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.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
Updated August 19, 2020
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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.

Do

Aggieville In the heart of Manhattan, a vibrant student-packed neighborhood draws visitors with its bookstores, gift shops, restaurants and bars. aggieville.org

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). chasecountychamber.org

Chase County Courthouse

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. flinthillsdiscovery.org

Flint Hills Discovery Center. Photo: Blaine Moats.

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. fws.gov

Flint Hills National Scenic Byway Soldiers from Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry rode out from this military base outside Manhattan. Three museums depict the life of those elite soldiers and display some of Frederic Remington’s works. naturalkansas.org

Fort Riley Soldiers from General George Armstrong Custer's Seventh Cavalry rode out from this still-active military base outside Manhattan. Three museums depicts the life of those elite soldiers and display some of Frederick Remington's works. riley.army.mil

Grandma Hoerner's Foods Pull off of I-70 in Alma to learn about canning at this sprawling organic foods plant that sells pie fillings, fruit spreads and local gifts. grandmahoerners.com

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 from 1851 to 1854. Artifacts of the Kansa (Kaw) tribe, Santa Fe Trail and town fill the limestone building in Council Grove. kawmission.org

Konza Prairie Biological Station Nature trails with panoramic views crisscross the 8,600 acres of untouched prairie south of Manhattan. keep.konza.ksu.edu

Konza Prairie Biological Station. Photo: Blaine Moats.

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. liquidartwinery.com

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. travelks.com

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. Ranger programs and tours leave from the visitors center 3 miles north of Strong City. nps.gov

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Photo: Blaine Moats.

Eat

Ad Astra Food and Drink The Strong City eatery stays true to local roots by using area meats and produce for fare like gourmet burgers, salads, sandwiches and steaks. Ad Astra on Facebook

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

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. bourbonandbakermanhattan.com

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

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. cocobolos.com

Hays House Restaurant The 163-year-old Council Grove eatery dishes affordable comfort food. Don’t miss the skillet-fried chicken. hayshouse.com

Little Apple Brewing Company This steer-and-beer spot in Manhattan serves handcrafted brews and dinners such as Argentine steak with chimichurri sauce. littleapplebrewery.com

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. radinascoffee.com

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. radiusbrewing.com

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. solongsaloon.com

Taco Lucha The colorful decor 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. tacoluchamanhattan.com

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

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. varsitydonuts.com

Varsity Donuts. Photo: Blaine Moats.

Stay

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

Bluemont Hotel. Photo: Doug Stremel.

Historic Elgin Hotel The three-story 1886 limestone hotel in Marion features 12 suites and a gourmet three-course breakfast. historicelginhotel.com

Grand Central Hotel and Grill The Cottonwood Falls restaurant is known for its hearty steak-and-potato dinners (the cheeseburger is listed as "lighter fare"). The hotel prides itself on ranch-theme rooms and preservation of 1884 style. grandcentralhotel.com

Prairiewood Retreat and Preserve Perfect for special events and overnights, the resort’s luxury guest houses sit on 400 acres of prairie near Manhattan. prairiewood.com

For information visitmanhattanks.org

Day trip

Lindsborg Among the Western-flavored towns of this region, Swedish-settled Lindsborg (90 miles southwest of Manhattan) 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. lindsborgcity.org