Top 10 reasons to check out the Little Apple

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Chowing down

Along with favorite national chains, Manhattan is dotted with unique specialty restaurants that draw people from surrounding communities. Check out Harry’s, in the historic Wareham Hotel on Poyntz Avenue, for award-winning dishes such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Pinot Noir Blackberry Duck. Coco Bolos, Bourbon & Baker, Della Voce, 4 Olives Restaurant & Wine Bar — it’s a long list designed to tantalize foodies.

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Shop ’til you drop

If you haven’t been to Manhattan in a while, your jaw will drop when you approach the east side, near Manhattan Town Center Mall. This retail shopping district has grown since about 2007, featuring most of the top retail stores shoppers want. With a shopping district spread on both sides of US-24 highway, or Tuttle Creek Boulevard, it will take you more than an afternoon to explore. But don’t forget the west side of town, where you’ll find Pier I Imports, Target, Marshalls and specialty shops.

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Naturally speaking

Western Kansas is known for its somewhat flat terrain, but the beautiful Flint Hills in northeastern Kansas are a treasure many who live here don’t appreciate. But spend an afternoon at Deep Creek Waterfall at Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area, just off K-177 highway on the way into Manhattan. The area has long drawn Manhattan residents, and a lot of students, to wade in the waters and enjoy Kansas sunshine. You’ll also find Tuttle Creek Lake just north of Manhattan on US-24 highway, where you can swim, rent kayaks or canoes, or enjoy a disk golf course.

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Zip and hike

You’ll get up close and personal with nature when you venture onto the seven-course zipline Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park, complete with a free-fall tower at the end. Opened in 2015, the park has hiking trails and an opportunity to see the Flint Hills.

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Flint Hill Discovery

Opened in Manhattan’s downtown in 2012, the Flint Hills Discovery Center encourages the exploration of the Flint Hills. The Horizon Ranch Flint Hills Immersive Theater brings four-dimensional experiences to a film about the prairie, including snow and wind that will ruffle the audience’s hair. The movie has moved people to tears, discovery center employees said. Through Sept. 11, visitors can see “Amazing Dinosaurs!” along with the permanent exhibits.

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Getting artsy

The arts scene in Manhattan is active and varied, befitting the energy and enthusiasm of a university town. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Arts and McCain Auditorium on the K-State campus will please all your artistic senses. The McCain Performance Series is an exciting list of Broadway shows, top performers and diverse cultural experiences. The Manhattan Arts Center, 1520 Poyntz Ave., offers galleries and productions, along with art classes for all ages.

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Building blocks

If it’s not enough to gawk at the historical limestone buildings that dominate the beautiful Kansas State University campus, visit to check out all the new construction. K-State has been investing heavily in its campus, including the newly opened Berney Family Welcome Center, which was created in the historic Memorial Stadium by saving the façade but doing an internal remodel. The K-State Student Union is undergoing a significant revamp, too, entirely led by students who designed their wish list for the space.

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Bottoms up

Manhattan is home to a brand-new winery, Liquid Art, 1745 Wildcat Creek Road, and several breweries that offer specialty drinks and entertaining environments. Liquid Art is perched atop a rolling hill that lays out the Flint Hills as a background. The Tallgrass Tap House opened at 320 Poyntz Ave. in June; you can grab a seat on the rooftop for a view of downtown Manhattan. The Little Apple Brewing Co. has been around since 1995, brewing up Wildcat Wheat Ale and Prairie Pale Ale. In the Westloop Shopping Center, it’s also known for steaks, receiving the Kansas and the National Beef Backer award.

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The PGA-sanctioned Colbert Hills has ranked as one of the 50 toughest courses in the country by Golf Digest, and its elevation changes over the rolling Flint Hills will challenge the most experienced golfers. It’s open to the public, and if you’re not a golfer, you can check out the restaurant and event venue.

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Simply Aggieville

No visit to Manhattan is complete without exploring Aggieville, the historic shopping and entertainment district that offers a variety of restaurants, bars, stores and fun. Yes, it’s the hang-out spot for college students on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s also ideal for an afternoon shopping trip or a weekend getaway. You’ll find everything from The Dusty Bookshelf, every bookworm’s dream store, to Varsity Donuts, where you can splurge on specialty flavors. (Be sure to check out the Maple Bacon.)


Manhattan’s growing, thriving community has become a regional shopping and entertainment center, a sports draw with winning K-State teams and a national and even international player in biosciences with the upcoming National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

A few miles off Interstate 70 and about 55 miles west of Topeka, Manhattan is an easy drive that offers Topekans a change of pace for a day or weekend away. Here are 10 of the top reasons to check out The Little Apple.

RELATED: Here is our special Manhattan section as it ran in The Topeka Capital-Journal on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016.

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