Find Beauty, History and Fun in the Flint Hills

This post is sponsored by Kansas Tourism. Opinions belong to the writer.

Are you looking for a quick trip away with your family that’s jam-packed with beauty, history and fun? Then hop in the car and head west for just about an hour and a half to begin your exploration of the gorgeous Flint Hills!

Recently my daughters and I took a girls trip to the Flint Hills and at the end of the weekend my tweenager actually said to me, “Mom, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this road trip, but I had a total blast!” Success!

What to Do in the Flint Hills

The Oz Museum in Wamego, KS

The girls and I started off our trip with a stop in Wamego to visit the Oz Museum. For the young and young at heart, this museum is the perfect stop for every lover of “The Wizard of Oz.” This museum boasts over 2,000 artifacts and fun replicas of the characters and scenes from the movie. Do you have a kiddo that may be a little frightened of the Haunted Forest like my little one was? The staff is happy to turn on the lights so your child can see that there’s nothing to be frightened of. After a stop in the adorable gift shop, we followed the Yellow Brick Road outside and explored some of the 15 hand-painted, artisan Totos that fill the sidewalks of Wamego.

After Wamego, we took a short jaunt to Manhattan to explore. Our first stop was to the K-State Gardens. After walking through the gorgeous grounds housing beautiful flowers and plants we entered the Insect Zoo located on the property. This was so fun! Upon entering we were handed small flashlights that we could use to peer into the tanks of countless insects. From the cool to the downright scary (black widow) we saw them all! We were even lucky to witness the feeding time of some leafcutter ants which was fascinating. I loved that almost all of the tanks were accessible so even my little one could see without needing to be picked up. This stop was definitely a hit!

Later in the afternoon, we checked out the Flint Hills Discovery Center. Immerse yourself in the history and facts of the Flint Hills. This unique tallgrass prairie ecosystem holds immense history. Learn all about what makes this land so special and why it’s so important to preserve it. Don’t miss out on the newly renovated kids area; Prairie Playscape and their temporary exhibit, Big League Fun, a STEM-focused look at baseball.

Become a Junior Park Ranger at the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve in the beautiful Flint Hills.

A trip to the Flint Hills would be lost without a stop at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. This national park is located just about an hour south of Manhattan and the drive to get to it is absolutely gorgeous. Visit the farmhouse and barn located on the Tallgrass Prairie to learn the history of the land and of the family that once cared for it. My girls got a kick out of how refrigeration of food happened “in the old days” and that the family had to go to a building outside just to use the restroom. Their minds were blown. Even my youngest couldn’t stop saying how pretty the land was and they had a blast in the barn jumping on a saddle and working on their calf roping skills. While there they also took part in the Junior Park Ranger activities and earned a stamp on their passport.

Where to Stay in the Flint Hills

The Grand Central Hotel & Grill in Cottonwood Falls, KS.

After we explored Wamego and Manhattan we made our way south and stayed at the Grand Central Hotel on the main street of Cottonwood Falls. Built in 1884, this historic building is a cozy place to rest that is full of western flair and had all three of us feeling like true cowgirls.

Where to Eat in the Flint Hills

Our trip was full of delicious food. While in Manhattan we took the recommendation from a friend and ate lunch at Rock-a-Belly Deli. This small deli and bar had a wonderful atmosphere and tasty sandwiches that earned thumbs up from us all.

Varsity Donuts in Manhattan, KS.

Just a few doors down we stopped for sweet treats to enjoy the next morning from Varsity Donuts. Their display case was full of tasty donuts, but my girls couldn’t resist picking the K-Stater – a purple iced doughnut dipped in purple sprinkles.

While we had our breakfast for the next morning we didn’t miss out on a sweet treat from the Call Hall Dairy Bar. This “farm to spoon” shop sits on K-State’s campus and all aspects of the creation of the products sold in the dairy bar happen within a 2-mile radius of the shop.

While in Cottonwood Falls don’t miss out on one of the best steaks you’ll ever have at the Grand Central Hotel & Grill. My daughters both tried steak for the first time there and loved it.

We had the perfect girls’ trip to the Flint Hills.

My daughters and I all had an absolute blast checking out the Flint Hills on our girls’ weekend and already have plans on returning later this summer with the whole family so we can soak it in again. Pack up the family and check it out!

Born in Kansas City, Jamie spent age 8-18 in Columbia, MO yet always considered KC to be home. Jamie returned to KC after high school to attend Avila University, where she earned her degree in Communication. After residing in South KC, Raymore, the Plaza, River Market and Overland Park, Jamie is now a proud (and permanent) resident of Lenexa. Jamie is wife to her love, Andy, and mom to the dream team; Lucy (12), Quinn (10) and Hazel (6). Jamie is the Events Director for Kansas City Mom Collective and loves creating fun and exciting ways to gather as a community, especially if a theme is involved! Jamie loves a good coffee shop, is a self-diagnosed Fall-aholic, is a Peloton newbie, is a proud member of “The Read That Society” (a book club full of close friends that just celebrated its 13th anniversary), is an internet-ordained minister, she loves blasting Paul McCartney out of the minivan windows and is a sucker for a good home decor store.