I’ve likely beat around the bush a number of times that I was really bummed when Jamie called me in June 2014 to tell me that in three months we’d be headed to call Fort Riley home for the next three-ish years. We were completely blindsided for several reasons that left me bitter for months, and it sounds so petty to admit that I truly was devastated.
I can throw myself under the bus for acting like a baby and truly laugh about it now because the joke would be on me soon; It didn’t take me long to fall completely in love with living here. I mean it when I say that we are so (!) happy living in Manhattan and feel extremely fortunate to call this city home during this season of our lives with young children. Jamie isn’t as quick to recommend that soldiers choose to come to Fort Riley simply because the deployment and training schedules are often very demanding, but as far as living in Manhattan goes, we’re both just smitten. It’s a hidden gem if we’ve ever seen one!
It took me all of 10 seconds to come up with a list of 10 reasons why we love living in Manhattan (“the little apple”) specifically. Many, many, many people would agree with me that Kansas really isn’t so bad. 🙂
Kansas State University
Manhattan is home to Kansas State University, which comes along with everything that’s fun about having a big university in your town: a cool strip of restaurants and bars, local coffee shops, a great football program and athletics in general, and so much more. It’s very uniting to see everyone in purple all the time! I also know a bunch of Army spouses who have taken advantage of being stationed near this big university and gone back to school for another degree!
It’s very friendly for walking and biking.
The city even has these new bright green bikes all over town that people can pick up and ride around for free.
There are a handful of very well-kept playgrounds, pavilions, and parks all over town.
We bop around to them often, and because it’s a smallish city population-wise, we almost always see a friend or two at the park.
Manhattan Parks and Rec offers three incredible public pools.
We’ve been to all three, and they’re each outstanding for the whole family. The main one at the center of town is akin to a tiny water park. The prices are so affordable as well. We’re personally big fans of the $2 swims in the evenings.
The list of awesome local restaurants (and a winery!) goes on and on.
Liquid Art Winery, Bourbon and Baker, Harry’s, Taco Lucha, Little Apple Brewing Company, Coco Bolo’s, Varsity… I could list many that are crowd-pleasers every single time.
There are so many great places to take kids.
There’s two free splash park areas, a newly renovated children’s library section, the Discovery Center (so amazing), a gymnastics place with open gym, and much more. We even have an excellent zoo! So incredible.
There are several fantastic, breathtaking places to hike and run.
Think the Linear Trail (a 17 mile loop around the city), Marlatt Park, and my personal favorite – Konza Prairie. Just wow.
There is no shortage of festivals, rodeos, road races, and so much more to do throughout the entire year.
All I have to do is go on Facebook and look up what local events are going on, and I will 100% find a long list of mostly free community happenings. It’s incredible and makes me want to plant roots in a city that also offers good, clean family fun constantly throughout the year.
The sunsets are the most beautiful I have ever (ever ever ever) seen.
The sky is painted all shades of orange, purple, and pink usually 4-5 nights a week. My sister once read that Manhattan is actually one of the top 10 places in the entire country to see a beautiful sunset. I absolutely believe it.
It’s generally a very safe place to live.
I rarely ever hear sirens or hear/read about anything too bad happening. Very little crime, accidents, etc.
- Country Stampede (a huge country musical festival in June that we’ve sadly never been in town to attend)
- Tuttle Creek State Park (think a “beach”, camping, frisbee golf, and much more)
- Farm animals – horses and cattle are everywhere, which fills my animal-loving oldest daughter up the brim with excitement every time we’re in the car
Manhattan, Kansas is located about eight miles north of I-70, so if you’re driving across Kansas, exit and head on up for a bite to eat and a great place to take a break from the road. You won’t regret it!
- What duty station or city surprised you in a good way?
- Have you ever been to Fort Riley/Manhattan? What did you think?