Nestled quietly in the Flint Hills of Kansas sits the town of Manhattan. Manhattan is home to Kansas State University (KSU), the National Biological and Agricultural Defense Facility and is a short drive to Fort Riley, home of the 1st Infantry Division. You might think,”It’s Kansas, there is nothing to do here in the middle of nowhere.” Well, I beg to differ–we are in the middle of everywhere!
There is so much history and unique places to visit throughout the state. You may have to drive a little, but a good road trip with friends while jamming out to the radio or talking about how KSU will dominate the NCAA this year makes the drive worth it. In this article, I comprised a list of places to visit within a two-hour drive from Manhattan.
- Tuttle Creek Lake, a stone’s throw away from campus, has plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. If you love to fish or want to try fishing, you can find plenty of fish to catch here. Stop by the local bait store located on Tuttle Creek Boulevard, where the owners will be happy to get you suited with the best bait and rods.
If you enjoy mountain biking, the biking trails at Tuttle Creek are some of the steepest in the state. There is also a Disc Golf course at the state park, and more fishing at Rocky Ford State Park, as well as canoeing, camp sites and kayak rentals.
- Just down the road in Abilene, KS is the boyhood home and Presidential Library of the 34th President, Dwight (Ike) D. Eisenhower. Not only was he the 34th President, but he was also the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II and rose to the rank of General of the Army (Five Stars). In Abilene, you can tour his home and visit one of 15 current Presidential Libraries.
- On Feb. 7th, 2021, Bruce Springsteen, “The Boss”, filmed a commercial for Super Bowl LV (55) located in the geographical center of the Continental United States–Lebanon, KS. Lebanon is a short two and a half hour drive from Manhattan!
- Drive an hour East on I-70 and you will run into the capital of Kansas–Topeka. Topeka is also home to the landmark decision that desegregated the United States school system in the 1950’s (Brown v. The Board of Education).
The landmark victory for equality was decades in the making. Attorneys, parents, scientists, activists, and students struggled to steer the nation toward justice. After the court’s decision, and even today, there is more work to be done by everyday citizens with a common goal — equality. This historic place is a must see for all educators and citizens of this great nation.
- As you’re driving through Kansas City, you may notice the tall obelisk near the Power and Lights District. The obelisk sits atop the World War I museum, dedicated to the brave men and women who fought gallantly to end the oppression in Europe during the early 20th Century. The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.
- Did you know that baseball was once segregated? Some of the most iconic and influential baseball players came from the Negro Leagues. Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Rube Foster are just a few of the players who played during this time. Right down the road from the World War I Museum, a museum dedicated to the players and barrier breakers of this league sits in Kansas City. The Negro League Baseball Museum is a must see for all fans of the sport–and you can still watch the Kansas City Monarchs play at Legends Field in Kansas City, KS.
This list could go on and on with places to see and things to do that are a short drive from Manhattan. Get out and explore the surrounding areas, even if you must drive a couple of hours. Take this time in your life to travel and see everything you can because as you grow older, you will regret not taking advantage of the opportunities you have at your fingertips.
Graphic by: Catie Burr