Roam the largest stretch of unplowed tallgrass prairie left in North America, small towns that pack a lot of history and Kansas State University’s vibrant hometown of Manhattan. Check out our guide of what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Manhattan and the Flint Hills.
Konza Prairie Biological Station
Konza Prairie Biological Station
| Credit: Blaine Moats

Your visit to Kansas' Flint Hills area should start in the vibrant college town of Manhattan, where you can get an overview of the area at the Flint Hills Discovery Center and enjoy the city's restaurants, shopping and lodging. Then head toward the Flint Hills Scenic Byway to discover towns like Council Grove and Cottonwood Falls as well as the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.

Chase County Courthouse
Credit: Doug Stremel


Chase County Courthouse 

Take a self-guided tour of the striking 1873 French Renaissance-style Cottonwood Falls building (the oldest Kansas courthouse still in use).

Manhattan and Flint Hills Trip Guide
Flint Hills Discovery Center
| Credit: Blaine Moats

Flint Hills Discovery Center 

The Manhattan center leaves visitors with a deeper appreciation for this region. Winds gust, snow falls and smoke billows during the immersive 15-minute film Tallgrass Prairie: Tides of Time. Exhibits detail the prairie ecosystem.

Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge 

Trails meander through woods and past Neosho River. A boardwalk accesses the marsh in this 18,463-acre Hartford preserve.

Flint Hills National Scenic Byway 

The 47-mile route traverses the plains between Council Grove (on the SantaFe Trail) and Cassoday. Stop for views of rippling grasses and at historical sites.

Fort Riley

Explore the past inside the U.S. Cavalry Museum and the Custer House officers' quarters at one of the oldest continuously operating military bases west of the Mississippi River.

Kaw Mission State Historic Site And Museum 

Expected to reopen in 2022 after renovations; check website for latest. A former school and supply shop have recently combined for a dual history lesson. At Kaw Mission—built to educate Kaw boys—learn about the crossroads of cultures formed by the Santa Fe Trail.

Konza Prairie Biological Station 

Nature trails with panoramic views crisscross the 8,600 acres of untouched prairie south of Manhattan.

Madonna of the Trail 

In Council Grove, the statue is one of 24 landmarks on a tour examining the history of the Kaw tribe and Santa Fe Trail pioneers in the area.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
| Credit: Blaine Moats

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, as well as an 1884 one-room schoolhouse. Check into ranger programs and tours.

Eat and Drink

Bourbon and Baker

In Manhattan, a small-plate menu encourages sampling of Southern-inspired dishes like shrimp étouffée or sausage biscuit sliders. Wash it all down with one of more than 70 bourbon varieties.

The Chef Cafe 

When Manhattanites want to eat breakfast out, they head here for egg-stuffed burritos and caramel cream-cheese French toast.

Hays House Restaurant

Since 1857, the Council Grove eatery has been dishing affordable comfort food. Don't miss the skillet-fried chicken.

Little Apple Brewing Company 

This steer-and-beer spot in Manhattan serves handcrafted brews and dinners such as Argentine steak with chimichurri sauce.

Liquid Art Winery and Estate 

Take in Flint Hills views with a flight of wine or craft cider at the Manhattan tasting room, event center and winery.

Radina's Coffeehouse and Roastery 

It takes a row of blackboards to list all the coffee drinks (made with fresh-roasted beans), teas and smoothies. Pastries fill a case, and the Manhattan spot serves light lunches.

Radius Brewing Company 

As good as the brews are at this Emporia gem, they play second fiddle to the pizzas, like the Green Goat with kale, goat cheese, roasted garlic and caramelized onions.

So Long Saloon 

Brews and burgers are a pretty typical combo; not so here. The Manhattan eatery gets creative with the burgers: Resist Temptation piles on fried egg, bacon and cheese.

Taco Lucha
| Credit: Doug Stremel

Taco Lucha 

The colorful decor at this Manhattan spot is as funky and fun as the menu. Go with a traditional taco choice or check out daily specials for fare like the Loaded Potato Taco with grilled sirloin, potatoes, bacon and garlic sour cream.

Tallgrass Tap House 

The 11,000-square-foot brewpub keeps things lively with a rotating selection of craft brews and a rooftop patio.

Trail Days Cafe and Museum

In an 1861 stone home in Council Grove, savor from-scratch meals of bison pot roast and schnitzel with sides of history.

Varsity Donuts
Credit: Blaine Moats

Varsity Donuts 

Visit Manhattan's sweetest spot during the day for maple bars and bike rentals, or stop by the late-night food truck for bacon bomb fritters.

Bluemont Hotel
Bluemont Hotel
| Credit: Doug Stremel


Bluemont Hotel 

The Manhattan hotel gives nods to adjacent Kansas State University with its royal purple color scheme and KSU memorabilia.

Historic Elgin Hotel 

The three-story 1886 limestone hotel in Marion features 12 suites and a gourmet three-course breakfast.

The Lark Inn Guesthouses

Each of these nine creatively outfitted and fully furnished retreats—including a former Presbyterian church—make for memorable stays in Cottonwood Falls.

Prairiewood Retreat and Preserve 

Perfect for special events and overnights, the resort's luxury guest houses sit on 400 acres of prairie near Manhattan.

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