There’s no shortage of beautiful places to have your family pictures taken in the Manhattan, KS area, but it’s important to take factors such as safety, time of year, time of day, and background distractions into consideration. I certainly have my go to spots depending on the season, but we can make pretty much anything work. Let’s check out some of the best locations for pictures in Manhattan!
Generally speaking, I like to get that “out in the middle of nowhere” feel. That tends to result in the fewest number of distractions both during your session and in your photographs. I like to take you somewhere relatively remote so that we aren’t having to wait for other people on foot, bikes, or cars to pass by. I don’t want any houses, vehicles, signage, utility boxes or wires, or any other eye sores limiting our available backdrops. As much as possible, I want to keep the focus of your images on your family and your genuine connections. That said, we want to find the right balance of simply beautiful backdrops, accessibility, safety, my knowledge of the area, and any special requests you might have. There’s a lot more that goes into picking a location than you might think!
I’ve compiled some of the most popular parks in the Manhattan area, including some that I tend to avoid for family photos, and some of my favorite spots that you might not have heard about. I will gradually be adding separate blog posts to highlight each of the locations that I frequent and you’ll be able to click on the image to find a more detailed description and plenty of pictures!
While I prefer more secluded locations for family sessions so that we aren’t having to deal with other people and a lot of background noise and distractions, parks like CiCo, Anneberg, and City Park were carefully planned with trees and landscaping that can satisfy that desire for colorful seasonal magic. This is my favorite place to bring clients who want to capture the beautiful flowering trees each Spring.
I don’t remember when or how I discovered the Fairmont Boat Ramp, but my kids and I had some great adventures there. We spent hours sifting through the rocks for Indian beads, poking around at random critters, and collecting random treasures. I’ve only taken a handful of families to this location for pictures, but had my own family pictures taken their a few years ago. It’s a pretty neat spot right there on the Kansas River!
Anneberg Park is located on the West side of Manhattan and is best known for it’s walking trail surrounding the park, the large foot bridge, and the beautiful pond that is often sporting a few flocks of geese. The trail is beautiful and a bit too popular most of the year, so I pretty much reserve this location for families with their heart set on fun bridge pictures.
The KSU campus has some phenomenal areas for family pictures. From the beautiful buildings, year round landscaping, K-State Gardens, and the football stadium, you really can’t go wrong. There are some beautiful spots with lots of trees, so you can get that a more natural look, as well. This is my second favorite photo location during the Winter months.
The Konza Prairie Nature Trail is well-known for is sprawling fields of tallgrass and is one of the most incredible places for sunset pictures in the Flint Hills region. Because of the amount of hiking it takes to get to those stunning views and the requirements to stay on the often narrow trails, I do not recommend this location for family pictures, but definitely encourage you to go check it out!
Right on the Blue River and at the head of Linear Trail, Linear Park in Manhattan, KS is a fantastic spot for your family pictures. The rustic bridge makes a great backdrop, but the river, rocks, wooded areas, and open field all work wonderfully. We might end up dodging other people at this spot, but I’ve never seen it get crowded enough to stop the flow of a photo session.
Washington Marlatt Memorial Park has become my very favorite location for photo sessions during the Winter months. It’s fantastic year round, but when the leaves have fallen and everything looks dead and gloomy, the evening light glowing through the tallgrasses is magical. This can be a fairly popular location in the Fall, but there are three large areas (including Top of the World Drive) with beautiful trails, plenty of space to safely run around, and wonderful opportunities to catch the sunset. Next to the Konza Prairie, which I do not recommend for family sessions, Marlatt Park gives the best prairie feel in the Manhattan area.
NE Community Park is located on the east side of Manhattan not far from the intersection of Tuttle Creek Blvd and Casement Rd. The trees along the west side of the park are beautiful in the Fall. This is yet another park where I love to end photo sessions on the playground. Let’s catch those littles in action!
This Scenic Overlook is off of Highway 177 and technically called the Konza Prairie Kansas Valley Lookout Point. This is one of my favorite places to watch the sunset. I do love to take pictures at this overlook point, but it can get pretty cramped, especially when the sky is cooperating. There are only a few options for backdrops, very little shade to work with, and it’s not the safest place for little kids, so I tend to only take my photo clients here on special request.
We have two large sunflower fields in Manhattan, KS. Britt’s Farm to the southwest of town and A&H Farms of S. Manhattan Ave just south of town. I’ve taken clients to crops at Britt’s Farm for several years, but I’ve grown to prefer the wild sunflowers for my photo sessions. And so have my clients! I still love to visit these smiling flowers and take pictures with my kids as well as bring my macro lens along for cool shots of the insects loving on the pollen. It’s definitely worth the visit!
Tuttle Creek Outlet Park is West of the state park off of Tuttle Creek Blvd and free to the public. The road that loops through the park allows easy access to a variety of backdrops, but you can also go down (and sometimes across) the creek to get away from the cars and other people. One of my favorite things about Tuttle Creek Outlet Park is the abundance of shade, which allows me to get beautiful pictures even when the sun is high in the sky. We’ll have plenty of room to roam and I love to end family sessions here on the playground!
This spot is one of my little secrets. I’ve never seen another photographer taking advantage of this beautiful path alongside the southern edge of Tuttle Creek Lake just north of the dam and I’m in love with the stretch of wild sunflowers in late Summer.
Warner Memorial Park is located on the Southwest side of Manhattan. I’ve only held a few photo sessions at this location mostly because I can get the same look and feel at some more easily accessible parks. Perhaps it’s time to venture over there, again. I’m certainly due for a nice, long hike here!
Wildcat Park is one of my favorite Manhattan, KS parks through most of the year. After the leaves have fallen, it’s pretty drab, but it’s the perfect spot for family pictures in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. There are four distinctly different areas of the park that all make incredible backdrops for your pictures and there is lots of room for your kids to safely run around.