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!

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.

Essentials for the Girlfriends’ Getaway!

Fall is a great time of year to pack up and take a little trip with the girls.  Kids are back to normal school routines, summer activities and sports have dwindled and there’s a ton of sale events and fall activities to entice the ladies for an extended weekend at your favorite destination.  To make the most of your time, budget and fun while away, here’s a list of our top 10 essentials for your next girlfriends’ getaway.

Shopping women

  1. Start early and save early – It’s important to plan at least 3-6 months out for extended weekend trips.  It gives everyone time to research your chosen destination and exchange ideas for things to do while away.  Look for recommendations and peer reviews on Trip Advisor.
  2. Organize your home life so you can enjoy the trip – Don’t let little details from home affect your good time.  Keep the kids’ schedule light while you’re away; make sure dad has a list of important information; and, check in only daily to say hi to your flock.  Getting away will bring you back refreshed and ready to see the fam.
  3. Contact the local CVB for information — Once your destination is chosen, call the local Convention & Visitors Bureau for a Visitors’ Guide, map of the area, special offers and recommendations. The CVB is a handy resource before and during your trip.
  4. Book your lodging – Don’t wait until the last minute to pick accommodations and make sure you read the fine print of any special online offers. Many discounted room offers have black-out dates or are only offered during weekdays.  Book early, and if you find savings closer to your arrival date, ask for your reservation to be changed to accommodate the new discount.
  5. Share the duties – Remember, many hands make light work.  Assign everyone on the trip a special job. Someone can plan snacks and beverages for the ride; another person can navigate stops and bathroom breaks.
  6. Pack light – Face it, we over pack. We don’t mean to, but what if we need a dress for an evening social or yoga pants for a workout?  Let’s get real when packing for weekend getaways.  Four girls do not need four hair dryers and flat irons.  Share the bathroom items and reduce the shoe load.  Pack according to weather and chosen activities, throw in some jammies, one extra lounging outfit and hit the road.  Remember, you can always shop for that sparkly little number if needed.
  7. Let everyone choose an activity – Nothing kills the vibe if only one person gets to choose the activities. Maybe you like wine tasting but another gal is a beer fan.  Make sure everyone gets a choice by allowing options for dining, activities and stops in between.  Always include downtime for girl chat and freshening up for the next round of fun.
  8. Do something unexpected – Throw a surprise in the trip. It can be as simple as giving the ladies a little gift bag of items to enjoy on the trip (mascara, eye pillow, aspirin, water bottle, hand lotion, tissues, snacks, etc.)  Or, maybe you can go all out and plan a stop mid-way between home and your destination for a tour, unique dining option or something completely off the itinerary.  Themes are really fun too!
  9. Make memories – Snap a lot of pictures and take along a journal for the ladies to jot notes, memories and quotes. Upon your return, make mini-scrapbooks (digital or print) to share over coffee with the ladies when planning your next trip!
  10. Have fun – Don’t forget to enjoy the moment. Thinking ahead to the next activity or venue does not fully allow you to experience what you’re doing at the present time.  Breathe, smile and enjoy the company of your best girlfriends!

Our picks for nearby girlfriend getaways:

  • Paola / Miami County – Miami County Wine Trolley and glamping at Hoot Owl Hill
  • Wichita – art museums and eclectic dining all across the city
  • Kansas City region – tours at Boulevard, Roasterie and Christopher Elbow Chocolates; shopping at the new Merriam IKEA; lunch from a food truck vendor; West Bottoms antiquing; dinner at Grand Street Café and country line dancing at Kanza Hall.
  • Atchison – haunted tour, shopping at Nell Hills and staying at a historic B&B
  • Lake of the Ozarks – holiday shopping trip at the Premium Outlets with a recovery massage at Spa Shiki

What’s your favorite destination for a girls’ getaway near Kansas City?  If you’re coming through Merriam, check out our special offers at nearby hotels for your lodging needs.

10 TIPS TO SUCCESSFULLY SHOP IKEA!

All of Kansas City knows that the newest IKEA opens doors to the thousands of “some assembly required” experts (or novices) on Wednesday, September 10th in Merriam, Kansas.  No doubt the metro has been aching for this blue and yellow giant to come to Kansas City for a long-time.  There’s no shortage of “bring IKEA to (city, state)” groups all over Facebook.  There’s even a great following of IKEA Hacks on Pinterest where you can make tons of interesting projects from the inventory of items gracing the shelves at this long-awaited furnishings retailer. Soon, the masses will arrive and nearby restaurants, hotels and other businesses will see the ripple effect of shoppers ready to race their carts into the expanse of IKEA wonderland.  The CVB has compiled our list of shopping tips to help you navigate and enjoy the all-new Merriam IKEA.  Happy shopping!

Visitor Bureau’s Top 10 Tips for IKEA Shoppers:

IKEA Catalog

  1. Wear comfy shoes! This is #1 for a reason.  Big store, lots of items.  You’ll probably hit your 10,000 minimum daily step requirement.
  2. Check out the catalog before you visit to jot down potential items and departments you’d like to visit. Create a wish list so you won’t forget your favorites.  Of course, IKEA makes it super easy for you by providing a catalog app for iOS or Android.  In store, write down (or snap a label pic) of aisle and product numbers so you know where to pick-up items in the self-serve area after checkout.
  3. Map out the store to maximize your shopping experience. Grab your cart first—you will be distracted by shiny objects and the wafting scent of Swedish meatballs.  Be strong and focus–the meatballs are patient and will wait for you.
  4. Make sure you know where the restrooms are located. No one can shop peacefully with a nagging bladder.
  5. Come hungry…where else can you have breakfast for 99 cents?  IKEA serves breakfast to dinner daily.  No time to stay?  Take it home and serve up an affordable and fantastic meal from IKEA.  Kids also eat free in the restaurant on Tuesdays.  Errands, shopping, dinner—DONE!
  6. Utilize IKEA’s supervised play area for the kiddos. Make sure to check the store for details on height restrictions and keep an eye on your time.
  7. Join the IKEA family. You’ll get sneak peeks, an e-mail newsletter, money-saving offers, inspiring home furnishings workshops and more—and, it’s FREE.  Visit IKEA-USA.com/FAMILY to join today!
  8. What do you mean the couch you just purchased won’t fit in your FIAT? No worries…Great Day Moving has a delivery offer just for you!
  9. Look for the yellow striped shirts that say IKEA.  Those people can help you.  Surely, you’ve seen the commercials?  If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, know your colors.  Red tags = self-pick up items; yellow tags = need a store associate to help.  Keep notes on aisles and product numbers to make your pick-up simple and easy.
  10. Be patient.  When the store first opens, it will be busy.  Smile instead of smirk, wait instead of push ahead, or hold a door for another shopper.  Kindness goes a long way and makes for a more enjoyable experience for all!  Above everything else, have a great time shopping at the all-new Merriam IKEA. We’re glad you’re here!

2015 IKEA Catalog
Ten Fall Picks in Merriam
Special Offers in Merriam
Download a Merriam Visitors Guide
Stay in Merriam
Contact the Visitors Bureau!