Whether a staycation or vacation, you deserve a break!

Summer Staycation

According to research by Project: Time Off, more than 52% of working Americans leave 705 million earned vacation days on the table every single year. This translates into overworked, overwhelmed and overly tired employees trudging into work because they feel they can’t afford a trip, or miss a day on the job, or their work will pile up, or no one else can do their job….the list goes on. We call these poor, confused people “work martyrs.” Don’t be like them.

Research also proves that taking earned time off can greatly improve your mood, health, sleep and work performance. In fact, vacations help reduce stress, decrease depression and improve heart health—all great reasons we should start planning our vacations now. Senior Author Dr. Eric Schadt states, “on a relaxing vacation, you allow your body to get out of that defensive posture and reduce your levels of stress, which in turn affects the states of cells that are involved in your immune system.”

If all of this vacation talk has you ready to pack up and hit the road, but unsure if you can be gone for too long or afford a cross-country trek, Merriam has launched the Summer Staycation” just in time for your planned days off. Whether you prefer to stay locally and hit up the best attractions KC has to offer, or you’d like to explore more of the sunflower state, our summer offerings pair perfectly with a bottle of sunscreen, a little bit of gas money and an appetite for exploring. From popular local hot spots to favorite road-side attractions, check out the Summer Staycation / Travel Kansas options and have a great trip making memories with those you love!

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Tourism, Then & Now // #NTTW18

This week, Merriam is celebrating National Tourism Week! This annual event is a time for tourism entities across the nation to recognize those who work in this service industry, and to share with others the vital impact of tourism on our local economy. This year’s theme, “Tourism, Then & Now,”  also gives us a fun opportunity to showcase how Merriam tourism has developed throughout the years. Follow along our ‘then and now’ social posts, or reach out with special thanks to those who work behind the scenes at a hotel or restaurant, convenience store, ride service or retail establishment. Without these individuals serving the visitors to our community, tourism would look vastly different, not only in Merriam, but across the globe.

Take a look at these staggering visitation numbers:

LOCAL / REGIONAL:

  • Merriam’s Pickleball Festival (October, 2017) yielded 135 players from 26 states and four countries and $75,000 in visitor spending over three days.
  • Kansas City welcomes more than 25 million visitors to the region annually.
  • Tourism generated a record $5.5 billion in economic impact for the region, including indirect and induced spending.
  • 23% of visitor spending occurs in Johnson County (47% Jackson County; 6% Wyandotte County).
  • In 2016, tourism to the region generated $380 million in state and local taxes, which in turn saved each area household $550 in taxes.

STATE:

  • 36 million people visit the State of Kansas each year.
  • 14.2 million people stay overnight.
  • Each visitor spends approximately $186 per person, per trip in Kansas.
  • 95,000 tourism jobs in Kansas are supported through visitor spending.

NATIONAL:

  • One in nine jobs depend on travel and tourism.
  • Travel is among the top 10 industries in 49 states and D.C. in terms of employment.
  • Top leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers: (1) visiting relatives; (2) shopping; (3) visiting friends; (4) fine dining; and (5) rural sightseeing.
  • Direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.8 million per day, $118.2 million per hour, $2.0 million a minute and $32,800 per second.

This year’s #NTTW18 is more than just another campaign. It’s a movement that positions the travel industry as a primary driver in the U.S. economy, and an important part of our daily lives in Merriam, Kansas.

The Merriam Visitors Bureau gives special thanks to those who work the front lines, behind the scenes, and in any role that services our visitors! Speaking of visitors, we also thank you for choosing our community–your travel dollar supports hundreds of local jobs and allows us to maintain an inviting and enjoyable place for all to live and visit!

 

Turkey Creek Festival Top 10

TCF TOP 10
Merriam’s largest annual festival is approaching, and organizers are gearing up for this highly anticipated family event. The Turkey Creek Festival officially kicks-off the summer event season in Merriam, and is held on the third Saturday in May each year at Antioch Park.

Whether you’re a seasoned TCF pro, or 2018 will be your first festival, you’ll want to be sure to take in all the sights and fun of the day. Gates are open from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., so there’s plenty of time to delight in all things Turkey Creek! To help you enjoy a sampling of the entire festival, check out the Visitors Bureau’s Turkey Creek Festival Top 10 below.

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  1. Get your early morning workout in by joining the Turkey Creek Festival 5K. This family friendly route through some of Merriam’s prettiest neighborhoods will earn you the daily 10,000 step count in no time. Learn more here!
  2. After 3.1 miles, you’ve probably worked up a good appetite…satisfy those hunger pangs at the Lions Club pancake feed in shelter #1 at Antioch Park.  From 7:30-11:30 a.m., for the low, low price of $6.00 ($4.00 for kids 12 and younger), you can feast on pancakes, sausage, coffee and orange juice until your heart is content.
  3. Right inside the gates, you can interact with Merriam’s first responders! From touring the fire truck to chatting with police and EMS, Merriam welcomes you to stop by and say hi.
  4. Stroll the artisans expo in search of the perfect home decor piece, hand-made jewelry bauble or other fabulous find.
  5. Tackle a little woodworking project with the kiddos at Home Depot’s building area in the park shelter.
  6. Take a lunch break on the beautiful park grounds! Choose your favorite concession fare–turkey legs, gyros, ribbon curl fries, hot dogs–the menu options are endless!
  7. Sway to the tunes during one of the live concert performances. From country to rockabilly, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to fine-tune your two-step!
  8. Ride the train…it’s small, but mighty, and will give you a tiny reprieve traveling from one space to another if you need to rest your legs while giving the kids a fun activity.
  9. Once your legs have recovered, the kids will ask to take the boat ride. Warning…you’ll be pedaling, hence they are called pedal boats. They’re a lot of fun, but make sure you’re prepared to pedal across the small lake and back.
  10. Star Wars characters will be strolling the park grounds. If you’re a character chaser, bring your autograph book and a pen! May the force be with you!

    pedal boats

TCF helpful resources:
Festival video
TCF information
Artisans Expo
5K Run/Walk & Youth Sprint

Trek The Steamway Trail!

Turkey Creek Streamway Trail (9)

The sun is shining, you need to reach your daily step count, the dog is all leashed up, and those new sneakers are begging for a few miles. It’s never a better time to hit the Streamway Trail in Merriam.

This four-mile path will guide you along wooded areas, industrial business centers, residential neighborhoods, public parks and Merriam’s newest art installations, Still Time and Planting the Seeds. Winding along Merriam’s Turkey Creek, the Streamway Trail begins on the south end of Merriam at the 75th Street access point and finishes up near Waterfall Park at 51st and Merriam Drive on the north end of town. The trail also offers access points at Chatlain Park, Campbell Park and the Merriam Marketplace. Serious trail blazers can keep moving along Streamway Trail into Overland Park via Antioch Road.

If you’re ready to lace up and head out for a beautiful day of trekking the trail, be sure to check out page 17 in the new Merriam Community & Visitors Guide to learn about all the sights to see along the way. We’ve even included a tasty homemade trail mix recipe from our Parks & Recreation Director Anna Slocum.

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More trail tips & helpful info:

  • Trail markers are available every 1/2 mile and emergency 911 markers are available every 1/10 mile.
  • The entire trail is paved.
  • Dog-friendly waste stations are available along the trail.
  • Hop off the trail to enjoy lunch or dinner in downtown Merriam.
  • Grab a JCPRD Trail Guide at the Merriam Visitors Bureau at 6304 E. Frontage Road.
  • Share your trail pics with @ExploreMerriam on Instagram.

 

Happy trails from the Merriam Visitors Bureau!

 

Holidays…KC style!

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Maybe I’m a little biased, and I’m sure most people feel the same about their hometown, but Christmas in Kansas City is magical. Everyone should come here to experience the most wonderful time of the year. From Santa sightings in every corner of the metro to musical performances not to be missed, Kansas City is the place to be for the holidays. If you find yourself on the road or in the sky en route to KC this December, I hope you’ll take the time to add in at least one quintessential Kansas City holiday must-do! Here’s a nice list to get you started:

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all things holiday in Kansas City, it’s a great start when looking for something holiday-ish to-do. What is your favorite holiday tradition in Kansas City? My family’s favorite is driving the neighborhoods to see the light displays (shout out to Candy Cane Lane in Prairie Village), grabbing hot cocoa and ending at the Crown Center shops to select a new ornament for our tree.

Happy holidays from the Merriam Visitors Bureau!

Third Shot’s a Charm…

If you had asked me a year ago what pickleball was, I would have said something to do with throwing pickles. Fast forward to today, and I’ve got a whole new level of pickleball appreciation, thanks to a local guy named Mickey Collins who happened upon my office one day!

Merriam just finished up a 3-day inaugural pickleball festival called “Third Shot’s a Charm” which came to pass mainly because the Facebook Pickleball Forum mentioned how cool it would be to host an event once the forum gained 10,000 followers. Well, if you know anything about pickleball, you know it spreads like wildfire and it took very little time to hit that 10K mark. After it did, Mickey began talks with a California pickleballer named Aspen Kern who also helped coordinate efforts for the festival. Due to our affordable and convenient (and super friendly) midwestern location, Merriam was the clear choice for hosting  TSAC, and with only three months to plan (which is like four minutes to a CVB), we went to work.

What I didn’t  expect was the immediate outpouring of volunteer support and comments that quickly began circulating about how excited people were to meet in person after only connecting through the online forum for months. News traveled fast about the inaugural meet-up, and soon we began receiving requests for visitor guides. Franklin Sports reached out to see how they could help and things began to come together. Although I don’t personally play pickleball (yet), I was allowed into the forum and could see the buzz surrounding this event. I knew then, this group of people will be fun to host in Merriam.

Where in the Pickleball Are You From?

I was right! From the gate, people began filing in early on Friday morning, ready to play.  We setup a little welcome booth with our local Povitica dessert bread (which I claimed to be a “carb” boost before taking the court), we asked people to pin their pickleball home state on our map and we answered questions about where to dine, shop and explore. All day long, people came and went, but the courts were NEVER empty. I heard from event organizers that the lights had to be turned out for people to realize it was time to put the paddles (and themselves) to rest for the night.

The evening opening reception was a blast too…there was dancing and wine tasting and socializing, Kansas City BBQ, local entertainment, prizes and more—everyone just seemed to be thrilled to be together. I was in awe of how connected these people were, some having met in person for the first time just hours ago across a net.

Welcome to Merriam!

After three days of pickleballin’ in Merriam, Kansas, it was time to pack up and say goodbye. Rob Noonan from Sioux Falls, SD, best summarized the event in a video he made walking back to the courts, and his sentiment was echoed by everyone. A week later, the forum is still chatting about how much fun they had, when will we plan another, etc. etc. I can tell you one thing–these pickleballers are welcome in Merriam anytime. I had absolutely the most amazing time meeting and greeting this group!

Franklin Sports came too, all the way from Boston!

While Merriam may not be big enough to accommodate large sporting events or headliner concerts, the Pickleball Forum was Just Right and we are so pleased to have been your host. Come see us again next year!

Fall Foliage in the ‘Burbs

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”  –William Cullen Bryant

In less than a week, the official start to fall will be underway. The temps in Kansas, according to Weather Center, will remain in the 80’s, but we Kansans flock to our sweaters and jackets the moment a slight chill is in the air. You might think that Kansas isn’t necessarily the greatest spot to view the beautiful colors of fall. Well, while we may not have the foliage followers of the Northeastern states, we can certainly hold our own in beauty, color and fantastic weather when the leaves do begin to turn.

Here in suburban Merriam, just 10 minutes from downtown Kansas City, it can be challenging to find large swaths of foliage to gaze upon, but we are definitely full of pockets of autumn Pantones across the city. Take a peek at our favorite spots to view the changing leaves this season!

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Antioch Park, Merriam Kansas

  • Turkey Creek Streamway Trail — running along the west side of I-35 from Waterfall Park to the 75th Street access point, this 4-mile paved trail is full of trees, shrubbery, wildlife and a trickling stream for a beautiful nature walk this fall.
  • Antioch Park — the most popular park in Merriam, Antioch Park offers picturesque views of some of the most vibrant and beautiful trees in our city.
  • Merriam Historic Plaza — check out the pretty line of maples along the sidewalk of Merriam Historic Plaza at Shawnee Mission Parkway and I-35. While you’re there, take in a mini history lesson about our great city on the outdoor walking path.

Nature’s beauty is never more evident than when the trees become ablaze in brilliant shades of oranges, reds and golds. Where’s your favorite spot to view the leaves in Merriam? Snap a pic when the colors are in full bloom, share it socially and tag us @ExploreMerriam–we’d love to see your fall photos.


For the locals:
The leaves are pretty but they eventually fade and drop to the ground. This year, the City of Merriam has arranged for Benjamin Lawn & Landscape to offer a group rate for residential curbside leaf removal in neighborhoods. Click here to learn more!

For the visitors:
Stop by the Merriam Visitors Bureau office at 6304 E. Frontage Road (M-F 8-4:30) to pick up a Merriam Visitors Guide full of attractions, shops and restaurants, or click here to explore our seasonal favorites in and around Merriam!