Best Places to Live

Manhattan, KS

Population: 55,911

Manhattan, KS may be known as “The Little Apple,” but opportunity is just about as big as people’s hearts around here. Primarily known for being the home of Kansas State University, Manhattan is both a small, friendly town and a big cultural center right in the middle of the Flint Hills, which is the largest stretch of tall-grass prairie in the country. But don’t let the prairie fool you — Manhattan is a bevy of opportunity for those in the military or in education, with 20,000 soldiers routinely training in nearby Fort Riley and professors diligently researching in fields like agriculture and global food systems with plans to be the future home for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, which is currently being constructed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on K-State’s campus. 

Beyond the economy, Manhattan is a charming city with unexpected surprises like a burgeoning food scene and lots of outdoor opportunities for those who like to get out in the fresh air (which Manhattan is known for). 

Top Industries and Employers: Education and military are the biggest industries, with Kansas State University and nearby Fort Riley as the top employers

Best Coffee Shop: Radina’s Coffeehouse & Roastery serves up some seriously delicious coffee and has a big commitment to working with other local and regional-owned businesses 

Best Local Beer/Brewery: Tallgrass Tap House, which was named “Best Beer Bar in Kansas” for two years running in 2016 and 2017 has some tasty brewskies and a patio that overlooks downtown and the stunning Flint Hills.  

Must-Have Meal: The Big Boy Chicken & Waffles from Bourbon & Baker: a cinnamon-nutmeg waffle, fried chicken and maple pecan butter. (Try not to drool on the screen, please.)

Best Co-Working Space: The Fellow is the perfect place for entrepreneurs looking to get their feet off the ground in the Little Apple. 

Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): Wine Dive + Kitchen is a cozy spot to experiment and find your favorite vino. The staff particularly loves to focus on providing artisanal and wines of distinction to their discerning customers. 

Creative Hub: The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is an art museum on the Kansas State University campus that showcases regional artwork.  

Favorite Weekend Activity: When visiting the Liquid Art Winery, you may not be able to remember if you’re in the middle of Kansas or if you’ve accidentally transported yourself to Tuscany. This estate has a tasting room and some big, insta-worthy views. 

Free Way to Have Fun: Part learning lab, part perfect spot for a first date, the Gardens at Kansas State University is a student-run, 19-acre horticultural display garden that is fun to both admire and frolic through. 

Local Dream Job: A professor of agriculture who teaches classes for the Park Management and Conservation degree. 

Read More:
Why Manhattan, KS is a Best Place to Live
8 Reasons to Move to Manhattan, KS 
Best Places to Live in Kansas

- Jamie Birdwell-Branson

"Manhattan truly has something for everyone. We cater to young families, college students, Ft. Riley families and soldiers and the retirement community. We take pride in our diverse population and seek quality of life initiatives that provide experiences for everyone."

Gina Scroggs
Executive Director, Downtown Manhattan

Manhattan, KS Ranking Data