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Missouri meetings by the river

Courtesy MissourI Div. of Tourism

St. Charles
The crown jewel of St. Charles, Mo., is its 10-block restored historic district a block from the Missouri River. The neighborhood dates to the 1800s, and more than 100 specialty shops, including Little Hills Winery and Trailhead Brewing Co., line its gas-lamp-lit brick streets.

“We’re a small city, but we have our wonderful historic district that is so quaint and charming that people love,” said Martha Little, director of sales for the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau. “That’s a big plus for us.”

In 1804, St. Charles was the final launching point for the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the city is “all about Lewis and Clark,” Little said.

“The Lewis and Clark scene is really big for us with our history,” Little said. “A lot of conventions and meetings that come to town will use that as the theme for their event.”

The third weekend in May each year, St. Charles hosts Lewis and Clark Heritage Days. The festival reenacts the Louisiana Purchase exploration and voyage to the Pacific Ocean and includes a parade, a military encampment, musket and cannon demonstrations and period music, food and wares.

The Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center, opened a decade ago on the river’s banks, has great views and can accommodate about 40 people for a meeting, or groups can book the entire venue for evening receptions.

About a mile from downtown, the 154,000-square-foot St. Charles Convention Center recently upgraded its lighting system and can now drape the walls and carpet the floors in the exhibit hall to “dress it up,” Little said.

In April, the Quality Inn and Suites finished renovating its 133 rooms and two meetings rooms. The hotel wil change flags and have a grand opening in June, Little said.

One of the city’s largest projects is the Streets of St. Charles, a 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use development that features retail and restaurants as well as offices and residential units.

Three restaurants recently opened as part of the first phase, among them Tucanos Brazilian Grill, which has a private room for up to 80 people. Construction has begun on the second phase, which will include a movie theater, condominiums and more retail space, and a hotelier has been making inquiries about the project’s third phase, Little said.