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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Missouri: Show Me 
the Meetings

Missouri’s midsized cities might surprise meeting planners with their mix of sophisticated attractions and local lore, coupled with a variety of properties and innovative off-site venues for events and team building.

Award-winning wineries, Broadway-style theater, championship golf and colorful museums are just a few of the available activities. And each city is easy to reach from a major airport but retains its small-town vibe and genuine Midwestern hospitality, which makes for productive meetings and a refreshing stay.



Branson touts more theater seats than New York City’s Broadway district. And that’s not all: Family-friendly theme parks, three pristine lakes, outdoor recreation, championship golf and fabulous shopping and dining are all part of the mix.

“Meeting planners like our variety of attractions and properties,” said Deborah Cohen, director of meeting and convention sales at the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Every hotel has a different feel and location, and groups often pick different properties each year for a completely different experience.”

New this year, Silver Dollar City’s $8 million development Fireman’s Landing adds additional rides and attractions to the theme park. Big Cedar Lodge’s Cedar Creek Spa combines cottage-style charm with rustic elegance. Coming this fall, the Outdoor Academy by Bass Pro is developing a 1,200-acre paradise for hiking, fishing, sport shooting, archery and target practice.

Among Branson’s many properties, the Branson Convention Center, located just steps away from Branson Landing, offers 220,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 47,000 square-foot exhibit hall and ballroom. Connected to the Hilton Convention Center Hotel with 293 rooms, it’s across the street from the Hilton Promenade, which has 242 rooms.

Branson’s AAA Four-Diamond Chateau on the Lake Resort and Spa underwent a 2014 renovation and features 43,500 square feet of meeting space, including a 32,000-square-foot ballroom. Many of the hotel’s 301 guest rooms have panoramic lake views.

Tucked into the Ozark hills, Big Cedar Lodge offers 246 accommodations, from standard rooms to upscale cabins, plus 19,427 square feet of meeting space, a full-service marina, horseback riding, two new world-class golf courses and the Arnold Palmer Practice Facility.

One-of-a-kind off-site venues in Branson include the Showboat Branson Belle, where receptions on the top deck can be chartered for up to 750 people. The Titanic Museum Attraction hosts progressive dinners with in-character passengers telling stories of the fated voyage. Secluded Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve is perfect for outdoor team building, chuckwagon dinners and picnics. And a Branson Landing pub crawl is a new activity this year.


St. Charles

As Missouri’s first capital in the early 1800s, St. Charles offers small-town ambiance with big-city amenities, award-winning meeting facilities and four-star hotels. Within shouting distance, the mighty Missouri rolls by while visitors stroll or bike the paved, river path. In the evenings, gas street lamps bathe patios and brick courtyards in this community just 10 minutes west of Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

At one end of the historic district, the Foundry Art Centre showcases working artists in studio space in a 1900s railroad car factory. On-site exhibition galleries rotate shows that span mixed media to Norman Rockwell. The Grand Hall accommodates up to 400 guests in 6,000 square feet of space. Another popular option, the Grand Opera House Banquet Center on Main Street accommodates up to 200 guests.

In nearby Missouri wine country, Chandler Hill Vineyards can host 150 to 200 people on their expansive hillside deck and indoor patio that overlooks the river valley. Award-winning Montelle Winery also offers dining and meeting options. Wine Country Gardens’ profusion of blooms surrounds extensive hillside patios, a new pavilion and indoor-outdoor space. Farther west, groups can explore the wineries, dining and boutiques of Augusta and Washington.

Also nestled in the countryside are Daniel Boone’s 1810 limestone home and restored Boonesfield Village. Both hold an unusual partnership with Lindenwood University that allows for hands-on programming from open-hearth cooking to black-powder shooting and an archaeological dig site.

The Saint Charles Convention Center has received the Prime Site Award for outstanding service and venue excellence for its 154,000-square-foot space that accommodates up to 3,000 people. The attached Embassy Suites Hotel offers 296 suites. Ameristar Resort Casino Spa has 400 suites with a conference center that features 21,000 square feet of meeting space, seven dining options, a full-service spa and nonstop entertainment.