One primary objective of meetings: Eliminate distractions and achieve focus to affect change.
Focus helps attendees retain information. A complete “digital detox” may not match up perfectly with the agenda or attendee preferences. Getting some relative peace and solitude to carefully consider the topics at hand is always the right choice.
Following are some Missouri standouts for getting attendees in tune with meeting content and focused on collaboration rather than distracted by their environment.
Holding Your Event in St. Louis
By its nature, St. Louis is an ideal destination for getting away from it all in an urban environment.
The city offers scores of free public attractions and a park system that is loaded with off-site meeting options. Forest Park is a great place to start your search for a back-to-nature meeting or event right in the middle of a major urban area.
“We’ve got a great outdoors scene in St. Louis, so it all depends on the planner and the experience they want to create,” said Anthony Paraino, director of communications for Explore St. Louis. “Forest Park is sort of like an oasis in the middle of the city, and home of the 1904 World’s Fair, water features, golf courses, tennis courts…but it also has our five key cultural institutions:
- The Missouri History Museum
- The Muny [amphitheater)
- Saint Louis Art Museum
- Saint Louis Science Center and the Saint Louis Zoo.”
All of the Forest Park attractions offer dedicated meeting space or are available for rental for large events.
Consider a visit to the Gateway Arch, which recently benefitted from a $380 renovation project that massively reformatted its grounds—which are great for outdoor events—and added a museum that tells the story of the iconic American city that is the symbol of the Westward Expansion.
Holding Your Events in Kansas City
Located just outside of the city, Powell Gardens offers a 900-acre botanical garden with a variety of group options. The gardens are a serene setting for holiday parties, with dinner buffet programs starting at $50 per person (50-person minimum) and corporate luncheons that start at $35 per person (30-person minimum and four-hour rental).
Powell Gardens in Kansas City
Other group-friendly outdoor K.C. venues, both serene and thrill-inducing, include the following:
- Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead: Located in the suburb of Overland Park, groups at this 12-acre expanse can fish with cane poles, mine for gold and ponder the finer points of bison and nearly 200 other animals. Group rental areas are available.
- Groups can volunteer as part of a teambuilding program at Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, undertaking activities such as restoring its prairie and general gardening, various seasonal activities and maintenance tasks. The facility also offers indoor meeting space and evening event rental spaces.
Holding Your Event in Saint Charles
The historic destination of St. Charles, known as the point of departure for the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804, still retains and markets its historic charm. More recently, however, the area has gained recognition as a wine country destination.
“The rolling hills surrounding the Missouri River Valley in Historic Missouri Wine Country make the ideal setting for a quick getaway,” said Joe Ward, director, Discover Saint Charles, MO. “From sipping award-winning wine in the vineyards overlooking the country’s first AVA [American Vinicultural Area] to sharing a bite to eat at a unique farm-to-table restaurant, the views and the flavors of the region are a great escape form the hustle of the daily grind.”
Groups wanting some decompression time among the vines can gather at Chandler Hill Vineyards, which is described by many as the region’s most refined winery, offering wines from Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon vineyards.
A view from a St Charles Winery
The facility has a dedicated events team and has accommodated groups like Novus, Monsanto and Rawlings, among other major corporations. Chandler Hill can accommodate small groups of 20 up to 300-person events with full food and beverage service.
Other notable wineries that are attuned to group outings include the following:
- Sugar Creek Winery, boasting its Birdlegs Blush wine and Judgement Tree Vodka and views of the Missouri River Valley.
- Defiance Ridge Vineyards, a 42-acre property serving its Defiance Ridge Pinot Rose and offering “vineyard-to-table” cuisine and several indoor and outdoor meeting locations.
- Montelle Winery, which features a private indoor meeting space and an outdoor deck for casual corporate get-togethers.
- Mount Pleasant Estates, the oldest winery in the Augusta Appellation, dating to 1859 and which offers a number of meeting rooms that enable it to accommodate large events.
- Balducci Vineyards, which can host corporate events ranging from awards dinners to staff meetings, all catered with the Italian cuisine that stems from the heritage of the winery owners.
- Noboleis Vineyards, offering multiple venues, such as the Winemaker’s Loft, the Vineyard Loft, the Barrel Cellar and a tented pavilion that can accommodate groups of up to 200 guests.
Holding Your Event in Springfield
Located in the Ozarks region of Southwestern Missouri, groups craving a digital detox can plug themselves in to some of the following nature-focused facilities to get a little “us time”:
- The Boathouse at Lake Springfield Park, which offers a small meeting room that can seat up to 80, with a full kitchen, a large deck and a lakeside setting in the 158-acre park.
- The Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center, which contains various themed gardens and an arboretum, as well as the 7.5-acre Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. The Botanical Center Meeting Rooms offer a warming kitchen, Wi-Fi and state-of-the-art audiovisual service, and its rooftop garden is also a popular setting for events.
- The Springfield Conservation Nature Center features naturalist-led tours and wildlife-viewing blinds, as well as an outdoor pavilion, 147-seat auditorium and a small meeting room.
- 37 North Expeditions is a new company that offers a variety of outdoor activities that can be tailored for groups. Options include waterfall hikes, fly-fishing, yoga, horseback riding and photography excursions, many of which can be combined with distillery or winery outings.
- The Leadership Ranch specializes in youth, college, church and business programs that reinforce the importance of self-motivation through teambuilding activities such as ropes courses and other outdoors endeavors.
- While Pythian Castle may not be a nature-focused facility, it does provide a serene setting in the middle of town with thick castle walls that shield groups from the outside world. The castle offers a number of meeting rooms and lunch and dinner corporate meeting packages.
The front of Pythian Castle
Holding Your Event in Jefferson City
Missouri’s capital city offers up three event facilities that provide a calming departure from the hectic toil of everyday life:
- Colonel Bolton Home, located five miles south of town on the Osage River, can accommodate groups from 10 to 200. The facility offers a main house with a catering-ready kitchen. Formal place settings are available at an additional cost, but the venue comes equipped with seasonal decorations.
- The Bolton Home’s Event Center seats up to 200 with full use of the grounds and an 1,800-square-foot event room. A bartender is not provided, however.
- The Capital Bluffs Event Center, in north Jefferson City, opened in 2018 and offers an elegant setting for indoor and outdoor weddings and special events. The space is located on the same property as a nine-hole par 3 and 18-hole miniature golf course.
Holding Your Event in Branson
While known as Missouri’s capital of country music entertainment, Branson is also a hitmaker when it comes to venues that can get attendees “in tune” with their natural surroundings. And while country music stars of past and present may find their names on the marquees, Branson’s Ozark Mountains location also deserves star billing.
Big Cedar Lodge, located on the shores of Table Rock Lake 10 miles south of Branson, is a rustic, elegant retreat complete with log cabins, meeting space with fireplaces and displays of animal taxidermy spread throughout the resort.
Billing itself as America’s Premier Wilderness Resort, Big Cedar may be surrounded by woods, but it’s far from backwoods. It also offers an 18,000-square-foot spa with an indoor grotto pool and conference facilities that can accommodate up to 1,000, including meeting rooms with fireplaces.
Some signature attributes at the 4,600-acre retreat owned by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris include Top of the Rock, with world-class golf, dining and entertainment, and Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a 10,000-acre nature park that provides an excellent setting for teambuilding programs and outdoor events.
Other notable Branson-area meeting venues that provide a nod to nature and wellness include the following:
- Chateau on the Lake, located 10 minutes from Branson and also on Table Rock Lake, this woodlands “castle” offers more than 53,000 square feet of meeting space and 19 meeting rooms. Outdoor and spaces include the Garden Terrace and Greenbelt Pavilion.
- The Branson Convention Center is full of natural light and windows that open up the Lake Taneycomo view, inspiring groups to even have yoga sessions in the hallways.
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St. Louis showcases a variety of off-site venues
Missouri CVB Contact Information
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Jefferson City CVB
Branson/Lakes Area CVB