OPINION: Staycation ideas for summer students

(Left to right) Rachel Nyhart, senior in anthropology and English, Jamie Teixeira, senior in English, and Brandon Bienhoff, senior in construction science and management, row out on Tuttle Creek Lake during the canoeing bucket-list on July 9, 2015. (George Walker | The Collegian)

School is over, freedom has come, but for whatever reason — class, work, just living here — you find yourself… still in Manhattan. As you watch your friends head off to relax and explore faraway locales, don’t let FOMO take hold. You can still have plenty of summer adventures around Manhattan, all on a student budget.

The great outdoors

Wanting to take advantage of the summer weather and feed your inner adventurer? Then try out these trips to the nature that’s already right next door. They’re classics for a reason.

1. Tuttle Creek Lake offers probably the most variety of outdoor options in the Manhattan area, and now that the water level is receding and rains have lessened, you can camp or even just picnic at one of their over 700 campsites with varying amenities. (Some require reservations, and some do not.) There are also trails for walking, biking and horseback riding, along with options for swimming, fishing, disc golf and much more.

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The Konza natural prarie is a sight that all Kansas State Students should expience during their time at this University. The Konza is North America's largest virgin praire and students can experience its bounty through three trails that loop through part of the Konza.

2. Lynsey Akin, senior in English literature and Spanish, suggests taking a hike on the Konza Prairie.

“it has like three different trails to go on depending on how hard you want to work,” Akin said.

Start out slow with the 2.6 mile trail, or jump in feet first with the 6.1 mile option. Just be sure to come prepared with sunscreen, bug spray, and enough water to last you all the way to the end.

3. Even though it’s technically inside, the Flint Hills Discovery Center is nature-related, so we’re counting it as outdoors. The Discovery Center includes interactive exhibits about the history of the Flint Hills and the flora and fauna found there. They also offer Tallgrass Tour Bus day trips to locations around Manhattan and a number of other temporary exhibits.

For the foodies

Wanting to explore more of the culinary side of Manhattan? Then consider taking a tour of the local options for your favorite foods. Here a couple of options below, but this could be replicated with just about any type of type of dish.

1. From Varsity Donuts to Call Hall to cookie bakes, Manhattan is home to a plethora of delicious desserts, especially ice cream. Gather some friends and take advantage of this excuse to treat yourself. However, this is probably something that you would want to spread out over several days/weeks. I am in no way advocating sending yourself into a sugar coma.

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Kat Hurd, junior in mass communications, enjoys a cup of tea at the Public Hall in Aggieville. (Kate Torline | Collegian Media Group)

2. If you’re hankering for some caffeine in Manhattan, there’s almost guaranteed to be quality coffee nearby no matter where you are. So embrace your inner barista and set out to answer all of your burning coffee questions. Is there a significant difference from one Radina’s to the next? Are you an Arrow or Sparrow person? Why did those two choose such similar names? However, this is also something that should probably not be done in one day. Caffeine overdose is real, kids.

Manhattan and chill

Really just wanting to relax after the craziness of the schoolyear? Try these fun ways to simply sit back and chill with friends. (Or by yourself. I won’t judge.)

1. Bingewatching has become more than commonplace in 2019, but this really can be a nice way to connect with friends over some great entertainment. And what better way to get a sense of accomplishment from doing nothing but sitting for hours on end? Series such as “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” are classics, but you can put together your own collection of favorites. There’s also something to be said for movies that are so bad they’re good. Or you can throw back with some childhood favorites as you desperately attempt to feel like a kid again. This one has pretty much endless options.

2. Whether you’re one for video games or some classic Clue, a game night is a great way to invite others over to chat, snack and engage in a healthy amount of competition. (If you find yourself contemplating vengeance at any point, it’s probably gone too far.) Have everyone bring their favorite game and try them all out at once, or make it a weekly thing and play a different game each time.

2. Okay, so this is kind of a hybrid chill/see the outdoors option, but fill up a basket with some favorite snacks, grab your comfiest blanket that you’re okay with throwing on the ground and head over to City Park to eat, talk and comment on your fellow park-goers when they’re well out of earshot.

3. Combine outdoor cooking with a sense of catharsis by making a bonfire using last semester’s assignments! Still bitter about the grade you got on that paper? Burn it! And get some s’mores to boot. But make sure that you’re only having a fire in a designated firepit. Hot dogs and catharsis aren’t worth burning down your neighborhood.

No matter what your idea of summer fun, there’s something for you right here in Manhattan. Don’t let summer pass you by. Make this “The summer that…” The summer that you stayed up all night laughing at terrible romcoms. The summer that you finally saw the Konza. And when your friends come back from their trips with their wallets significantly lighter, you can tell them about the fun that you had without dipping into your savings. Maybe they’ll even feel a little FOMO.

Natalie Wolf is a senior in English creative writing and Spanish. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.