The Little Apple: 10 Things to Do in Manhattan, Kansas (2024)

Nestled in the heart of the Sunflower State, Manhattan, Kansas, offers a delightful blend of college town charm and Midwestern hospitality. I talked my proud Jayhawk of a husband into venturing with me to Wildcat territory for a fun weekend–just two hours west of Kansas City.

We checked into our room at the Hilton Garden Inn and spent three busy days exploring Manhattan, Kansas. Here’s my top 10 list of things to do in this vibrant city:

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  1. Roam Kansas State University campus:

  • While in Manhattan, I’d start things off by getting to know the city’s crown jewel: Kansas State University. Wander through the iconic campus, taking in the beautiful architecture and absorbing all that Royal Purple energy.

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  1. Tour the Flint Hills Discovery Center:

  • Dive into the rich natural and cultural history of the Flint Hills at the Discovery Center. Interactive exhibits and engaging displays make this a must-visit for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike.

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  1. Indulge in a half-dozen at Varsity Donuts:

  • Eric and I are big donut people. So when Varsity Donuts popped up on my list of recommendations, we were in. The interior is darling and the donuts are fun: from “Party Girl” and K-Stater” to Oreo, Fruity Pebble and Red Velvet. Perfect for a morning treat or an afternoon pick-me-up.

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  1. Grab a cup of ‘jo at Arrow Coffee:

  • “Best coffee in ____” is one of my most common Google searches. A city’s coffee scene tells me just about everything I need to know. And Manhattan does not disappoint in the caffeine arena. Google led me to Arrow Coffee–known for their artisanal coffee and bright, inviting atmosphere, this local favorite is the ideal spot to kickstart your Manhattan adventure.

    My recommendation: the lavender mocha.

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  1. Savor an evening at Bourbon & Baker:

  • Indulge in a truly culinary experience at Bourbon & Baker, a gastropub with a tapas-style twist, blending Southern and Midwestern influences. Eric and I ordered a number of small plates, including cornbread sliders, deviled eggs, shakshuka, and Brussels sprouts—paired, of course, with a carefully curated bourbon flight. Each dish exceeded expectations, making this our standout meal during our visit to Manhattan.

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  1. Explore automotive history at the Midwest Dream Car Collection:

  • Regardless of your level of “car nut,” a visit to the Midwest Dream Car Collection is a must. Eric and I were so impressed (special thanks to Executive Director Chris Gergeni for the super insightful tour!). You’ll delight in a captivating display of classic and rare cars, offering a unique glimpse into the evolution of automotive design across the decades.

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  1. Have lunch at Taco Lucha:

  • Savor the flavors of Mexico at Taco Lucha. With an extensive menu of creative and delicious tacos, this spot is perfect for a midday meal that combines bold tastes and a lively atmosphere. Our recommendations: el mexicano, buffalo chicken and carnitas tacos.

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  1. Embark on an animal adventure at Sunset Zoo:

  • Immerse yourself in the wonders of wildlife at Sunset Zoo, a family-friendly spot boasting a diverse array of animals and exhibits. Eric and I found this to be the most engaging zoo experience to date. (And we visit a lot of zoos…) The wild cats stole the show without a doubt, a fitting highlight given we were in the heart of Wildcat territory!

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  1. Enjoy a flight at Tall Grass Tap House:

  • Spotted: two Jayhawk fans at a K-State bar…

    Fully embracing the spirited local showdown between KU and K-State, Eric and I took our seats downtown to catch the game. We cheered on our team (silently) among a sea of purple and silver. We lost :( But all was not lost! We drowned our sorrows in a delightful flight of craft brews, turning another Jayhawks Football defeat into a victory for our taste buds.

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  1. Take in the nightlife at Aggieville:

  • It just isn’t a trip to Manhattan without a night out at the iconic Aggieville. This historic district offers an array of bars and restaurants, providing the perfect setting to cap off your Manhattan adventure. Our favorite? So Long Bar for some raspberry black bean dip and a couple of Nancies!

From university vibes to culinary delights and wildlife adventures, this vibrant little city has a little something for everyone. Manhattan, Kansas: you’ve officially stolen the these little Jayhawks’ hearts!

Thank you so much to Marcia at the Manhattan CVB for hosting Eric and me!

Keep up with Mariah at lifewithmariah.com!

The Little Apple: 10 Things to Do in Manhattan, Kansas (2024)
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