KonzaTrailSignWEBThe other Manhattan, in Kansas, not NYC, is far different from its eastern counterpart. There is plenty of free family fun.

You can go fishing or canoeing, or take a hike on trails that Backpacker Magazine named one of the top 100 day hikes in the country. Watch out for bison, deer or quail!

  • Splash Park (seasonal): Located in the southeast corner of Manhattan City Park, Splash Park is relaxing and refreshing family friendly pool. Beat the heat seven days a week while the pool is in season, beginning in late May, 11 am to 8 pm. 
  • Strecker-Nelson Gallery: Novice collectors or aficionados of art don’t want to miss the changing exhibits in this downtown Manhattan hotbed of paintings, photography, lithography, etchings, ceramics and sculpture by Kansas-based and regional artists.
  • K-State Gardens(seasonal): Soak in a kaleidoscopic swirl of colors, scents, sights and sounds in this on-campus gem, where you can take a peaceful walk through the butterfly garden, sit back and relax, or bring your children to teach them about plants. March through November, dawn to midnight, this beautiful space is open to the public.
  • Linear Park Trail: A number of trailheads pass through an engaging combination of urban and country scenery. Take a muddy, rocky uphill climb or for a less challenging outing, bike completely around Manhattan.
  • parks-free family entertainment copyBlue Earth Plaza: Next to the Flint Hills Discovery Center, this one-acre park with an outdoor fireplace and water features is an ideal spot to relax and enjoy fresh air in downtown Manhattan. 
  • Historic Downtown: Relish the history and charm of Manhattan by strolling the streets of the historic downtown district.
  • Arts in the Park (seasonal): BYOLC (bring your own lawn chair) and kick back in The Little Apples City Park. Performers from around the country spend summer evenings performing at this free concert series. 
  • Pillsbury Crossing: Fishing, hiking and canoeing are just a few of the ways to enjoy the 59-acre wildlife area and hub for hanging out. A low-water river crossing used by pioneers in the 1850s, Pillsbury Crossing sports a 50-foot wide and four-foot tall waterfall — and you can pull your car right onto hundreds of feet of water just a few inches deep!
  • Riley County Historical Museum: Changing exhibits showcase manuscripts, letters, photographs, diaries and other records of abolitionists’ establishment of Manhattan. The adjacent Hartford House is a restored, prefabricated cabin brought to Manhattan by early settlers in 1855 on the Hartford steamboat.
  • Konza Prairie: An 8,800-acre research park operated by the Division of Biology at K-State, the Konza Prairie Biological Station and its public trails (see photo, above) are a great place to explore.

For more ideas, visit the Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Teresa J. Shaw is the Content Director and also writes about Southeast Michigan for Traveling Mom. Visit her blog and follow her on Twitter at @TeresaShaw.