Best Places to Live

Manhattan, KS

Population: 55,769
Photo Courtesy of Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau

Why It’s a Great Place to Go to College: Manhattan is home to Kansas State University, which has elite academics, great sports teams and a friendly Midwestern vibe. Founded in 1863, K-State serves more than 22,000 students in more than 250 majors and 165 graduate programs. K-State is also moving the needle when it comes to academic and hands-on impact: In addition to generating $218.3 million in research dollars in 2018, the school is also home to a new $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense facility, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security biocontainment laboratory where researchers will study diseases.

“The atmosphere here is so inviting and we all treat each other like family. I know that no matter where I go on campus, there is always someone willing to help me out whether they know me or not,” says Grace Siebert, a K-State junior studying kinesiology and business management.

Why You Should Put Down Roots Here (Even After Graduation): With roughly 55,000 residents, Manhattan is big enough, but not too big (its nickname is “The Little Apple,” thanks to sharing a name with the other Manhattan). This affordable city — which made Livability's list of 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live — has plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities and lots of jobs at Fort Riley Military Base and the university.

Coolest Campus Tradition: The Wabash Cannonball, a fun song and dance tradition at sporting events that started in 1968 after a fire destroyed nearly all of the marching band’s sheet music (except for the music for “Wabash Cannonball”).

Best Place to Get Out and About: The hiking trails at Konza Prairie, a native tallgrass prairie that serves as a field research station for the university.

Best Fourth Meal: The food truck for Varsity Donuts, which serves up a mac-and-cheese grilled cheese sandwich. OK, now we’re drooling.

Place to Be on a Saturday Night: Aggieville, an entertainment and shopping district with plenty of bars. 

Beloved Brewery: Tallgrass Tap House or Little Apple Brewing Company.

Best Bookstore (for non-textbooks): The Dusty Bookshelf, which suffered a devastating fire in 2017 but has rebounded with community support.

Favorite Coffee Shop Study Spot: Arrow Coffee Co.

Local Dream Job: Coordinator of the K-State Insect Zoo, an intimate and informative spot where visitors can learn about creepy crawlies.

What Keeps Alumni Coming Back: One of K-State’s core values is family. That feeling extends beyond graduation for all Wildcats.

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