Discover what it feels like to travel on a train pulled by a steam engine, to dine on pan-fried succulent chicken and to enjoy live, professional theatre right in the middle of Kansas when you visit Abilene, just 20 minutes west of Fort Riley. History, shopping, art, dining, sporting events and festivals thrive in this friendly town that raised a president.
Experience Abilene’s early days by watching gunfights and can-can dancers in Old Abilene Town before boarding the historic train. At the nearby Heritage Center, climb on a hand-carved wooden horse on a 1901 carousel, pretend you’re a telephone switchboard operator and pet the buffalo head. Ride a horse-drawn carriage, tour a historic mansion and stop at the Jeffcoat Photography Museum to view early-day camera equipment. Then, play interactive games, rediscover the 1950s and learn about Ike at the Eisenhower Presidential Library Museum and Boyhood Home. Find the perfect handmade gift at quaint shops downtown, such as jewelry at Treasures by Tracine and Aksent Jewelry Boutique, triple-scented candles at Cypress Bridge or a hand-crafted decorative item at Mayme’s Boutique.
Or, get the essentials to make your own special gift by picking up hand-dyed cross-stitch fabric at Picture This Plus, specialty yarns at the Shivering Sheep or quilt fabric at Material Girls. Love antiquing? We’ve got nine shops.
Experience the arts by browsing the Burning Tree and Bow Studio and Gallery or watch live, professional theater at the Great Plains Theatre from March through November. The Arts Council displays the work of local and regional artists and sponsors a film series, concerts and photography exhibits and contests. Taste fresh strawberry pie at Mr. K’s Farmhouse and read the signatures on the birthday paddles that date back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, crispy fried chicken at the Brookville Hotel, gooey cinnamon rolls at the Hitchin’ Post Restaurant and culinary offerings from Joe Snuffy’s, 311 restaurant, Ike’s Place and Amanda’s Bakery and Bistro, and the Cow Town Corral steakhouse. Pet the greyhounds at the Greyhound Hall of Fame or watch the fastest dogs in the world race during the National Greyhound Association’s spring and fall meets. Cheer for the bull riders at the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo and see combines crash at the farmer’s version of the demolition derby during the Central Kansas Free Fair. Dive into the new swimming pool and, if you’re brave, try the slide.
Come back time and time again for the Aviation Fly In, Chisholm Trail Celebration, Mid-Summers Night Children’s Festival, Flour Power Family Fun Fest, Old-Fashioned Fourth of July and National Day of the Cowboy celebrations, Oktoberfest and numerous other special events.
At day’s end, enjoy the peace and quiet on the front porch swing or in front of a cozy fireplace at a bed and breakfast. Or, make Abilene your home and enjoy the small-town atmosphere every day. Your children can safely play in the City Park, attend A-plus schools, and participate in scouting, 4-H and FFA. It’s a great place to live; after all, it’s the town that raised a president.
Other Abilene Attractions
Greyhound Hall of Fame — The greyhound museum is devoted to greyhound breeding, racing and the history of the sport. The museum, at 407 S. Buckeye Ave. in Abilene, is free and open seven days a week.
Seelye Mansion — The Seelye Mansion at 1105 N. Buckeye Ave. was built in 1905 for Dr. A.B. Seelye who made his fortune in patent medicine with the A.B. Seelye Medical Company. The Patent Medicine Museum occupies a former Seelye laboratory at the rear of the mansion. Many of the furnishings and glassware were purchased at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Call 785-263-1084 for more information.
Russell Stover Candies Factory Outlet — The factory and store are off I-70 at exit 270 on the west side of Abilene. Workers can be watched through windows as they prepare candy in the kitchen.
Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home — “I come from the very heart of America,” said Dwight D. Eisenhower in his Guildhall Speech in London on June 12, 1945. Come learn about the five-star general and 34th president of the United States — Dwight David Eisenhower. Five distinct buildings at 200 SE Fourth St. make up the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum housed on 22 acres. Included are the Boyhood Home, museum featuring five galleries, research library, Visitors Center with gift shop and introduction film, and the Place of Meditation — the President’s final resting place.
Open 362 days of the year — closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Parking is free. Spaces are available for tour buses and recreational vehicles. A small fee is charged for the museum only. Show your military ID card, active-duty personnel receive free admission. Family members receive discounted admission with military ID card. Call 785-263-6700 or 877-RING-IKE, or visit www.eisenhower.archives.gov for more information.
For more information about Abilene, visit www.abilenecityhall.com or call785-263-2231.
Council Grove/Morris County
Please consider this a personal invitation to visit Council Grove in the heart of the beautiful Kansas Flint Hills. It’s a short 37-mile drive through “the hills” to a community dearly loved by Gen. George Custer — who camped there with elements of the 7th Cavalry Regiment as they patrolled and secured the Santa Fe Trail in the mid-1860s. Gen. Custer enjoyed this beautiful area so much that he purchased 120 acres of pristine prairie land on which to build his retirement home. The events at the Little Big Horn a short time later, however, forever altered Custer’s plans — but the remains of a large elm tree and cozy park mark the area where Custer and the 7th CAV camped and the general planned to spend the remainder of his natural life.
In addition to Custer Elm, one can spend a leisurely day wandering among the 24 nationally recognized historic sites in this history-rich small community. Eating is a “sport” enjoyed by many in Council Grove — the small community of less than 2,300 people boasts 12 family restaurants of which only four are national chain outlets. Anchored by the world famous Hays House Restaurant and Tavern — the “oldest, continuously operated restaurant west of the Mississippi River” and complemented by a nice variety of local eateries featuring fare from the 1800s to “cowboy,” contemporary and Mexican — one can find about any kind of palate-tempting food in this early, well-preserved, pioneer community.
If water sports fit your fancy, you may enjoy your pick of water-borne activities at one of the two lakes in this community — the Council Grove Federal Reservoir and/or the Council Grove City Lake — the two separated by less than half a mile. If you’re thinking retirement — consider selecting one of the beautiful 347 waterfront homes that surround the city lake. You’ll want to check out the festivals and events that fill the calendars from early spring through the end of the year — including the iconic Washunga Days during the third full weekend of June that attracts members of the Kaw Indian Tribe, Council Grove’s original inhabitants — plus thousands more for a weekend of powwows and other fun activities.
If watching cattle graze on lush blue stem grass, enjoying birding, hiking, water activities and miles of uninterrupted vistas tempts you, consider Council Grove for your next day away from work. Just 17 miles south of Council Grove — along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway — sits the 11,000 acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the only member of the National Park System devoted to the prairie ecosystem.
Herington, Kansas: Where the Rails ... Meet the Trails. Need some wide open spaces, friendly faces and away from the races? Herington. Stop downtown for a soda or a cup of coffee at an original “old fashioned soda fountain.” There is a rich railroad history found throughout the town. It’s a play structure in the park, part of the museum in preserved Rail Cars, on a large painted mural downtown and it is the home to a miniature train that people of all ages love to take a ride on! The Union Pacific railroad is the largest employer and it is a hub for switching trains and train crews. After spending years sitting at the main crossing watching trains go by, waiting for the tracks to clear, now there is an overpass that takes people swiftly up and over the train yard and connects the town.
If you love the tranquility of a country setting, there is a small park with a little lake, a walking path and recreation for the kids, including a skate park, swimming pool, basketball court and play structures. For those in need of a bigger space, there is picnicking, boating, fishing, Jet Skiing, swimming and camping at Lake Herington and the Herington Reservoir. The two lakes are only two miles from town in a beautiful area.
Spend some time roaming around looking at hand-painted murals including one inside the post office, historical monuments, the many historical churches and the Vietnam War Memorial. Grab a book at the Carnegie Public Library and wander down to the Liggett Memorial Park, lounge in the gazebo and enjoy the gardens. When’s the last time you took in a 4-H fair? One of summertime’s highlights is fair time. The surrounding communities come to be a part of the parade, rodeo, demolition derby, merchant and 4-H booths, animal displays, food stands, and the carnival.
Baseball, softball and soccer are popular throughout the season and the updated sports complex brings the teams together. Sports enthusiasts enjoy a challenging disc golf course, private golf course, bowling, an archery club, hunting and fishing.
For airplane travel and fun, the local airport has general aviation, a restaurant, radio-controlled aircrafts, fly-ins as well as an industrial park with several industries. Stay overnight in the newly constructed motel or settle here. Build a house in Logan Pointe, a new housing development, or buy a home in a quiet neighborhood. The community is well established with all the necessary medical facilities including a hospital, emergency services, retirement homes and nursing home care. Two locally owned pharmacies are located there as well. A new elementary school, USD 487, and track facility were constructed in 2011. USD 487, home of the “Railers,” provides quality education for future leaders. A winner of the national “Blue Ribbon” award, the excellent educators create excitement for the students.
Junction City-Geary County
Junction City-Geary County is proud to be known as Fort Riley’s hometown. The area strives to make service members’ stay at Fort Riley enjoyable and successful!
From the beautiful buildings to the unique personalities, from its interstate central location to the expanse of the Flint Hills, from its vast diversity to the presence of the many heroes that have walked the streets, this is a community set apart.
Milford Lake, known as the fishing capital of Kansas, is adjacent to Fort Riley and Junction City.
Besides offering outstanding fishing opportunities, you’ll find plenty of camping sites, off-road recreational areas, sandy swimming beaches, dedicated horse camping area and trails, large group picnic areas, Jet Ski beach and plenty of room to boat. Visit the Milford Nature Center where kids can explore with hands-on activities. There is a variety of live animals, displays and educational programming.
Geary County has the largest KDWP public hunting grounds in the state of Kansas, and was listed by Sports Afield as one of the top 10 public Whitetail Deer hunting locations in the United States. Junction City has been consecutively named by Outdoor Life as one of the best places to live in the United States for anglers and hunters.
Great golf awaits you in Geary County. Rolling Meadows Golf Course is rated by Golf Digest as one of the top courses to play in Kansas. During the hot summer days cool off at the Junction City Municipal Swimming Pool and Spray Park which boasts an Olympic-size pool, water slides and cannons, jumping jets, crown geysers and a spraying palm tree. After a day at the pool, visit the historic Rathert Stadium where the Junction City Generals baseball team plays a full summer schedule. Don’t miss the free concerts at Heritage Park on Friday nights in June and July. Celebrate the 4th of July at Sundown Salute, the largest free multi-day Independence Day celebration in the state of Kansas. Big-name entertainment, children’s shows, carnivals, spectacular parade and fireworks, there is something for everyone. Spin City is a state-of-the-art roller skating rink complete with an indoor movie theatre, party room, video arcade, miniature golf course and 3-on-3 basketball court. If skateboarding is more your style, hone your skills at the Bramlage Skate Park. Finish your day by watching a beautiful Kansas sunset at Homer’s Pond.
Whether you love the scenery of the Flint Hills or recreation at Milford Lake, you’ll have great fun when you discover the outdoors of Geary County.
Take a walking tour in historic downtown Junction City. The native limestone buildings and facades are true workmanship from the turn of the century.
Originally built in 1898, the CL Hoover Opera House is a modern performing arts center. The Opera House stage has seen many local, regional and national performing artists. If you would rather be on the stage, consider joining the Junction City Little Theatre in one of their many performances at the Opera House. Stroll through the Junction City Art Gallery which features rotating exhibits of all genres of visual arts by local, regional and national artists.
Countless Soldiers and their families have passed through the community and gained an appreciation and understanding that western values and hospitality make this a special place!
Consider visiting these attractions:
- Milford Nature Center.
- Milford Lake.
- Geary County Historical Society Museum.
- Spring Valley Heritage Site.
- CL Hoover Opera House.
- Dorothy Bramlage Library.
- Historic Downtown Junction City.
- Rathert Stadium.
- Buffalo Soldier Monument.
- Kansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
- Spin City.
- River Walk Trail.
- Heritage Park.
- Atomic Annie.
- Swimming Pool and Spray Park.
- Bramlage Park.
- Rolling Meadows.
- Homers Pond.
- Antique Shops.
For a complete listing of attractions and relocation information, contact the Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 785-238-2885 or 800-528-2489. For a calendar of events, visit http://junctioncity.org.
Geary County Convention & Visitors Bureau
823 N. Washington St.
Junction City, KS 66441
Called The Little Apple, Manhattan is a growing community. Inspired by the beauty of the Flint Hills, it is a community enriched by the diversity of its people and heritage. The community is proud to be neighbors with Fort Riley and excited your family will be calling the region home. The influence of Fort Riley on Manhattan is evident in the many displays of support and patriotism you see in passing, with special events and activities sponsored for our military friends year-round. Make plans to attend Country Stampede in June, Military Family Night at the Kaw Valley Rodeo in July, special military appreciation events at Kansas State University for the sports enthusiast, and annual events such as the Veterans Day Parade highlighting the service of local veterans and a partnership with Fort Riley.
Manhattan’s continued growth includes a new convention center and hotel that was added to the mix. The ribbon was cut in 2012 on The Flint Hills Discovery Center — all part of the Redevelopment Project. Housing, job opportunities, health care and schools continue to expand to meet the needs of the area.
There is much to discover in and around Manhattan. For more information, stop by and visit 501 Poyntz Ave. in downtown Manhattan, call 785-776-8829 or visit www.visitmanhattanks.org.
Other Manhattan Attractions
Outdoors – City
Sunset Zoo — This Association of Zoos & Aquariums-accredited zoo offers visitors a close look at exotic wildlife from around the world. 2333 Oak St., 785-587-2737, www.sunsetzoo.com
Manhattan Department of Parks and Recreation — 1101 Freemont St., 785-587-2757, http://cityofmhk.com
Flint Hills — Manhattan is located in the northern portion of the Kansas Flint Hills, one of America’s most unique landscapes. The Flint Hills also protect the largest remaining stand of the American Tallgrass Prairie. www.travelks.com/flint-hills
Konza Prairie — Owned by the Nature Conservancy and operated by Kansas State University, this 8,600-acre research station includes several miles of the best hiking trails in Kansas which are open to the public, but closed to pets, from dawn to dusk. Six miles south on McDowell Creek Road, 785-587-0441, http://keep.konza.ksu.edu
Scenic Overlook — Offers visitors a majestic view of the Konza Prairie. Two miles south on state Highway K177.
Pillsbury Crossing — This 59-acre wildlife area invites visitors to hike trails and ford the natural flat rock crossing used by the pioneers. K177 south to Deep Creek Road to Pillsbury Crossing Road, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, search for “Pillsbury.”
Wildwood Outdoor Adventure park — Wildwood is an outdoor zip line facility with seven zip lines and hiking trails. www.wildwoodoutdooradventurepark.com.
Arts and Leisure
Visitors will find a variety of things to suit their taste throughout the year.
Affiliated Foods Midwest Country Stampede — The largest three-day country music festival in the Midwest features the top performing artists in country music. Located at Tuttle Creek Lake in late June, 800-795-8091, 785-539-2222, www.countrystampede.com
AHA! Manhattan — Manhattan’s working art coalition provides information on everything to do with the arts. www.ahamanhattan.com
Arts in the Park — In the summertime, performance art in Manhattan moves to the Larry Norwell Band Shell and City Park Pavilion in City Park. It’s free. 11th Street and Poyntz Avenue 785-587-2757, www.ci.manhattan.ks.us
McCain Auditorium — Performance series features musicians, artists and performers from around the globe. 207 McCain Auditorium, Kansas State University, 785-532-6428, www.k-state.edu/mccain
Manhattan Arts Center —1520 Poyntz Ave. Open noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the galleries also open 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Art galleries are open and free to the public offering a new exhibit every six weeks. Art classes are also offered for children and adults. For more information, call 785-537-4420 or visit www.manhattanarts.org, also fan us on www.facebook.com/ManhattanArts.
Tuttle Creek State Park — Located just minutes north of Manhattan. Full-service camping, primitive camping, horse trails and picnic shelters. There are multiple bike trails, motorcycle trails and a 310-acre off-road vehicle area open for all types of vehicles.
Colbert Hills Golf Course — Rated the No. 1 public course in the state of Kansas by Golf Digest and home to the Kansas State University men’s and women’s golf teams. 785-776-6475, 5200 Colbert Hills Drive, www.colberthills.com
Stagg Hill Golf Club — 785-539-1041, 4441 Fort Riley Blvd., www.stagghillgolfclub.com
Wildcat Creek Golf and Fitness — 785-539-PLAY, www.wildcatcreekfun.com/outdoor-recreation/nine-hole-golf-course
Riley County Historical Museum & Goodnow House — The museum at 2309 Claflin Road offers historic exhibits from pioneer days to the present. Call 785-565-6490 or visit www.rileycountyks.gov/museum or www.kshs.org.
“Small Town, Big Experience” — friends in Wamego believe you will agree when you visit. Wamego is steeped in rich history, featuring several buildings and attractions for you to enjoy. Historical points of interest include the Schonoff Dutch Mill in City Park, Wamego History Museum and Prairie Village, the historic Columbian Theatre, Walter P. Chrysler birthplace, Oregon Trail wagon ruts, Beecher Bible and Rifle Church and Mount Mitchell linked to the Bleeding Kansas history.
“Wine Country Kansas” is centered in and around Wamego. Home to two wineries in downtown with another winery located about 15 miles southeast, Wamego toasts more wineries than anywhere else in Kansas. Park downtown and enjoy free wine samples at both Vin Vivante Winery and Oz Winery. There are dozens of high-quality wines to choose from.
Downtown Wamego is an enjoyable stroll for all, offering unique dining and specialty retail shops along Lincoln Avenue. An array of flowers in planters throughout downtown Wamego line the sidewalks and welcome visitors to enjoy their beauty. Wamego has many opportunities to enjoy activities for all ages, both indoors and outdoors, throughout the year. Wamego’s City Park spans 12 acres with a large playground area with new equipment, miniature train for children, fishing pond, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and many picnic tables and shade trees to choose from with a brown bag meal or take out from a downtown restaurant. Other activities in Wamego include bowling, disc golf, theater productions, biking and hiking, art galleries, tennis, baseball and soccer fields, sky diving, scenic and wildlife photography, horseback riding, canoeing, the bison experience or golf at one of the top rated 18-hole golf courses in the state.
Wamego is home to one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Customs, the OZ Museum. Open year-round, seven days a week, the OZ Museum is home to one of the largest privately owned collections of Oz memorabilia. The OZ Museum celebrates the movie and the history of the story that has touched millions of lives through the simple message: “There’s no place like home.” For more information, visit www.ozmuseum.com or call 866-458-8686.
Home to one of the largest and longest running Fourth of July celebrations, Wamego is a community that likes to have fun. Independence Day is a weeklong celebration in Wamego including a parade, carnival, antique tractor and car shows. The celebration literally explodes on the night of July 4 with one of the state’s largest fireworks displays. During the third weekend in April, Wamego hosts over 100 art and craft vendors in the City Park for the annual Tulip Festival celebrations. Thousands of tulips bloom in the most vibrant colors in flowerbeds, gardens and downtown planters in Wamego. Lincoln Avenue (Main Street) closes the first weekend in October for OZtoberFest, an annual event featuring all things Oz including the Wizard of Oz musical live on stage at the Columbian Theatre, art and craft vendors, live music, an inflatable kids’ activity area, book signings with Oz authors, and activities for the entire family. Wamego celebrates Christmas with a grand array of lights and festivities, kicking off the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Activities include a lighted Christmas parade down Main Street, visits with Santa and a light ceremony at the City Park, which features thousands of beautiful lights and decorations.
For more information or request your free visitor’s packet for Wamego, visit www.visitwamego.com or call 877-292-6346.
Other Central Flint Hills Regional Communitites
Alma Creamery: Dairy store at 309 Missouri Ave. sells Alma cheeses, milk and other Kansas specialty food products.
Kansas Auto Racing Museum: This 21-acre museum complex is at the beginning of the Joe Engle Chapman Historic Trail Walk. The trail walk enables visitors to enjoy a combination nature walk and scenic walk that can extend for over 3.6 miles and includes visits to two historic sites on the National Registry. Located one-half mile south at exit 286 off Interstate 70 in Chapman.
Clay County Historical Museum: Located at 4th Street and Pomeroy in Clay Center. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free.
Historical Society Museum: Located at 300 E. Second St., the Onaga Museum complex exhibits local historical items in its two main museum buildings and on its grounds you will see a Union Pacific caboose, a furnished log cabin, and a one-room schoolhouse. Call 785-889-4620 for more information.
Seneca Pony Express Museum: Located on 4th and Main streets, across from the Pony Express Monument, the museum houses memorabilia from the Pony Express era, including buggies and a blacksmith shop. Call 785-336-2285 for more information.
Indian Pay Station and Museum: Located at 111 E. Mission St., the Indian Pay Station, the oldest building in Pottawatomie County, was built in 1857 by the U.S. government as an Indian Agency where all business between the Pottawatomie and the government took place. Call 785-437-6600 for more information.
Wakefield Museum: Located at 604 Sixth St., Wakefield is a modern museum featuring local artifacts, newspapers, obituaries and family histories. Call 785-461-5516 for more information.
Kansas Landscape Arboretum, Inc.: Near Wakefield, more than 1,000 species of native and exotic woody plants adapted to the Kansas environment are found here. Much of the area is left in native vegetation, and foot trails provide easy access to both prairie and woodland habitats. Tours can be scheduled. Call 785-461-5760 for more information.
Westmoreland’s Historic Hand-dug Well: Located on Highway 99 N. Westmoreland, was constructed in 1914 by men using only picks and shovels. The old city water well is reported to be the second-largest hand-dug well in the world. Call 785-457-3624.
The Stone Church Museum: Located on 6th and State streets. Built by the German Evangelical Association, organized in 1871. An early 1900s-era kitchen is displayed in this building. Free admission, open 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday or by appointment. Call 785-457-0100.
The Rock Creek Valley Historical Society Museum: Located at 507 Burkman St. the museum houses many historical items from the early settlement of this area along with period furnishing in the old stone church and log cabin that make up the museum complex. The museum is free and open 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, or by appointment. Call 785-457-0100 or 785-457-3624.
Lazy Heart D Bison: Located at 17455 Pauling Run Road. Offers hands-on bison artifacts to view such as bones, skulls, wool and robes. A wagon tour is available to see the bison. Call 785-456-9465 for more information.
Kansas State University:
- Regarded as the leader in military-friendly universities.
- Kansas State Research and Extension for family and youth programs.
- Institute for Health and Security of Military Families for research and counseling on impacts of deployment on military families.
Close ties to local communities:
- Military Affairs Committees.
- Flint Hills Regional Council.
- Numerous Soldier and family services.