Whether you’ve planned student trips for years or are just starting to take on the task, you know that the right destination is key. Plenty of activities, easy enough to get around, warm and welcoming are some of best qualities to consider when choosing a city to welcome your group.
St. Charles, Missouri, fits the bill to play host to student trips big and small. Just a 30-minute drive northwest of downtown St. Louis, you have the convenience of a big city but the charm and hospitality of a small town. St. Charles has a rich history and has played a part in shaping the United States as it is today.
Let this quaint, historic town welcome your student group as you explore, connect and enjoy. Check out these can’t miss places in St. Charles and beyond:
South Main Historic District (South Main Street – City of St. Charles)
In small towns, Main Street is often the gathering place for residents and visitors alike, and this is just what you’ll find in St. Charles. South Main Street has been named a historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Missouri’s first state capitol was in St. Charles and the site, which was restored in 1970, can be found along South Main. Those who have an appreciation for architecture will enjoy the varied styles spanning 150 years while walking the street. St. Charles Borromeo Church, with its beautiful vertical log construction in a French colonial style, was recently rebuilt by hand with period tools in the manner of the 18th century. Inside are ongoing educational demonstrations of the building techniques and displays on the architectural style of the early French colonists. Be sure to bring along your camera because the photo opportunities are endless.
Historic Downtown District (North Main Street – City of St. Charles)
South Main Street grew and extended north into what is now the historic Downtown District on North Main. In the quantity and quality of original architecture in such an arrangement along one street, this area is unique among the nation’s historic districts. Take a stroll through this impressive area near the river and perhaps visit one of its cafes or restaurants. The Katy Trail (Missouri’s celebrated rails-trails project) parallels the street, which is a great place to take in the beauty of the mighty Missouri River that flows through St. Charles. The trail, extending 200 miles across the state, is open to bikers, walkers, and joggers year-round.
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Frenchtown Historic District (City of St. Charles)
You don’t need to leave Missouri to find some of the best examples of French colonial style architecture – in fact, it’s right in the Frenchtown Historic District. The district is home to the Midwest’s largest concentration of French Colonial architecture. Constructed between 1820 and 1850, the buildings feature an extended main roof over raised, galleried front porches and double front doors. Homes and commercial buildings dot the neighborhood, and you can stroll in and out of the antiques shops while searching for relics from the past. Art enthusiasts can check out the Foundry Art Centre, which was once a train car factory but has now been transformed into a massive space with a great hall, exhibition space with works by more than 20 artists. For history buffs, the Frenchtown Museum and Research Center displays memorabilia and is also a research facility for those interested in learning more about the people, buildings, and businesses in the district.
Historic Missouri Wine Country (St. Charles County – Defiance, Augusta)
While St. Charles offers plenty to explore in town, you’ll want to plan excursions that feature the scenic beauty of the surrounding countryside. From a visit to the Daniel Boone Home at Lindenwood Park, which brings the story of Daniel Boone to life and recreates the frontier experience, to an exploration in agritourism at one of the local wineries, to a visit to Broemmelsiek Park and it’s unique Astronomy Viewing Area, you should plan a daytrip to discover St. Charles County.
Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center (City of St. Charles)
When in St. Charles, you can’t miss the grandeur of the Missouri River. Luckily, it’s just a stone’s throw from the center of town. If you’re looking for a fun way to experience this natural beauty, head to the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center, which is situated beside the Missouri River at Bishop’s Landing. Here you’ll find exhibits relating to the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as the Missouri River ecosystem – another educational experience to add to your group tour that is also plenty of fun. On the upper level is a museum and trading post, featuring dioramas on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Native American displays and Missouri River habitats they encountered during their journey. On the lower level, there are full-scale replicas of the boats used by Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery.
Consider planning your student trip around one of the annual events in St. Charles, such as the Fete de Glace… ice carving competition, Riverfest…Fourth of July celebration, Christmas Traditions®, or one of our cultural heritage festivals, Missouri River Irishfest and Oktoberfest.