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May 10

We've got your bright, cheery side covered with low-budget alternatives

Posted on May 10, 2018 at 1:19 PM by Michael Goens

More bright, breezy and colorful days lie in wait as the Gateway to the Flint Hills blazes into a cycle of rebirth. Another balmy spring sets the tone for lilting prairie life activities here in the land of Manhappiness. Light and breezy. Carefree.

Part of your freedom during travel is being unconstrained about expenses. Your trip should be unburdened. Save the dollars on your debit card for the unbelievable, soul-surrendering food in MHK’s unmatchable restaurant scene.

Blue Earth Plaza water feature
Blue Earth Plaza
One low-priced alternative is outdoor fun at Blue Earth Plaza. The wide-open green space is perfect to turn the children loose, or turn your inner child into a roaming, built-for-action superhero bent on cheery repose. Best part? Blue Earth Plaza sits right in the heart of MHK’s centralized hotel district, part of the amazingly walkable downtown area nearby Manhattan Town Center, AMC Dine-In IMAX and dynamo dining like The Chef, Wine Dive Kitchen, Tallgrass Tap House, Bourbon and Baker and more.

Flint Hills Discovery Center
Blue Earth allows ready access to Flint Hills Discovery Center, and outstanding interactive knowledge of the tallgrass prairie, the last remaining four percent of these prairie grasses on the North American continent. The introductory film features remarkable landscapes and 4-D effects. May 12 marks the opening of a new exhibit, Be The Dinosaur. And the exhibit’s second Saturday coincides with Flint Hills Festival (May 19, Blue Earth Plaza).

General admission to the center ($9; $4 children) allows entry to the exhibits, festival and park.

DSC_0255 State of KS
Konza Prairie
Once you’ve learned all about evolution of the open prairie, make your own earth-driven discovery of the plains at Konza Prairie Biological Station. A free-will donation is requested. Three trails (1.5 miles up to 6 miles) help explorers envision wagon trains carrying settlers westward through these very valleys, following the sun and the meandering path of the Kansas River.

Linear Trail
If prairie hikes don’t exhaust your legs, head out on the Linear Trail for a bike ride or jog. A 9-mile route largely along the Kansas River winds into Manhattan’s west side to Anneberg Park near Scenic Drive.

Pillsbury Creek
Speaking of the outdoors, early settlers crossed a low section of Deep Creek, southeast of Manhattan, at the Pillsbury Creek waterfall area. The falls tumble about four feet and are in great energy during April, May and June. Splash away, splash away, splash away all in innertubes and the water is even suitable for kayaks.

Pillsbury Crossing

Arts in the Park
Embark on the park for more free fun and outdoors activities during summer months. During June and July, musical entertainment delights hundreds of listeners at Arts in the Park, Norvell Band Shell stage. Bring along a lawn chair, though bench seating is plentiful. Shows are free; held at 8 each Friday night.

The Gardens
Kids will love the Tropical Nighthouse at the K-State Insect Zoo. Meantime, mom and dad can stake out The Gardens for breathtaking ornamental plants on the west side of the Kansas State University campus along Denison Avenue. Walk-ins are a $3 charge for the indoor zoo, at the old K-State Dairy Barn building.

Museum motivation
Cool your heels and absorb Midwest-specialized artwork featured at Beach Museum of Art on the KSU campus and Strecker Nelson West Art Gallery on Poyntz Avenue. SNW is the oldest-operating gallery in the state of Kansas, and features Intersection: Meeting of the Creative Minds until the first full week in June. Young Artists Programs approach with June museum tours and art workshops taught by Kansas State and Manhattan High fine arts and art education students. Free admission (Beach accepts donations).


Sunset Zoo
Mother’s and Father’s days are always a special treat with free admission for the celebrated parent with one child’s admission. New maned wolf pups are among the fresh-faced additions at the zoo, which is pushing forth with Expedition Asia campaign to rediscover tigers, sloth bears and leopards. $5 admission ($3 kids).

These adventures should open a whole, new world of discovery on your next Manhattan visit.


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