Community centers are great for visitors, too!

Merriam is embarking on ground-breaking developments – literally! As we celebrate the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony of our new community center on Aug. 30, we thought it would be nice to share how a community center is not only great for our local residents, but also for those who visit our city.

Groundbreaking MCC

Community centers are wonderful facilities that serve as gathering places for fitness classes, recreational programs, dedicated art space, and meetings and events. From daily walking clubs to those who meet up once a month for coffee and a chat, a community center is a hub of activity in any city or town. It serves the needs of various audiences from youth to seniors, business executives to gym goers, and many in between. It’s budget friendly for those seeking affordable recreation and the offerings are always abundant.

But, many times, when visiting a new destination, travelers don’t automatically think of a community center as something they can utilize. How many times have you visited a town and headed down to your hotel’s gym, which may only include a couple of machines and a hanging TV? Maybe you’re a free-weight kind of person or you prefer mat space for a quick yoga sesh. Why not consider the local community center? Yes, it might be more valuable to a local resident who pays an annual membership and frequents it regularly, but there’s no doubt you’ll find a great mix of daily classes, a fully accessible gym with all the latest equipment, weights and floor space, a fancy aquatic center (ours will have a lazy river), and a friendly team of people ready to greet you.

On a trip west last year for my annual conference, the hotel gym was a converted gazebo with two treadmills, an elliptical, and a stack of towels on the water dispenser. It was better than nothing, but my head nearly touched the ceiling and it just seemed thrown together. The workout was just meh. That evening, I called the local community center, and it had a 6 a.m. zumba class the next day – visitors welcomed! It was still dark outside on the drive over, but I was so much happier to greet fellow zumba enthusiasts rather than the boring, squeaky gazebo treadmill again. I paid a rate for a drop-in visitor, enjoyed the hour-long sweat marathon, and headed back to the hotel for opening conference session. Don’t get me wrong – many hotels offer fantastic amenities in their fitness centers, but if you crave all of the bells and whistles, a community center is the ticket.

kitty workout

Let’s explore other community center offerings visitors might enjoy while in town:

  • Access to a wide variety of classes — from yoga to bird-watching, personal finance to nutritious meal prep. You can check out the monthly lineup to see if you can learn something new.
  • Drop-in rate on a special program (bingo, cards, movie matinee).
  • Art gallery exhibits and events — many centers offer public viewing space for rotating exhibits.
  • Meeting space usage — need to work remotely for a few hours or find a space where colleagues can gather? Community center rental spaces are often more affordable options.
  • Walking track — get in those daily steps at the local community center.
  • Aquatic center amenities — take a dip in the pool for a refreshing beginning (or end) to your day.

Merriam’s new community center is on track for construction this fall with a proposed opening in summer 2020. This new facility is just minutes from the hotels in Merriam and will give visitors the same great access that residents can enjoy. Stay tuned on our progress here and, in the meantime, join us as we turn the dirt on Aug. 30.

 

 

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.