Road Trip to Merriam

Plan your next summer road trip to Merriam…next door neighbor to Kansas City!

Tired of being stuck at home? Did you have to postpone or cancel the only vacation you planned for 2020? While it’s still a good idea to practice healthy distancing habits, it’s never been a better time to explore somewhere new. Did you know that although millions of Americans have canceled or postponed travel plans, recent travel sentiment studies show that more and more people are already reconsidering their travel plans to include a summer road trip?

What are you waiting for? Grab your keys and gas up the car, bring your social-distance supplies and your appetite for travel, because we’ve got your next summer road trip all mapped out in Merriam, Kansas! Here’s a few items from our jam-packed itinerary:

  • Book your room — discounted rates available.
  • Hit the trails for a leisurely stroll along Merriam’s beautiful Turkey Creek Streamway Trail. This paved path is a great place to see wildlife, grab some steps and connect with nature.
  • Download Merriam’s Sunshine Scavenger Hunt here —snap a selfie when you find the sunshines and tag @ExploreMerriam on social media.
  • Feed the hungry road-trip warriors! Merriam’s got a plate for every palate from handmade tamales at Anita’s, to delicious wraps and burgers at Hurricane Allie’s, to an affordable sit-down dinner at Pegah’s Family Restaurant. Click here for our restaurant selections.
  • Stroll the aisles at IKEA to find home furnishings, décor and essentials, or discover inspiration on the upper level with rooms and rooms of ideas. Don’t forget to grab a tray of cinnamon buns on your way out!

Learn more information about Merriam’s road trip! Here, you can book a discounted hotel reservation, download the 2020 Visitors Guide, print our sample itinerary and map directions to Merriam!

Merriam is a road-trip ready destination just waiting to welcome you! Check out our summer road trip package—we’ve got it all mapped out for you!

Plan for Vacation!

Did you end the year with leftover vacation days? Take time now to plan for 2020 and use the time you earn. National Plan for Vacation Day is Tuesday, January 28–make a plan to claim your days for the rest of the year at the start of the year! Take a peek below at the staggering statistics revealing the work martyr syndrome of the average American.

  • Last year, more than 768 MILLION vacation days went unused—many of which cannot be regained.
  • 55% of Americans left days on the table.
  • Additionally, these are days Americans have earned and when they are completely forfeited (236 million in 2018), they are losing a key benefit, amounting to $65.5 billion. In other words, Americans essentially donated an average of $571 in free work time to their employer.
  • Those who actually plan their vacation days in advance are far more likely to use all of their earned time off than non-planners.
  • Taking time off is associated with higher productivity, better performance, a more positive attitude toward work, increased happiness, improved mental and physical health, better relationships and social life.

On Tuesday, January 28, we encourage you to take some time with your family to plan out your 2020 vacation. Whether it’s an extended weekend or a week-long journey across the country, it’s YOUR earned time off and you should be the one in charge of it!

If Kansas City is on your radar of 2020 destinations to visit, we invite you to explore nearby Merriam! Just a few short miles from downtown KC, Merriam is ideal for a couple’s road trip , a girlfriends’ getaway or a family-friendly visit. Tree-lined streets, walking trails, flower baskets on lampposts, striking public art, unique dining options, attractions within minutes, and a variety of year-round events and activities deliver plenty of fun things to see and do for everyone.

Use those hard-earned vacation days in 2020! Learn more about visiting Merriam at www.exploremerriam.com or follow us socially @ExploreMerriam! Happy travels.

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!

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.

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  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!

To market, to market–10 tips to make the most of your farmers’ market experience!

10 tips to make the most of your farmers' market experience
While summer is indeed winding down, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy those last moments spent outdoors before the snow and muck sets in. Although I personally enjoy the fall and winter months, I do cherish the final bits and pieces of summer’s offering and especially like to stock up at the local farmers’ market before the vendors close up shop for the season. Merriam offers a fantastic farmers’ market (5740 Merriam Drive) throughout the summer with vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods and handcrafted items every Saturday morning from May to mid-October. In fact, the Merriam Marketplace, on average, greets 16,500 market shoppers throughout the season. There are only seven weeks left until the final market Saturday (October 10), so the Visitors Bureau has rounded up 10 tips to make the most of your farmers’ market visit to Merriam.

  1. Come early to find the best selection or come late to find better deals on what items remain.  Merriam’s market runs from 7:00am-1:00pm each Saturday and most vendors offer tasty samples of their goods. Don’t forget to bring cash in small bills.
  2. Bring your own market bag. Many vendors will offer you a plastic grocery bags, but for an eco-friendly option that lets your veggies breathe, invest in a mesh or cloth bag, but be sure to wash them regularly.
  3. Your mama told you…you better shop around.  While I definitely like to stick with certain farmers or shop from the booths I love, it’s a good idea to make the trek around the market comparing prices, flavors and selection.
  4. Pack a cooler to store items that won’t make it home immediately.  Often times, Saturday morning is errand day for many of us, so remember to ice down a small cooler to keep your market buys cool and fresh.  On the other hand, some things don’t prefer the cold, so keep them at room temp (tomatoes tend to become mushy and acidic in the fridge).  Once you arrive back home, it’s time to wash everything and prep for storage or Saturday night dinner!
  5. Take a peek at what’s fresh each month with a seasonal produce calendar so you can be sure to buy your favorite selections when they’re the ripest and most delicious.  I like this one from Muddle a Mint Sprig.
  6. Make a meal plan for the week so you know exactly what items you’ll need.  Here’s a favorite Eggplant Parmesan recipe which makes an appearance on our menu at least 3-4 times throughout the season and it always tastes better with fresh eggplant straight from the market.
  7. Create a list of freezer-friendly foods and stock up on those fruits and vegetables to use in smoothies and soups during the non-market months.  Be sure to label items with a date–no one likes yucky freezer burn taste.
  8. Think outside of the fruit and veggie box.  Even though it’s summertime, farmers markets are a great place to shop for gifts.  With tons of local products (soaps, honey, bread mix, etc.) you can find lots of ideas for an upcoming birthday or other occasion.
  9. Slightly damaged melons need love too.  If you find a bruised item, try offering the vendor a lower price. It’s likely they would rather sell it than throw it out at the end of the day.
  10. Find out what else is going on near the market.  Many regional markets also offer entertainment, cooking demonstrations and other activities. In Merriam, we offer all of that and more.  From chef demos to live, weekly bands and even a great walking trail behind the marketplace, there’s more to do than just sample produce and shop.  Check out Merriam’s line-up of market activity here.

Merriam Marketplace upcoming events | 5740 Merriam Drive

Pianos on Parade | on display under the pavilion through October 10

Farmer’s Market | Saturdays through October 10 | 7:00am-1:00pm

Turkey Creek Car & Motorcycle Show | Saturday, September 12 | 10:00am-4:00pm

Funday Sunday | Sunday, October 11 | 4:00-7:00pm

Halloween Happenings | Saturday, October 24 | 2:00-4:30pm

 

Top 10 Summer Must See & Do’s Across Kansas City!

Summer is officially here and vacationers are on the go!  From booking hotels and buying tickets to planning fun-filled itineraries with things to see and places to visit, Merriam is happy to welcome you to town!  Although many destinations claim they are affordable, fun and unique, the Kansas City metro area should definitely be on your list for that next vacation if you’re seeking awesome attractions, fun, family events and budget-friendly options for lodging, dining and more.  In fact, did you know that Kansas City ranked the “Most Affordable Getaway” for the fourth consecutive year by Travel + Leisure?  And, Merriam was recently named as one of the “Top 100 Small Towns in the U.S.” by Livability(#76).  It’s no secret that some of the regional events, attractions and visitor favorites help to earn these types of designations, so our CVB decided to help you take in a few of our tried and true, some old and new, must-see and do’s across the metro this summer!  Yes, we lean heavy on the Merriam offerings, but we think you’ll like them!  Happy summer everyone–we hope you enjoy your visit! summer in merriam collage

1.  Passport to Summer Fun (Merriam, KS) — this fun-filled activity for the kiddos takes you to six different locations in Merriam to earn a passport stamp and enter to win a prize basket filled with summer goodies.

2.  Bucket List (Kansas City, KS) — designed to give you 94 days of summer fun, you’ll find a great check-list of events, activities, eateries and more!

3.  Where is Modernism? (Shawnee, KS) — if you’re headed to KC with your own transportation, this cool driving tour features  many of the commercial mid-century modern gems along Metcalf Avenue, and the corresponding map invites you to explore some of the area’s residential neighborhoods too!

4.  How About those Kansas City Royals — whether you’re a fan of the boys in blue or not, Kauffman Stadium is a sight to see.  Beautiful fountains, a fantastic kids area with fun games and activities, tons of food options, and, if you’re lucky, a surprise visit in the stands by Sluggerrr make The K one of KC’s beloved sporting attractions.

5.  The Great Lenexa BBQ Battle — Lenexa offers a 2-day BBQ event in June with 185 contestants, 240 judges, children’s activities and live music (June 26-27).

6.  Lego Exhibit at Powell Gardens — nothing is cooler than life-size insects and sculpture completely made of LEGO’s at Nature Connects 2.

7.  If you’ll soon be an empty-nester, go ahead and prepare early for the college dorm life with items and furnishings from IKEA Merriam!

8.  Summer Sundays in Merriam!  Food, music, friends and neighbors joining together for Sunday dinner FOOD TRUCK style is the way to go for a laid-back weekend dinner party!

9.  Red, white and blue, we love you!  Merriam’s Flags 4 Freedom is a contender for the ABA’s Top 100 events across the U.S. and one you should plan to see if you’re in the neighborhood June 27 – July 5.  With over 1,200 U.S. flags on display, you’ll find yourself immersed in Old Glory right in downtown Merriam.

10.  Pianos on Parade!  This summer community art offering is so awesome, it’s a must-see while in KC. With 100 pianos across the metro just waiting for your visit, you’re sure to enjoy the parade and may even decide to tickle the ivories! Merriam’s “I Spy” piano is a seek and find variety located at the Merriam Marketplace, 5740 Merriam Drive.