Meet Me In Meridian 

Summer fun in Idaho's second city

Gone are the days when we thought a trip from Boise to Meridian required a travel plan. Even here at Boise Weekly, we've been guilty of referring to destinations in the city as "worth the drive," as though it's a world away. Growth of both cities has brought them closer together, their noses nearly touching as dairy farms between the two have made way for neighborhoods, retail outlets, restaurants, businesses and, of course, go-to fun spots Roaring Springs Waterpark and Meridian Speedway.

Now the second largest city in Idaho, Meridian is inhabited by people both native to the area and transplanted, who choose to live in the bedroom community because of the quality of life it affords. During the summer, that quality is enriched by the Meridian Parks and Recreation Department, the mission of which is to "enhance the community's quality of life by providing well-designed and properly maintained parks and recreational opportunities for all citizens." This summer, if you can't find one of those citizens, they're probably at the park.

Every Friday, June 6-Aug. 29

Movie Night in Meridian

Watch movies like Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, The Nut Job and more for free, under the stars with a few hundred of your closest friends at Settlers Park. Visit meridiancity.org/movienight for a full schedule of flicks.

Monday, June 16-

Saturday, June 21

Meridian Dairy Days

For 85 years, the city of Meridian has celebrated dairy, an industry vital to the area's well-being and the livelihood of many an Idahoan. Dairy Days is a down-home celebration complete with a carnival, parade, pancake feed, cattle and goat show, and more. Get details and a full schedule at dairydays.org.

Saturday, June 28

Barn Sour Fun Run

This 10K, 6K, or 1-mile fun run is good for participants but, more importantly, helps Meridian Parks and Rec's Care Enough to Share initiative, which offers scholarships to recreation programs for to low-income Meridian kids. Register at meridiancity.org/barnsour.

Saturdays, June 28, July 19, Aug. 9 and Aug. 30

Concerts on Broadway

Bask in the big sounds of Kevin Kirk and Onomatopoeia, Kings of Swing and High Street at Meridian City Hall Plaza. Concerts are free and begin at 7 p.m.

Beyond special events, Meridian Parks and Rec offers enough youth and adult activities to keep the entire family busy all summer long.

Even preschoolers (ages 18 months-3 years and 3-5 years) can build brain and body with Preschool Fun and Preschool Fun Plus. The eight-week classes will help children enhance awareness in a variety of areas, including citizenship, motor skills, listening, transitioning, spatial awareness and more, using arts and crafts, song, creative movement and storytelling to help them.

Preschoolers and gradeschoolers alike can begin what may become a lifelong love of martial arts. Martial Arts for Kids, taught by Family Tang SooDo, is a great first step for 5- to 8-year-olds. Kids will learn basic techniques, self-defense, concentration and discipline, all of which contribute to an increased confidence. For the 7- to 14-year-olds, Shoshin Ryu for Beginners is a "complete system of martial arts that places emphasis on physical and mental skills required for self-defense and personal growth." Classes are noncompetitive and teach techniques such as strikes, blocks, joint locks and manipulations.

Tennis, anyone? From Tiny Tots Tennis to Junior Tennis Lessons, kids of all ages can get ready for the courts. Or make some happy campers with one-week or all-summer at Camp Mer-Ida-Moo. Give your own little Picasso an outlet with classes like Wonders of Watercolor, Beginning Art Creativity or Animal Drawing and Painting. Your budding Ai Weiwei may find the building blocks to architecture in Lego Story Adventures, and your little Stan Lee might find the perfect way to channel some cartoon creativity in the Superhero Cartoon Workshop. If your student is already showing a sartorial side, enroll them in the Fashion Runway Workshop; or let your mini Magellan explore the globe in the Worldly Artistic Designs Pastels Workshop. If Broadway is your kid's calling, the Outdoor Summer Musical Theatre might set them on the path to the Great White Way.

Summer activities aren't only for the kids. The young-at-heart can join the young in everything from the Beginner Ukulele Group Class to North African and Middle Eastern Dance to Making Ben's Bells, a community art project in which participants make windchimes to promote everyday kindness (more info at bensbells.org). Or, while the teens are learning MIT-designed Scratch Programming in the Game Programming for Kids class, the adults can reap the benefits of relaxation in the Yoga Nidra Meditation Workshop; get their cowboy on in the Line Dance class; or learn how to really enjoy Idaho's natural resources in the Inflatable Kayak Clinic. And, it wouldn't be summer without Adult Co-Ed Dodgeball, Softball and Volleyball Leagues.

You can find class and registration information online at meridiancity.org/activityguide and at facebook.com/MeridianParksandRecreation.

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