Trip Guide to Manhattan and the Flint Hills | Midwest Living

Trip Guide to Manhattan and the Flint Hills

The purple passion of K-Staters (Kansas State University) infuses the college town of Manhattan, but visitors also come to the area to explore the tallgrass prairie of the Flint Hills.
Flint Hills Discovery Center
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Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
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Annual prairie burn on Flying W Ranch
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Madonna of the Trail
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Aggieville In the heart of Manhattan, a vibrant student-packed neighborhood draws visitors with its bookstores, gift shops, restaurants and bars.

Flint Hills Discovery Center The Manhattan center immerses visitors in the tallgrass prairie. Winds gust, snow falls and smoke billows during the film Tallgrass Prairie: Tides of Time. You’ll leave understanding the importance of preserving the grasses—root system to seedheads. . (785) 587-2726;

Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge Trails meander through woods and past Neosho River. A boardwalk accesses the marsh in this 18,463-acre preserve in Hartford, 90 miles southeast of Manhattan.

Flint Hills National Scenic Byway The 48-mile route traverses the plains between Council Grove (a rendezvous spot on the Santa Fe Trail; 38 miles south of Manhattan)) and Cassoday. Stop for views of rippling grasses and at historical sites.

Fort Riley Soldiers from General George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry rode out from this still-active military base outside Manhattan. The museum depicts the life of those elite soldiers and displays many of Frederick Remington’s works.

Kaw Mission State Historic Site And Museum Members of the Kaw nation host powwows near the museum, which was a boarding school for Native American boys (mostly orphans) from 1851 to 1854. Artifacts of the Kansa (Kaw) tribe, Santa Fe Trail and town fill the two-story limestone building in Council Grove.

Konza Prairie Biological Station Hike trails and view bison and greater prairie chickens at a tallgrass prairie research station south of Manhattan. (785) 587-0441;

Madonna of the Trail In Council Grove, the statue is one of 25 landmarks on a self-guided tour examining the meetings of the Kaw tribe and Santa Fe Trail pioneers. 

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve The 2-mile-long Southwind Nature Trail leads from streambed to overlook for views of the 11,000 acres of preserved prairie. There are 40-plus miles of hiking trails for more immersive experiences. Ranger programs and tours leave from the visitors center (56 miles south of Manhattan and 3 miles north of Strong City).


Bluestem Bistro Red-and-white checkerboard  flooring sets a cheery tone at this Manhattan coffeehouse serving fresh scones, quiches, cheesecake and more.

The Chef Cafe When Manhattanites want to eat breakfast out, they head here for egg-stuffed burritos, caramel cream-cheese French toast and fluffy pancakes. (785) 537-6843;

Coco Bolos Wood Fired Grill and Cantina Although the interior of this Manhattan eatery is pure south of the border, food is from around the globe, including the Cuban grilled pork sandwich and Thai BBQ pork. (785) 537-4700;

Della Voce Italian dishes star at this fine-dining venue downtown, where a comprehensive wine and drinks list accompanies the menu. All house wine is half-price on Pizza and Jazz Sundays. (785) 532-9000;

Harry’s Restaurant On the ground floor of six-story Wareham Hotel—Manhattan’s first skyscraper—the restaurant serves hand-cut Kobe beef steaks, fresh fish and marinated duck. (785) 537-1300;

Little Apple Brewing Company This steer-and-beer establishment in Manhattan’s West Loop Shopping Center serves hand-crafted brews and slabs of juicy grass-fed Angus beef.

Radina’s Coffeehouse and Bakehouse It takes a row of blackboards to list all the coffee drinks (made with beans they roast), teas and smoothies. Pastries fill a glass case, and the laid-back spot in Manhattan serves light lunches.

So Long Saloon Brews and burgers are a pretty typical combo; not so here. They get creative with the burgers: Resist Temptation piles on fried egg, bacon and cheese. Expect a wait in the 46-seat eatery in Manhattan.

Vista Drive-In Little has changed since it opened in 1964. The family-owned Manhattan joint still grills quarter-pound burgers to order, still serves the family’s secret-recipe chili and still squeezes the limes for the limeade. (785) 537-0100;

Wahoo Fire and Ice Grill Whether you order a pizza, sandwich or seafood at this must-stop Manhattan place, it’ll be tasty and generous. Guaranteed.


Flying W Ranch Work like a cowboy on this 7,000-acre cattle ranch—even take part in a prairie burn—or chill like a guest on the porch. Horseback rides, wagon rides, wildflower walks and stargazing trips get visitors into the prairie around Cedar Point (73 miles southwest of Manhattan).

Grand Central Hotel and Grill The Cottonwood Falls restaurant is known for its cut-to-order beef, the hotel for its preservation of 1884 style. Just south of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

For information: Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 759-0134;

Day trip

Lindsborg Among the Western-flavored towns of this region, Swedish-settled Lindsborg stands out as an anomaly. Visitors from Scandinavia say Lindsborg looks more Swedish than Sweden. You’ll find Old World-inspired shops, galleries, inns, bakeries and restaurants. Many shops carry Swedish imports; be sure to buy a colorful Dala horse as a souvenir.

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