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 March 06, 2021
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Pandemic-related closures and restrictions may be in place. Please check destinations' websites before making travel plans.

Do

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

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

Manhattan and Flint Hills Trip Guide

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 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. naturalkansas.org

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. riley.army.mil

Kaw Mission State Historic Site And Museum 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. 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
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

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

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

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 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. 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

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. traildayscafeandmuseum.org

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
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
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

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. larkinnpropertymanagement.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