If the name ‘Manhattan’ conjures images of tall skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and large crowds, you’re probably thinking of New York City. Kansas has its own Manhattan, though despite sharing a name with NYC’s famous borough, Manhattan in Kansas is utterly different to the Big Apple.
This college town is home to the main campus of Kansas State University. Founded in 1855, Manhattan is in the Midwest, surrounded by the tallgrass prairie landscape that once dominated North America. There’s natural beauty everywhere you look. From its eclectic cafes and restaurants to its lively downtown area lined with shops and bars catering to college students, here are some things to do in Manhattan, Kansas.
- Manhattan, Kansas
- 20 Things To Do In Manhattan
- 1- See The Konza Prairie
- 2- Step Back In History At The First Territorial Capitol
- 3- Admire At At Strecker Nelson West Gallery
- 4- Visit Flint Hills Discovery Center
- 5- Watch A Game At Bill Snyder Family Stadium
- 6- Smell The Roses At Kansas State University Gardens
- 7- Go Cycling Along The Linear Park Trail
- 8- See The Animals At The Sunset Zoo
- 9- Explore Riley County Historical Museum
- 10- See The Midwest Dream Car Collection
- 11- Enjoy Local Art At The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum
- 12- Cheer On The Teams At Bramlage Coliseum
- 13- Learn About Life On The Prairies At Goodnow House
- 14- Visit The Kansas State Insect Zoo
- 15- Tuttle Creek State Park
- 16- Go Bar Hopping In Aggieville
- 17- Enjoy The View From Manhattan Hill
- 18- Meet The Locals In The Downtown Farmers Market
- 19- Go Ziplining At Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park
- 20- Admire The Architecture Of Wolf House Museum
- 20 Things To Do In Manhattan
20 Things To Do In Manhattan
1- See The Konza Prairie
The scenic and sprawling Konza Prairie covers an area of over 8,600 acres (3,487 ha) and falls under the protection of Kansas State University, which uses the area for research and conservation purposes.
A small section of what was once a 170 million acre (68 million ha) stretch of the tallgrass prairie, which ran from Canada to Texas, the Konza Prairie is a natural oasis with over 600 plant species, bison, deer and cattle.
The prairie is filled with scenic nature trails open to the public for free every day between 6 am and 9 pm.
Konza Prairie is at 100 Konza Prairie Ln, Manhattan, KS 66502.
2- Step Back In History At The First Territorial Capitol
Pawnee, located near the banks of the Kansas River, was the capital of the Kansas Territory for five days in July 1855 before being moved to Fairway.
Today, few snippets of Pawnee’s famous five days remain, except for the grandiose stone building known as the First Territorial Capital, where the Kansas legislators met briefly to discuss the state’s stance on slavery.
The First Territorial Capital was renovated in 1928 by Union Pacific after falling in disrepair and houses various artefacts and exhibits across its two-story display area.
Some sights to see at the First Territorial Capital include the Early Town of Pawnee and the Kansas Memory – First Territorial Capitol Restoration Program.
First Territorial Capital is at 693 Huebner Road, Fort Riley, KS 66442.
3- Admire At At Strecker Nelson West Gallery
Situated in the middle of Downtown Manhattan, the Strecker Nelson West Gallery is an art gallery dedicated to displaying local and regional artworks and artists, specialising in paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glassware, prints, drawings and jewellery.
Opened in 1980 by Julie Strecker before being under the management of Jay & Barbara Nelson, and later Alyn Pennington West and her husband, Kevin, the facility is one of Manhattan’s most respected cultural landmarks.
The gallery’s artworks are all for sale and can be a great destination to pick up an eye-catching art piece or two to take home with you.
Strecker Nelson West Gallery is at 406½ Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.
4- Visit Flint Hills Discovery Center
The fully interactive, hands-on Flint Hills Discovery Center is one of the Midwest’s most unique and significant museums and education centres.
Opened in 2012, this modern facility aims to protect and showcase the region’s unique tallgrass prairie ecology, the dominant ecology of North America’s central region, which now only covers an area of less than 3% of North America.
A large chunk of this 3% grows around the Flint Hills region, making the Flint Hills Discovery Center a vital facility for educating visitors about the region’s unique landscape and the importance of preserving it.
This eco-friendly, fully sustainable building is as impressive on the outside as it is inside, making it one of Manhattan’s top destinations.
Flint Hills Discovery Center is at 315 S 3rd St, Manhattan, KS 66502.
5- Watch A Game At Bill Snyder Family Stadium
The Bill Snyder Family Stadium is the biggest sporting venue in all of Manhattan and the proud home of the Wildcats, the football team of Kansas State University.
Playing their games in the Big 12 Conference, the Wildcats first started playing in the Bill Snyder Family Stadium in 1968, which kicked off what would become an incredibly successful period for the Wildcats.
The stadium was named in honour of long-time head coach Bill Snyder, who coached the Wildcats during their most successful period.
He was the coach between the 1990s and the 2010s, even managing an undefeated season in 1998.
Seeing the Wildcats play inside this 50,000-seat stadium is always a lively affair and one of the best things to do in Manhattan to get into the sporting groove.
Bill Snyder Family Stadium is at 2201 Kimball Ave, Manhattan, KS 66502.
6- Smell The Roses At Kansas State University Gardens
The sizeable 19-acre (8 ha) botanical garden is on the main campus of Kansas State University and is a public space and living laboratory.
The gardens are open to the public during daylight hours from March to November every year and are a work-in-progress for the university, which aims to turn it into a world-class botanical centre.
Home to a beautiful array of roses, lilies, and peonies, the Kansas State University Gardens are a real treat to visit during summer in Manhattan.
Kansas State University Gardens is at 1500 Denison Ave, Manhattan, KS 66506.
7- Go Cycling Along The Linear Park Trail
The Linear Bike Trail is a favourite outdoor attraction for Manhattanites hoping to enjoy the great outdoors or get some exercise.
An interconnected system of multiple individual trails, the Linear Bike Trail can be accessed from various parts of Manhattan, such as on Richards Drive or Temple Lane.
Partly paved and partly covered with crushed limestone, the trail spans 9 miles (14 km) and stretches around the city from Anneberg Park to Northeast Community Park.
Its beautiful scenery makes the Linear Bike Path popular among cyclists, joggers, and families on a leisurely stroll past Manhattan’s stunning natural scenery.
8- See The Animals At The Sunset Zoo
The Sunset Zoo in Downtown Manhattan is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, having been established in 1933 by Dr E.J. Frick, the head of Surgery and Medicine at Kansas State University.
Housing 300 animals and 100 different animal species, the zoo is relatively compact but ensures its animals are housed in modern and spacious enclosures.
Spread across 26 acres (11 ha), the zoo can easily be toured in an afternoon, making a visit one of the top things to do in Manhattan for families.
Sunset Zoo is at 2333 Oak Street, Manhattan, KS 66502.
9- Explore Riley County Historical Museum
The Riley County Historical Museum was established in 1914 by the Riley County Historical Society, which also happens to oversee five historical sites throughout Manhattan in addition to their museum.
The museum is to the west of the main campus of Kansas State University and houses several interesting exhibits and artefacts detailing Manhattan’s vibrant past.
Top displays include the Penny Farthing bicycle of Guy Varney, seats from the old Wareham Opera House and several artefacts of the Kansa Indians.
Riley County Historical Museum is at 2309 Claflin Rd, Manhattan, KS 66502.
10- See The Midwest Dream Car Collection
The Midwest Dream Car Collection was established in 2019 when local Manhattanites Ward and Brenda Morgan put their impressive car collection up for permanent display to the public.
Their collection includes more than 70 vehicles, dating from 1907 to the present day, as well as other exhibits and attractions, such as a kids’ room with LEGO sets and puzzles.
There’s a self-serve wine and beer wall for adults too.
Whether you’re a fan of exotic sports cars or classic muscle cars, the Midwest Dream Car Collection has something for you and the entire family to enjoy.
Midwest Dream Car Collection is at 3007 Anderson Ave, Manhattan, KS 66503.
11- Enjoy Local Art At The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum
The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art was established in 1996 to showcase contemporary art from artists across Kansas to the world.
The facility was named in honour of Ross and Marianna Beach from Hays, Kansas, who donated significantly to the facility and helped establish the museum.
The postmodern building in which the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art sits on the campus of Kansas State University and was designed by renowned architect Arthur Andersson.
Today, the museum encompasses five separate galleries, office space, classrooms, and an auditorium and displays over 10,000 pieces of art in rotating exhibitions.
Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is at 14th St & Anderson Ave, Manhattan, KS 66506.
12- Cheer On The Teams At Bramlage Coliseum
The Bramlage Coliseum is the official home of the Kansas State University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Kansas State Wildcats, and is also home to the university’s volleyball teams.
This 11,654-seater venue was built in 1988 and has undergone several renovations, making it a modern and state-of-the-art basketball venue right in the heart of Manhattan.
Not only is the Bramlage Coliseum an excellent sporting venue, but the venue regularly hosts concerts and live events, making it a fantastic Manhattan landmark worth checking out.
Bramlage Coliseum is at 1800 College Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.
13- Learn About Life On The Prairies At Goodnow House
Built by husband and wife Isaac and Ellen Goodnow, the Goodnow House tells and preserves the tale of the Abolitionists who migrated to Kansas and founded Manhattan during the 19th century.
The stone farmhouse building was constructed in 1861 and is a site of historical importance that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
The two-story Goodnow House gives you a unique glimpse into domestic life on the prairies during the 1800s and is one of the city’s best historical landmarks to visit.
Goodnow House is at 2301 Claflin Rd, Manhattan, KS 66502.
14- Visit The Kansas State Insect Zoo
Housed inside a renovated and repurposed dairy barn on the campus of Kansas State University, the one-of-a-kind Kansas State Insect Zoo displays thousands of live, fossilised, and preserved insects from all across the world.
The facility is compact but has intriguing displays for all ages and microscopes to view small insects.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday, the Kansas State Insect Zoo is a unique Manhattan attraction worth stopping at.
Kansas State Insect Zoo is at 1500 Denison Ave, Manhattan, KS 66506.
15- Tuttle Creek State Park
Tuttle Creek State Park is one of northeast Kansas’ best outdoor landmarks, situated just outside Downtown Manhattan in the scenic Flint Hills.
The Tuttle Creek State Park is a reservoir park with a recreational area of over 1,200 acres (486 ha) and over 12,000 acres (4,856 ha) of accessible waterways.
The park has campsites, beaches, volleyball courts and archery ranges, not to mention the 100 miles (161 km) of biking, hiking, and horseback trails scattered throughout the park.
The park is a fantastic place for birdwatching and an excellent destination to bring friends and family to enjoy the great Kansas outdoors.
Tuttle Creek State Park is at 5800 River Pond Rd A, Manhattan, KS 66502.
16- Go Bar Hopping In Aggieville
Aggieville has been the beloved centre of Manhattan’s shopping, nightlife, dining, and culture scenes since this six-block neighbourhood was established in 1889.
It’s location on the edge of the campus of Kansas State University means Aggieville is always buzzing with college students shopping for books, bar-hopping on weekends, or browsing through the 100+ shops.
The name Aggieville is a reference to the university’s roots as an agricultural school when the university was known as the Aggies instead of the Wildcats.
Aggieville is always busy, hosting events throughout the year, however, none are as big or as popular as the annual Little Apple New Year’s Eve, when thousands gather around midnight to see an illuminated apple drop the Rally House marquee.
Aggieville is at 1125 Moro St, Manhattan, KS 66502.
17- Enjoy The View From Manhattan Hill
One of Manhattan’s eight wonders, Manhattan Hill is a mound on the east side that overlooks this lively college town with the inscription ‘Manhattan’ in bold white lettering.
Manhattan Hill is one of the city’s most popular overlooks and provides views across Manhattan and the scenic campus of Kansas State University.
There are picnic tables and ample parking available at the mound, making Manhattan Hill an excellent place to visit in Manhattan.
Manhattan Hill is at Bluemont Dr, Manhattan, KS 66502.
18- Meet The Locals In The Downtown Farmers Market
Since 1979 the downtown area of Manhattan has played host to a farmers market, which takes place every Saturday morning.
The Downtown Farmers Market invites about 40 vendors to sell their fresh produce or handmade crafts to scores of locals looking to snap up great deals on items such as handmade soaps, jewellery, baked goods, and art.
The market is the oldest in Kansas and one of the city’s best places to meet the locals from this friendly Kansas town.
If you’re looking for the freshest, most organic produce or in the mood to mingle with Manhattanites, the Downtown Farmers Market is the place to go to.
Downtown Farmers Market is at 3rd & Leavenworth St, Manhattan, KS 66502.
19- Go Ziplining At Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park
Located in the Flint Hills just outside Manhattan, the Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park is a family-friendly outdoor wonderland where visitors can ride seven different zip lines or join a freefall course in a safe environment.
The park’s zip lines criss-cross over the canopies of trees and range between 100 feet (30 m) and 1,400 feet (427 m) in length.
Combining heart-thumping action with breathtaking views over the natural landscape, the Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park is a fantastic place to visit with the entire family.
Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park is at 375 Johnson Rd, Manhattan, KS 66502.
20- Admire The Architecture Of Wolf House Museum
The Wolf House Museum started life as a boarding home for the German Boarding House in 1868 and remained as such till 1938, when the Hepler family moved in, followed by the Wolf family in 1941.
Mrs Wolf gifted the house to the Riley County Historical Society in 1982.
It was turned into a museum detailing life in Manhattan during the 1880s, with period-correct furniture and décor pieces.
Wolf House Museum is at 630 Fremont St, Manhattan, KS 66502.