasing works in different mediums, such as prints, drawings, paintings, sculptures, glass, ceramics, jewelry, and more. The gallery has an adjacent framing shop that provides high-quality framing to the local art collectors and owners. With a diverse and high quality collection of contemporary art, the gallery is a great source for art pieces for homes and corporate and public spaces, and its owners are fully qualified to offer advice when selecting the appropriate art as well as framing.
406½ Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-537-2099,
© Sunset Zoo
Sunset Zoo is a small zoo in Manhattan, Kansas, that provides a home to more than 300 animals from about 100 species. It is one of the oldest zoos in the country, established in 1930s by the then Kansas State University Head of Surgery and Medicine Dr. E.J. Frick. The zoo offers spacious and modern enclosures to the animals and some are close enough to be petted. Today, the zoo spreads over 26 acres and has plenty of space for expansion. One of the latest expansions was the John Woodard Memorial Gibbons Exhibit, with viewing plaza made of limestone and an outdoor exhibit yard. The zoo is currently working on developing the Expedition Asia exhibit in order to provide a proper home for tigers, amur leopards, and sloth bears.
2333 Oak Street, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-587-APES (2737),
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13.Tallgrass Tap House
© Tallgrass Tap House
Located in the historic downtown Manhattan, Kansas, the Tallgrass Tap House is a huge, very popular brewery, restaurant, and taproom spread over 11,000 square feet of rustic, industrial-chic space. Giant barrels of beer are the most dominant décor, and seating and event spaces are located on several levels, including a roof deck with fantastic views. There are always half a dozen beers rotating on tap, plus specialty and seasonal beers. The brewers call their brewery “a kitchen for experimenting and creating new beers.” The tap house has a huge menu of delicious and imaginative pub grub that goes well with the cool, interesting beers. No wonder Tallgrass Tap House won the “Best Beer in Kansas” award 2 years in a row.
320 Poyntz Ave., Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-320-2933,
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14.The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
© The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
Opened in 1996 with a generous donation from Ross and Marianna Beach of Hays, Kansas, the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art presents an in-depth profile of art in contemporary Kansas, while also bringing artists and art from all over the world to Manhattan. The building that houses the museum is located on the campus of Kansas State University and was designed by Arthur Andersson of Moore/Andersson Architects in the postmodern style. It has five galleries, two rooms for storing art, an auditorium, offices, classroom, and workspaces. The art collection now has more than 10,000 pieces of art that rotate on display in the gallery.
Kansas State University, 14th St & Anderson Ave, Manhattan, KS 66506, Tel. 785-532-7718,
15.Tuttle Creek State Park
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Located in the Flint Hills, near the city of Manhattan, northeast Kansas, Tuttle Creek State Park is huge 1,200-acre reservoir park with 100 miles of scenic, rugged shoreline and 12,500 acres of water. The park consists of distinct areas called Rocky Ford, River Pond, Fancy Creek, and Randolph. The park offers a huge range of outdoor recreational options, including beaches, hiking, biking and equestrian trails, boat ramps, a marina, campsites, cabins, fishing, boating, a disc golf course, volleyball courts, an archery range, horseshoe pits, and much more. Next to the park is the 12,000-acre wildlife area, great for wildlife watching and hunting.
5800 River Pond Rd A, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-539-7941
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16.Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park
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Located in the beautiful green Flint Hills at the outskirts of Manhattan, Kansas, Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park is a family adventure destination that has something for the whole family. They have seven ziplines and a freefall course, which can take anything from from half an hour to 2.5 hours to complete. It will get your adrenaline flowing while you are flying over the dense treetops of the forest. The shortest line is 100 feet long and the longest is 1,400 feet. The safety weight limit is 275 pounds and kids have to be over 50 pounds to participate. With beautiful views and a fun and safe zipline adventure, Wildwood makes an excellent destination for birthday parties, corporate get-togethers, and just about any other group celebration.
375 Johnson Rd, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-477-9543,
17.Wolf House Museum
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The Wolf House Museum is located in a limestone house built in 1868 as a boarding house known as the German Boarding House. Under different owners, the house was used as a boarding house until 1938, when it became a home to Hepler family first and then, in 1941, to the Wolf family. In 1982, Mrs. Wolf donated the house to the Riley County Historical Society, which converted it into a museum that interprets the 1880s era in Manhattan through period furniture and décor. There are also several additional exhibits that feature different periods of the house’s history, since each owner made a series of changes influenced by each period’s style.
630 Fremont St, Manhattan, KS 66502, Tel. 785-776-7344,
17 Best Things to Do in Manhattan, Kansas
- First Territorial Capitol, Photo: Courtesy of brizmaker - Fotolia.com
- Flint Hills Discovery Center, Photo: Flint Hills Discovery Center
- Downtown Farmers Market of Manhattan, Photo: Courtesy of Leslie - Fotolia.com
- Kansas State Insect Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of stryjek - Fotolia.com
- Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, Photo: Courtesy of Stefan Richter - Fotolia.com
- Konza Prairie, Photo: Courtesy of Tommy Brison - Fotolia.com
- Linear Park Trail, Photo: Courtesy of goodmanphoto - Fotolia.com
- Liquid Art Winery and Estate, Photo: Liquid Art Winery and Estate
- Little Apple Brewing Company, Photo: Little Apple Brewing Company
- Sparrow Specialty Coffee, Photo: Sparrow Specialty Coffee
- Strecker Nelson West Gallery, Photo: Strecker Nelson West Gallery
- Sunset Zoo, Photo: Sunset Zoo
- Tallgrass Tap House, Photo: Tallgrass Tap House
- The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Photo: The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
- Tuttle Creek State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Alicia - Fotolia.com
- Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park, Photo: Courtesy of muro - Fotolia.com
- Wolf House Museum, Photo: Courtesy of DenisProduction.com - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: City of Manhattan, Kansas - Municipal Government fb page
Attraction Spotlight: The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is dedicated to furthering the missions of service, research, and teaching of Kansas State University by studying, collecting, preserving, and displaying works of art from the state of Kansas and the surrounding region. The programs and exhibits at the art museum connect the culture, interests, and art of the region with the public of the world at large. Art offers a rich field for discussions across a multitude of disciplines. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum offers experiences with art that give guests an opportunity to explore the human experience.
As a celebration of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art’s twentieth anniversary since opening to the public, the art museum has unveiled a new design for the galleries housing its permanent art collection. The theme of the celebration is “You Gotta Have Art,” and has transformed the museum’s galleries to feature artwork across a range of time periods, all displayed together to showcase specific themes, as well as encourage discussions. Visitors can expect to find favorites in the gallery, such as works by Shirley Smith and John Steuart, alongside pieces that have re-emerged from storage after many years on hiatus.
The permanent art collection of the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art consists of more than seven thousand works of art that emphasize the artwork of the state of Kansas, as well as the region. The art museum collects works of art across all media from historical works to more contemporary artwork. This permanent collection is the foundation for the many activities offered by the museum, and serves as a basis for the museum to act as a center for the research and study of the region’s visual art. Among the numerous works of art on display at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum are works by contemporary artists of Kansas, including Andrzej Zielinski, Jane Booth, and Roger Shimomura.
In January of 1928, Kansas State University dedicated the now Hale Library, then known as the Farrell Library. The building displayed a temporary art collection consisting of more than one hundred prints and paintings by Birger Sandzén in the library’s art gallery. Sandzén was a Swedish-born art professor and painter that taught art at Bethany College in Kansas. A fundraising campaign was organized in February of the same year to acquire two large oil paintings by Sandzén. These two paintings became the start of the art collection of Kansas State University.
For several decades, the art collection of the university was housed across campus in offices and public spaces. This collection focuses on art from the region, and Kansas in particular. Funds were raised in 1990 to build a museum on campus to house the growing art collection. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art opened to visitors in 1996, named such because of the lead gift to the university from Ross and Marianna Beach. The collection of the museum has now grown from fewer than 1,500 works of art when it opened back in 1996 to almost 10,000 works today.
701 Beach Lane, Manhattan, Kansas, Phone: 785-532-7718
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Attraction Spotlight: Sunset Zoo
Sunset Zoo is home to more than two hundred fascinating animals, from the anteater to the zebu. Located in Manhattan, Kansas, the zoo provides an up-close look of these amazing created, such as otters, leopand, a variety of primates, and wallaby. The land of the Flint Hills is definitely represented in the terrain of Sunset Zoo. While the terrain is beautiful, it also makes for some steep hills, so visitors should plan for steep inclines in some areas of the zoo. The paths leading to the tiger and gibbon exhibits in particular feature steep inclines.
The Sunset Zoo also features several different gardens in addition to its numerous exhibits of amazing animals. One such garden at the zoo is the Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden. Situated along the South American Trail at Sunset Zoo, just to the east of the zoo’s education building, the garden consists of plants native to the area that draw in an array of species of butterflies. Visitors can also learn about how to plan their own butterfly garden.
The Rain Gardens at Sunset Zoo were created thanks to the Kansas State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture. With the efforts by both students and faculty of the department, the zoo was able to add two spaces of rain gardens on its ground. Located along the exhibits of the Kansas Plains, the Rain Gardens can be found near the concession stand. The gardens are filled with native plants and wells that have been strategically designed to collect and hold water runoff temporarily. The water collected slowly seeps into the ground, helping to prevent issues of erosion downstream, recharging the water supplies underground, and naturally refreshing the plants in the gardens.
Sunset Zoo’s Pat Freeman’s Hummingbird Garden is situated along the South American Trail of the zoo, near the Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden. Visitors can get a look at hummingbirds as they fly from plant to plant, feeding on the sweet nectar provided by the garden’s plants. The Sally Hummel Wagner Memorial Garden was built at the zoo due to Sally Hummel’s passion for animals, and cats in particular. The garden was originally located near the zoo’s tiger exhibit. Due to the Sunset Zoo’s Expedition Asia project, it was moved to the gibbons exhibit’s upper viewing area. Visitors can sit and relax on a bunch under the shady trees of the garden and view the several bronze statues.
The Sensory Garden of the Town and Country Garden Club is designed to stimulate all of the senses of visitors. The garden is situated at the base of the ramp and stairs that lead to main area of Sunset Zoo. One of the most notable features of the Sensory Garden is its caterpillar planter. This garden provides a great space for guests to stop and rest during their visit.
In 1933, the Sunset Zoo was founded by the Manhattan Board of Parks and Recreation. Since then, the zoo has been an educational and cultural asset of the local community for more than eighty years. The zoo has long been committed to adhering to the highest standards of animal care.
2333 Oak Street, Manhattan, KS, Phone: 785-587-2737
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Attraction Spotlight: Kansas State Insect Zoo
The goal of the Insect Zoo at Kansas State University is to increase awareness and encourage a better understanding of the natural, microcosmic world, as well as the significant roles that the world’s numerous insects and other related creatures play in it. The Insect Zoo is open to visitors Tuesdays through Fridays from one in the afternoon to six in the evening. The facility is also open on Saturdays from noon until six in the evening, as well by appointment. The Kansas State Insect Zoo, located in Manhattan, Kansas, features several displays of fossil, preserved, and live insects.
Opened to the public in the year 1999, the Kansas State Insect Zoo is contained within the university’s old Dairy Barn situated on campus. The Insect Zoo provides several interactive exhibits for the public to enjoy. Each of these interactive experiences allows visitors to discover the smells, sounds, and sights of many live and somewhat creepy insects.
Such creepy crawlies include beetles, praying mantises, tarantulas, centipedes, giant prickly and walking sticks, and scorpions. Many of the insect display exhibits are interactive, allowing guests to get hands-on with the information, including using microscopes to look at preserved insect specimens. There is also a creative kitchen displays with which visitors can open drawers and cupboard to view examples, as well as detailed information, about the various insects that could be found there.
Visitors to the Insect Zoo at Kansas State University can choose to take a formal tour of the facility, during which trained docents or entomologists lead an informative guided tour. Visitors can also choose to explore the Insect Zoo as part of a self-guided tour if they wish as well. The several interactive displays throughout the Kansas State Insect Zoo contain detailed information about the distribution, importance, habitat, and biology of the different species of insects, allowing guests who decide to explore the facility on their own to still gain a much better understanding of the world of insects.
The Insect Zoo at Kansas State University spans approximately 1,100 square feet in size. Housed in what used to be the Dairy Barn on campus, the Insect Zoo opened to visitors in 1999 on the campus of Kansas State University. The facility’s numerous exhibits are both interesting and educational. These insect displays include the Tropical Nighthouse, Tropical Tree, a Mock Kitchen, Amazon Rainforest, Observation Beehive, and Freshwater Habitat. There are also several terraria displays that feature a variety of insect species, such as scorpions, tarantulas, spiders, tropical insects, and other various arthropods.
Guided tours are offered at the Kansas State Insect Zoo, and should be booked in advance by at least one week. A guided tour can provide a more in-depth look at the Insect Zoo with the guidance of trained and knowledgeable staff. These tours last about forty-five to sixty minutes each session, and are led by staff from Kansas State University’s Entomology Department. The tour also includes an educational lesson that features interaction with live animals. These tours are limited to twenty-two guests.
1531 Mid Campus Drive, Manhattan, Kansas, Phone: 785-532-6110
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