Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette: 


Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas


When my birthday rolls around each April, I usually celebrate by making a pilgrimage to Lawrence. Because I lived in Lawrence for several years, that town feels like a second home.

Massachusetts Street is a big attraction, of course, and Dave and I will stop for lunch, which more than likely means Indian, Thai or Mediterranean food.

But this year for my birthday, I wanted to tour the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan which had just opened. (The FHDC was the topic of last week’s column.)

Even though we’re only about 75 miles away, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in Manhattan, so it’s basically new ground for me, ripe for exploration. Dave, on the other hand, feels more at home there than in Lawrence. He studied at K-State for awhile.

There are a number of ways to get to Manhattan. On the way up, we drove K-99 through Eskridge, Alma and Wamego. That route offers the Wabaunsee County experience of the Flint Hills.

K-177 through Strong City and Council Grove provides different scenery. We took this route back home.

Manhattan is a well-kept town with a vibrant energy. My only complaint is that there’s too much purple. But, I guess that’s just the way of things – and I’m learning to deal with it.

On this recent trip to Manhattan, Dave and I stopped in at the Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery at 406 ½ Poyntz. Owners Jay and Barbara Nelson are gracious hosts. Their upstairs gallery is gorgeous; it’s always filled with striking art work and, since it’s on the second floor, natural light floods in through the high arched windows.

Ceramics by Marko Fields.

The main exhibit at the Strecker-Nelson until June 9 is a traveling show called “2012: Faith, Magic, Love and Death, Cautionary Tales of the End Times.” I especially enjoyed the ceramic pieces by Marco Fields who grew up in Wichita, and the oil paintings by Barbara Waterman-Peters of Topeka.

An interesting thing about Manhattan is that the mall, the Manhattan Town Center, holds down one end of the town’s main street. Poyntz Avenue connects the mall with the regular main street businesses as well as the gorgeous limestone Riley County Courthouse. Just a few blocks to the south of Poyntz Ave. is the Flint Hills Discovery Center with its park, the Blue Earth Plaza, and the adjacent new hotel and convention center.

I like that Manhattan has two business districts. The second, Aggieville, offers a college-aged energy with numerous restaurants and taverns, clothing and book stores.

After visiting the Strecker-Nelson Gallery, Dave and I split a chicken pesto pizza at the Bluestem Bistro, a café and coffee shop in Aggieville. For dessert, I had a chocolate espresso cupcake. The food was good and if I lived in Manhattan this would be definitely be one of my hangouts.

After our lunch in Aggieville, we were ready for a hike on the Konza Prairie. To drive to the trailhead we got on K-177 as if we were leaving town. Immediately after crossing the Kansas River, we turned south on McDowell Creek Road. The trailhead is a few miles down the road, maybe four or five miles.

Depending on a person’s enthusiasm for hiking, there are several trails to choose from. The Nature Trail is 2.5 miles, King’s Creek Loop is 4.4 miles and the Godwin Hill Loop is 6 miles long.

The nature trail is relatively level and Dave and I poked along on that, taking photos. It winds its way through a woodland area and along a stream. With the grass and trees so rich and full this time of year, it was a beautiful walk. Dave said he’s taken one of the steeper trails on his photography excursions, so there’s a variety of slope and sunshine and shade along these trails.

When it comes to hiking in the Flint Hills, there aren’t all that many public access points, so the Konza Prairie is an excellent location for us to enjoy the tallgrass prairie.

With the Flint Hills Discovery Center now open and everything else that Manhattan has going on, there’s a lively energy here and it’s a fun place to visit. And if you’re fond of that particular shade of purple, then there’s no reason at all not to head north and explore Manhattan for yourself.

Copyright 2012 ~ Cheryl Unruh


  1. I felt this column had a fresh feel and style, Cheryl. Maybe it is being in a new under-explored place. Good column.

  2. Thanks Cheryl– for taking me “home” for a visit– lived in Manhattan while going to school there– & then again later — love that town– have not been there in several years– each trip back to Kansas we have toooo many things we HAVE to do–/ to get to do many things we would like to do!!!!

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