The word “suburb” can carry connotations of subservience to a major metropolitan area, but when you’re the third-oldest city west of the Mississippi and played a starring role in the westward expansion of the U.S., you can certainly sing your own praises confidently.
Of course, being located about 20 miles from all of the amenities offered by St. Louis also only amplifies the allure of Saint Charles, Mo., set on the banks of the Missouri River and boasting a 10-block-long historic district with some 100 specialty shops and 30 restaurants that make it an easily digestible meetings destination.
According to Martha Little, director of sales for the Saint Charles CVB, the city typically draws in-state and regional association groups, corporations that call the St. Louis area home, and reunion groups.
“Groups love us because there’s so much to do here,” Little says, “and we always encourage our groups to take in St. Louis, which is close, because there’s so much to do there that is free.”
The city’s historic, brick-lined downtown—with free parking throughout—provides an easy-to-navigate base for groups, which often work with the CVB’s convention services manager to set up progressive dinners. Other highlights of the downtown area include the Trailhead Brewing Company and the Little Hills Restaurant & Winery.
Major Saint Charles meeting facilities include the St. Charles Convention Center, with 153,000 square feet of space, which is attached to an Embassy Suites hotel with 296 suites; and the Ameristar Casino, Resort & Spa, a AAA Four Diamond property with 400 suites and a conference center with 19,000 square feet of space.
Besides traveling to nearby St. Louis, Little says many groups opt for an excursion to Missouri Wine Country, located 30 minutes from town and featuring about 10 wineries, many of which offer reception areas or can accommodate dinners. Wine excursions are also popular for spouse programs, she adds.
According to Little, the most popular seasons for a visit to Saint Charles are in the spring and fall, when the weather is more pleasant than the typically humid Midwestern summers.