Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Destination: Inspiration for Religious Meetings

St. Cloud, Minnesota

An hour from Minnesota’s Twin Cities, St. Cloud provides a charming riverfront setting for religious meetings and conventions.

Meeting groups of all sizes can take advantage of the River’s Edge Convention Center on the Mississippi River. This state-of-the-art center was extensively renovated five years ago; 35,000 square feet of continuous exhibit floor was added for a total of 150,000 square feet of space. In addition, the facility and two connecting hotels are within walking distance of nearly 45 restaurants and shops.

“When people visit here, they can basically park their car, walk to the center and then walk around to the attractions,” said Nikki Fisher, convention and meetings sales manager at the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

After hours, visitors can wander through the city at their leisure or coordinate a guided tour through the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Occasionally, the mayor of St. Cloud or someone from the Heritage Preservation Commission will conduct a city tour showcasing notable landmarks such as the Cathedral of St. Mary and other historic buildings.

“What we like to do is plan a tour based around some of the churches in St. Cloud, since we have so many in the area,” said Fisher.

Groups can also visit St. John’s Abbey and University to tour the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, which displays a rare collection of religious art and manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages. The highlight of the museum is an illuminated Bible that was handwritten by a team of 21st-century artists.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For those in search of a true Southern getaway, Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge presents a vibrant spread of antebellum homes, world-class museums and hook-to-plate seafood restaurants. The city serves as an excellent hub-and-spoke destination for many areas along the Gulf Coast, drawing religious groups from Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Because of the many youth athletic teams that pass through the region, Baton Rouge is accustomed to hosting families and youth groups. Downtown hotels frequently accommodate groups that require double or quad occupancy, and there are many affordable restaurants that welcome groups, including local favorites like Mike Anderson’s Seafood, Ralph and Kacoo’s, Drusilla Seafood Restaurant and Juban’s Restaurant.

“The affordability factor is really important to the religious market segment,” said Karron Alford, director of marketing and technology at Visit Baton Rouge. “Baton Rouge really excels in making sure we have those options available.”

The city is mounting an $18.1 million renovation of the Raising Cane’s River Center, an exquisite event complex on the Mississippi riverfront that encompasses a 70,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, a 10,000-seat arena and a performing-arts theater. It is estimated that the project will be complete in late 2019 or early 2020.

Visiting attendees will appreciate Baton Rouge’s convenient layout, which places nearly 1,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center. This proximity enables attendees to take full advantage of hotel amenities such as complimentary parking, breakfast and airport shuttle services.

Beyond the meeting facilities, the city offers a wide range of attractions for families; highlights include the castlelike Old Louisiana State Capitol, the Blue Bayou and Dixie Landing water park, the Baton Rouge Zoo and the Knock Knock Children’s Museum. There are also several historic estates in the surrounding region, like Myrtles Plantation and Houmas House Plantation.