Day Trips

by Alyssa Reeves
Written for STATEments Magazine, Spring 2008 

A Change of Scenery

Your guide to getting out of Manhattan

Written by Alyssa Reeves

    You know what they say: familiarity breeds contempt. Sure, Manhattan has a plethora of exciting activities to offer its college community, but for students going on their third, fourth or even fifth year at Kansas State University, the lights of Aggieville and the glimmer of Tuttle Creek Lake begin to lose their luster.
    With the spring semester underway, it’s time to plan a weekend getaway. Here’s your guide to nearby destinations definitely worth the trip.

Dinner and a show
    Just 15 miles east of Manhattan, the city of Wamego is home to: one of the largest privately owned collections of “The Wizard of Oz” memorabilia in the world, the state’s only working stone windmill and the Columbian Theatre, Museum & Art Center. The Columbian Theatre isn’t just a building for the arts; it’s a piece of history.
    The theatre dates back to 1893 when a Wamego banker brought paintings and artifacts from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to adorn his music hall. The site in Wamego was a popular community venue and began showing silent films in 1912. By 1950, it closed for 40 years. Thanks to a $2.5 million renovation in 1994, the Columbian Theatre has been restored to its former elegancy.
Allison Anderson, Wichita senior has first hand experience with the theatre. For four years, she performed and helped choreograph shows including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Oklahoma.” “It usually draws an older crowd, but it would be nice for a formal date, Anderson says. “It is a very beautiful theatre.”
    The Columbian Theatre sits at 521 Lincoln Avenue. Adult ticket prices are $20 for the show, and $37.25 for the show and dinner. “Dinner is good, but completely optional. College students who are on a budget by no means should feel obligated to buy it,” says Anderson. Its ideal location and historical charm make the Columbian Theatre a perfect destination for an evening away from the Little Apple.

Escape to the capital city
    Desiring a day trip? An hour’s drive east of Manhattan is Topeka, where you can spend the afternoon climbing 296 steps to the top of the Capitol Dome or traveling back in time at the Kansas Museum of History. Melissa DeDonder, the communications coordinator for Visit Topeka Inc., recommends planning time to check out a little of everything Topeka has to offer. “The possibilities are endless as far as things to see and do,” says DeDonder.
    The Kansas Museum of History is great for any student on a budget. With a student ID, admission is only $3. Kansas residents get in for $2. The museum houses artifacts from a full-sized tipi to an 1880 locomotive. Admission to the museum allows visitors to access the Discovery Place and the Nature Trail at no additional cost.
    Ever wonder what the inside of the Capitol Dome looks like? Free 40-minute tours offer visitors a look at the elaborate architecture of the dome and a birds-eye view of the city from an outer balcony. While you’re at the Capitol, admire some of regionalist painter John Steuart Curry’s controversial murals including his interpretation of John Brown and the anti-slavery movement in Kansas territory before the Civil War.
    If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth before heading back to K-State, stop by Hazel Hill Chocolate Traditions on South Topeka Avenue. The storefront displays some of Hazel Hill’s specialties: handmade chocolate truffles, homemade fudge and hand-dipped caramel apples guaranteed to please any chocolate lover.

Burning the midnight hours
    If you’re ready to say farewell to the So Long Saloon and you’ve already given Rusty his last chance, plan to spend the weekend away from Aggieville. Lawrence is known for its ability to come alive after the sun goes down, making it the perfect place for late-night entertainment.
    Walking into Abe & Jake’s Landing on East 6th Street, you’d never guess it started out as the Consolidated Barbed Wire Company. A picture of Abe Burns and Jake Washington, two local fishermen after whom the building was named, hangs in the entryway, but elegant wooden flooring, plenty of seating, bar areas and conference rooms now occupy the space where 300 men once worked.
    Many popular musicians performed at Abe & Jakes on their way to stardom: John Mayer, Blues Traveler and Vanilla Ice. This bar lands a spot among the sophisticated entertainment venues in the area, promising an unforgettable experience every time.
    Two other night clubs worth your time are the Bottleneck and the Granada. The Bottleneck’s popular performances have included Jewel, Goo Goo Dolls, Ben Folds Five, 311, the Offspring and Edwin McCain. The Granada also stands out as an excellent entertainment spot. What started out as a vaudeville theater in the 1920s, now serves as a nightclub hosting live shows of local, regional and national artists.

Adventures in the great outdoors
    After spending the winter months indoors, Milford Lake is the ideal place to get reacquainted with nature. The Milford Nature Center, which is located beneath Milford Dam, is a great starting point. Visitors have access to nature trails, live animal exhibits, a backyard habitat area, and the state’s only warm-water intensive-culture fish hatchery.
    For students looking to spend a weekend roughing it, try camping, swimming, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking or boating at Milford State Park. Milford State Park sits on the east edge of Milford Lake five miles north of Junction City on Highway K-57. The lake has been called “Lake of Blue Water” as it is considered to be one of the most scenic lakes in Kansas. As cabin fever begins to set in consider getting out enjoying a night of stargazing, trying your aim in the public hunting areas, or casting a line at Milford State Park.



Where to go and how to get there.


The Oz Museum – 511 Lincoln, Wamego - 1-866-458-TOTO –

Stone Windmill – Located on Schonhoff farm, 12 miles north of Wamego


Kansas State Capitol – 300 W. 10th, Topeka - (785) 296-3966 –

Kansas Museum of History – 6425 SW 6th Ave., Topeka – (785) 272-8681 –

Hazel Hill Chocolates – 724 S. Kansas, Topeka – (785) 215-8883


Abe & Jakes – 8 East 6th Street – (785) 841-5855 –

The Bottleneck – 737 New Hampshire – (785) 841-5483 –

The Granada – 1020 Massachusetts St. – (785) 842-1390 –


Milford Nature Center – 3115 Hatchery Dr., Junction City – (785) 238-5323 -

Milford State Park - 8811 State Park Rd., Milford - (785) 238-3014 -