Known for its purple pride, wide-open spaces and okay, maybe an occasional whiff of cow, there is something about the small-town charm of my alma matter that just can't be replicated in big city living.
I realize much of my fondness for the Little Apple hinges on the quality relationships I built while experiencing life as a college student and not particularly on the settings in which this chapter of life occurred. But something about this springtime weather has me itching to drive west and hit all my favorite hot spots, including (but not limited to) the following:
*Note: This is by no means an all-inclusive list of why I think Manhattan is fabulous. I don't even mention the Derb, Kenny Ford Hall, anywhere near John Schwartz, Call Hall, So Long Saloon, etc. etc. etc.
...in no particular order...
1. Bob's 24-Hour Diner. Now, you may be thinking, "Really? A 24-hour truck stop? That sounds more than sketch." And, to be completely honest, it is. But the Bob's Diner experience at 12 a.m. is guaranteed to give you something to talk about for months. And before you know it, this rite of passage may just worm its way into your heart and keep you coming back for more than just heartburn. Quirky? Yes. Shady? Probably. Worth it? Definitely.
2. Top of the World. Okay, so it sounds like a cheesy make-out point... and maybe it is (but aren't all scenic overlooks? I mean, really...). At any rate, if you're looking for an excellent storm-spotting location in Manhattan, Top of the World is the place to be. In fact, I think it's one of Manhattan's best-kept secrets. You can quote me on that.
3. The Blue House. This ultimate bachelor's pad is hands-down one of my absolute favorite places in Manhattan. Sure, a hideous Native American carpet adorns the wall (it kind of grows on you, I swear) and yeah, you are taking quite a social risk by using the bathroom that notoriously locks unsuspecting users inside, but there is always something going on at The Blue House...and if not, just camp out in the living room and watch Seinfeld. Just don't move the hot pink stapler.
4. Java. [cue the Cheers theme song] Ross and Rachel had Central Perk. George and Elaine had Tom's Restaurant. And for much of my college experience, my friends and I had Java. Over coffee (okay, lattes with lots of Splenda) and gooey cinnamon rolls, we allowed each other to peek into our crazy, mixed-up lives. And somehow, by the time that coffee cup ran dry, the world seemed a little brighter.
5. Here and there and everywhere. Next to coffee talks, my favorite memories of Manhattan consist of the various power-walking adventures I had while exploring the streets of the Little Apple. It is how I learned the city, but more importantly, how I formed some of my strongest friendships. My travels took me from Manhattan Hill to University Gardens, from City Park to Old Stadium and countless Dara's stops along the way. I wore out more than one pair of shoes on the sleepy streets of Manhattan, and I am more than okay with that.So, if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Manhattan for any period of time, please enjoy one (or all) of these for me.
If you doubt that Manhattan, KS can provide anything close to entertainment, I will prove you wrong with a guided tour...as soon as I finish planning a hometown showcase of Topeka. But that's another story.
--And yes, I am one of those people that still calls it Java instead of Bluestem Bistro...and probably always will.
p.s. If you'd like to give a shout out to your favorite Manhattan location that didn't make my list, feel free.