Pet-friendly Merriam!

In celebration of National Pet Day on April 11th (yes, it’s a thing–the National Calendar at a Glance says so), we thought it fitting to celebrate and share the fur babies in our lives, and educate travelers about Merriam’s pet-friendly places.
Ladi Dadi
Meet Ladi Dadi—she’s a toy poodle who is the sweetest, most loving and smart girl around. Fiercely protective of her travel bag (her mohawk hairstyle all the more intimidating), Ladi loves to tag along with her humans on various trips and excursions, happily obeying all the puppy laws when livin’ it up at a pooch-friendly spot.

This is Pip! Pip is a temperamental rabbit who lives in a custom-made triplex rabbit condo and is too spoiled for her own good. She enjoys lounging near her hay rack by day and wreaking havoc by night, keeping her human (and human’s parents) awake until the wee hours like it’s her own personal bunny nightclub. Pip is portable and has traveled on occasion—thankfully never being snubbed since she’s not a typical traveling pet.

Pip the Rabbit

If you’re a pet parent, you know the struggle is real when trying to decide to travel or not to travel with the critters in tow. In fact, according to DogVacay.com, “pet owners aren’t fully enjoying the benefits of what should be a relaxing travel experience because they are worrying about their pets.” This nifty infographic shows that 73% of people feel guilty about leaving their pet in a kennel when they travel and 21% of them have trouble finding pet-friendly accommodations. Fortunately, since there are so many of us pro-pet travelers out there, lodging, attractions and other visitor-friendly locations are starting to pay attention and make special packages and allowances so people and pets can travel more freely together.

Sure, there are times when the grandpet parents are a more suitable option or the Rover.com sitter just makes more sense, but for times when you really want to get away with your fur-baby, it’s good to know the pet-friendly odds are shifting in your favor.

Here in Merriam for example, pets are heartily welcomed in our community. From overnight lodging to a doggie day-care if you prefer a parents’ day out activity, the plethora of pet amenities are certainly a good reason to consider Merriam when traveling to the Kansas City region. Take a peek at our pet-friendly spots across town and be sure to swing by the CVB office (M-F 8:00a.m.-4:30 p.m.) for a pooch treat if you’re in the neighborhood.

  • Lodging: Drury Inn, Super 8, Extended Stay America and Quality Inn Merriam all have pet-friendly policies. Please inquire with each property for specific details–click here for easy access to the hotels online.
  • Daycare/Boarding: Woof’s Play & Stay offers boarding options when you must leave them behind and day-play if you need a PDO. Grooming services are also available, and who knows, your pooch could win Top Dog Award.
  • Grooming: Jenny’s Pet Care & Dog Grooming on Merriam Drive is a great spot for a spiffy new do! Mention her website coupon and receive $3 off your first dog groom.
  • Supplies: PetSmart at Merriam Town Center and Merriam Lawn & Feed at Johnson & Merriam Drive both have pet food and supplies if you forget an essential supply when visiting.
  • Parks, parks, and more parks: All of Merriam’s parks and trails are pet-friendly and nary a moment goes by without seeing a leashed fur baby leading the way of park goers and trail walkers. Bonus: all Merriam parks have pet waste stations, so there’s no worries when duty calls. Click here for a list of parks in Merriam!
  • Day for the Dogs: No community would be complete without an event entirely focused on the four-legged furries.  Merriam’s Pooch Paddle is a fun, tail-wagging, all-dog swimming party held on Monday, September 4, 2017 at the Merriam Aquatic Center.
  • No Pets? You may be reading this blog thinking, “I don’t even have a pet.” We’ve got that covered too. Merriam is home to Great Plains SPCA, a local shelter housing dogs and cats (and sometimes other animals) in need of caring, loving homes and humans. Give them a shout if you’re looking to adopt, or feel free to make a little donation to keep this worthy organization stocked with supplies.

Now that you’ve got the perfect pet-friendly place to visit, come see us in Merriam! We’re pawsitively certain you’ll love our pawspitality–fur real!

The Little Gallery That Could

art gallery

When walking into the local community center in downtown Merriam, one may not expect to find art. Sure, it’s commonplace to see meeting rooms, a gymnasium and fitness classes taking place. Community centers are known for health and wellness functions, events, classes, local networking and places to hold meetings, but a growing trend amongst public spaces like these is to also form a greater connection to those who frequent or visit the facility through the thoughtful placement of art. Venturing up to the third floor of Merriam’s center, visitors will discover a quaint and private space housing the rotating exhibits of the Tim Murphy Art Gallery.

Now in its 21st year and named after one of Merriam’s most beloved employees, the Tim Murphy Art Gallery is nestled in a cozy spot providing visitors a beautiful retreat to view and appreciate art. Eleven exhibits are hosted each year and all feature an opening evening reception on the first night of the exhibit. Varied types of art adorn the walls of the gallery, and two exhibits are regionally and nationally juried. In fact, the December, 2016 High School Visual Arts Exhibition included 182 submissions from 151 students in 20 metro area high schools–many going on to win awards for their work.

The Heartland Artist Exhibition (March 4 – April 11) is Merriam’s largest show and draws artists from all corners of the United States. This annual exhibition offers awards for Best in Show and is one of the highest attended receptions of all gallery events.

Whether you’re an art aficionado and trickle from place to place discovering the beauty and talent of local artists, or if you’re a first-timer and just want a peaceful place for an afternoon art excursion, try the Tim Murphy Art Gallery in downtown Merriam!


  • Click here for TMAG’s 2017 exhibition schedule.
  • Are you an artist? Click here for the 2018 Call for Artists in Merriam.

Frights, Flights and Friday Night Lights

october activities
Last month, we shared all things Pumpkin Spice and while we’re still savoring that delicious and popular flavor, it’s time to move into October and talk about fun, seasonal activities taking place in Merriam and across Kansas City!

We’ve shared our top three seasonal picks for you below. Whether you’re a life-time Merriam resident or visiting our town for the first time–come out and join the fun while exploring the beauty of fall in the Midwest.

  1. Frights — Well, maybe this event isn’t so frightening, but it’s definitely fun for the whole family! Merriam’s annual Halloween Happenings takes place on Saturday, October 29th and features a costume contest, games, children’s inflatables, storytelling and more. If you want a trial run for your costumes before the big H, come on down to Merriam Drive and enjoy this spooktacular event.
  2. Flights — Did you know that Kansas once produced the most fertile soil for grape growing? Had it not been for the prohibition, maybe Kansas would be the Napa Valley of the Midwest. Either way, Kansas certainly has a broad range of wineries across the state, and even right here in the metro region. For those looking to visit a winery this season, one of our faves is the cool vibe and delicious sips offered at KC Wine Co. located off Gardner Road in Olathe. Check out their upcoming events and head out for a flight of reds or whites (or both).
  3. Friday Night Lights — Nothing says fall like Friday night football and Merriam is smack in the middle of the action. Part of the award-winning Shawnee Mission School District, Merriam is nestled nearby the beautiful Shawnee Mission North High School and games are aplenty this time of year. Come on out to cheer on the Indians, enjoy the marching band, cheerleaders, school spirit and game-time concessions. What a great way to spend a Friday evening!

Happy fall from the Merriam Visitors Bureau. @exploremerriam

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

pumpkin spice coffee

Ah, September–the month when pumpkin spice flavor returns to menus across the globe–even if it’s 80 degrees and fall is nowhere to be seen. Twitter was so abuzz last week with tweets about lattes and breads and candles and pumpkin everything, that one would think it was a national holiday.

Pumpkin spice has already garnered so much attention this season that Starbucks decided to give their latte an acronym–the PSL. Since the world is so in love with this trending seasonal flavor, we figured it fitting to share our Merriam contributions to the pumpkin spice revolution. Take a peek below at our top pumpkin spice finds in Merriam!

  1. Caribou Coffee — pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin white mocha and pumpkin chai latte all on the menu just for you.
  2. Pumpkin Spice Povitica — Strawberry Hill Povitica (shop online, use code VB2017 for the $19.99/loaf offer with free shipping.)
  3. Mixture’s Pumpkin Spice Candle — voted #1 pumpkin spice fragrance by Huffington Post
  4. Pegah’s Family Restaurant pumpkin pancakes — yes please!
  5. Starbucks PSL–remember the acronym? Well, whether you like it frozen, iced or hot, pumpkin spice is now in stores.
  6. Rounding out the list of pumpkin spice coma inducing deliciousness is the Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnut. Need we say more?

While we may have missed one or two, this list will surely get you on your way to pumpkin spice paradise. Enjoy the beauty of the season and all things PS.

The Millennial Traveler

selfie photo - millennials
By the year 2020, millennials* will make up 50% of the workforce. That’s half of all other generational types combined–an astounding number for companies who sell travel related services, especially since millennials are one of the highest traveling age segments too. As a destination that welcomes all ages, young and old, it’s important to routinely review our community’s offerings for the ever-changing traveler interests. Here’s what we know about millennials and their travel preferences:

Five Trends in Millennial Travel

  1. They value experiences over things. In fact, six out of ten prefer to spend their disposable income on travel rather than material items. And, they 24% plan to take more overnight trips in the coming year. In terms of spending, millennials will spend more on travel services than any other age group in the next 12 months.
  2. They use ALL or most of their vacation time. Rather than hoarding it for a rainy day like generations past (read more here), millennials believe their time is earned and should be used! Score one for the millennial mindset.
  3. Not your typical destination travelers, millennials like to experience things that are out of the norm, adventurous or hands-on. While sand and surf might be on the itinerary, a week-long beach vacay is not normally in their plans. Instead, they’re out on foodie adventures, exploring the lesser known community gems or zip lining through the woods.
  4. Have pets, will travel. As more and more destination amenities become pet-friendly, millennials expect to bring along their furry companions, so it’s a good idea to roll out the red carpet (and pet hair roller).
  5. Millennials trust their peer network. They seek out travel opinions on social networks. They’ve grown up along with new digital options that didn’t exist in the Gen X generation so their trusted resource comes from posts, likes and shares of those they know.

As we embark on the busy summer travel season, it’s important to remember that not every destination has a mountain to scale or a volcano to explore, but that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on the millennials. Some are here for meetings and events and others are visiting friends and relatives, so they may only have time for one or two additional excursions during their visit. It’s the unique things found within our communities like food truck festivals, art walks or paddle boarding local streams and rivers that can also have an impact on millennial travel decisions. Here’s a few options for millennials (and all generations) to consider in Merriam this summer and year-round!

Go, See, Do in Merriam…

  • GoStrawberry Hill Povitica Bakery — sample the dessert bread and watch artisan bakers create this popular and tasty treat made right in Merriam!
  • See – Visit the current exhibit on display at the Tim Murphy Art Gallery, then stroll south along Merriam Drive to check-out our newest art installation, “Still Time.”
  • Do – Grab a few friends for a fun afternoon of geocaching in Merriam. Enjoy a game of seek and find along this digital treasure hunt–click here for caches placed by the CVB!

*millennial = person born between 1980-2000

Spring Break on a Budget!

spring break image, books, appleNothing is better than a mid-March dash to a sunny spot along the coast for Spring Break.  Unless you’re broke.

Well, very soon, schools all over the United States will pause for the highly anticipated annual Spring Break. This little respite gives students and teachers a smidgen of rest before the last quarter, which is typically full of approaching exams, banquets, spring sports and activities. While many high school and college kids will head to warmer destinations, not everyone can jet off for a tropical party on the beach. Many students stay in town for sport practices, jobs or other commitments and others just can’t afford a mini-vacation.

In our house, we would love to get away for some fun in the sun, but there’s just too much on the calendar, so we’ll be spring breaking at home this year. If you’re in the same boat, don’t despair–rather, think about all of the things to do and places to see in your own destination (or nearby). Even if you can only explore for a day, there’s a ton of options out there if you plan ahead and set aside a small budget to fund your in-town travels.

Right here in metro Kansas City, I could probably build an entire week’s worth of activities and places our family has yet to visit and we’ve lived here since the early 90’s. But, if planning ahead isn’t your thing, you’re in luck! Take a look at the Top 10 Spring Break on a Budget suggestions below to kick-off your upcoming itinerary:

  1. For the foodies–enjoy a dining day out; pick three restaurants you’ve never been to before and plan to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner between the three.
  2. Sports enthusiasts can make a day out of zip lining, disc golf, indoor skydiving or biking the local trails for an adventure packed outing.
  3. If history is more your speed, many area museums are FREE and even if you’ve been before, traveling exhibits rotate frequently, so pick a couple to revisit and appreciate.
  4. Take a road trip in your state. Rather than jumping on the interstate, travel the back roads and make a few stops in tiny towns along the way to your destination. Some of those places have the best kept secrets including places to eat and one-of-kind attractions.
  5. Capture the moments and #hash tag them. Your entire spring break could be a cool insta-hop from attraction to attraction. Sharing your memories with friends and followers is fun and also provides a digital collection of your favorite memories.
  6. Families can stick to a budget by incorporating traditionally free attractions like parks and outdoor recreation. Check with your local parks department to ask about programs and events during your spring break week.
  7. Take an art stroll around town; from sculptures to permanent or rotating gallery exhibits, finding the vast collection in your destination could be a fun and new learning experience.
  8.  Volunteer! Did you know there are entire groups of students who forego a break altogether in favor of helping others? If you’re interested in giving back during your free time, there are dozens of options from organizations who need your help.
  9. Get out and play! Not everyone is amazing at a sport, but if you wrangle up a group of friends and make a day out of bowling, arcade games, mini-golf or group games, you can create a fun day for all–without the need for competitiveness or highly skilled athletes. Wrap it up with a BBQ in the park or a bonfire in the country.
  10. Contact the local convention and visitors bureau to see what’s going on in your community! The CVB is always a great resource and oftentimes, the staff has insider tips, recommendations and destination referrals.

Spring breaking in KC? Check out this one-day itinerary of CVB picks for budget-friendly fun across the metro!

  • Start the day with a delicious slice of povitica from Merriam’s local Strawberry Hill Povitica bakery or try breakfast at a restaurant you’ve never been to. I love the chicken and waffles with jalapeno gravy at McCoy’s Public House in Westport (but FYI, brunch is only available Sat/Sun).
  • Head over to the FREE Nelson Atkins Museum of Art (Voted Yelp’s Best U.S. Museum) to check out the exhibits.
  • Just a few blocks away, spend the rest of the morning on a scavenger hunt  through the Country Club Plaza or do some light shopping among the bunnies.
  • There’s no doubt that you’ve added 10,000+ steps on your fitness tracker by now, so maybe it’s time to slow down and take in a movie at Cinetopia (135th & Lamar) in Overland Park. From comfy, living room seating to a fully accessible restaurant and bar, this place is the ultimate movie-goers experience.
  • To finish off the day, round-up your buddies for a little Frisbee in a local park or play baseball at a nearby diamond. En route home, stop by Anita’s Cuisine in Merriam for the very best pupusas around, but be sure to arrive before closing (Mon-Sat, 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.)

Happy Spring from the Merriam Visitors Bureau!

 

Love is in the air…10 things to do across Kansas City on Valentine’s Weekend!

Sweet, sweet February 14th–same day every year, yet planning ahead for Valentine’s Day seems to sneak up on us. In 2016, this traditional lovebird holiday falls on a Sunday which means you can probably celebrate Saturday or Sunday without last-minute, after-work dinner reservations and daycare shuffling.

To help you prep for a special and memorable V-day, the Merriam Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of 10 things to do on Valentine’s weekend in Merriam and across the Kansas City region. Pick one or be ambitious and shoot for all 10—but, whatever you do, don’t be the person standing in the picked over Valentine card section at the local grocery store on February 14th.

valentine's image

  1. Sample the newest flavor of Merriam’s favorite dessert bread at Strawberry Hill Povitica! The White Chocolate Cherry is the perfect gift to share over dessert coffee or champagne. Stop by the store to pick-up or order any of their 12 delicious flavors online—and, click here for the CVB discount so you can save a little on your purchase!
  2. Lock up your love on the Old Red Bridge in Minor Park (Kansas City). Bring a padlock, whisper sweet nothings and pick a special place to secure your lock on the bridge.
  3. Celebrating with the littles: enjoy Merriam’s Daddy Daughter Soiree on Saturday, February 13th. For $50 per couple, your little lady will be over the moon (or the Eiffel Tower) to share this special event with you. Learn more details here!
  4. Take a cooking class together. The Culinary Center of Kansas City offers weekend classes for couples that are sure to spice up your love of cooking—and, each other. Check out the class listings here.
  5. Hanging out at home? Sway to the tunes of a great playlist on Spotify, nosh on gourmet popcorn from Velvet Crème and sip a bottle of bubbly while watching romantic movies in your PJ’s (our pick: Dirty Dancing).
  6. Visit the Russell Stover Candy Company at 10100 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Merriam to sample chocolates together and then buy your favorite for each other!
  7. Splurge on a fancy restaurant! FEAST Magazine just published the Top 10 Romantic Restaurants in Kansas City. Choose from the list for an impressive start to an evening full of good food and plenty of ambiance to set the mood.
  8. Feeling adventurous? Fly above the trees on a zip line in Bonner Springs at Adventure Zip KC. Check out their website for hours, options and pricing.
  9. Wine tour in Kansas City, anyone? If you’ve got a palate for red or white, the KC region offers an abundance of local wineries to sip and savor. KC Wine Co. is hosting “Love is in the Air” on Valentine’s Weekend.
  10. Wanna get away? If jetting off to somewhere tropical isn’t in the Valentine budget, stay local! Merriam has five affordable hotels and is nearby plenty of shopping and dining venues, attractions and romantic spots across the metro. You can enjoy a staycation right here in KC.

Happy love day to our friends and followers—we heart you and we hope you make this Valentine’s weekend one to remember.

xoxo—The Merriam Visitors Bureau!