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Recreation, Tourism & Entertainment

Whatever kind of recreation you seek, chances are it’s nearby in St. Charles County.

The county is consistently ranked among the healthiest in Missouri, and for good reason. It offers an abundance of fitness, sporting and outdoor activities, as well as entertainment and events and attractions to draw tourists.

From modern shopping developments to dining options that run the gamut of cuisines and atmospheres, the greater St. Charles area has more excitement to offer than one could ever fit on a calendar – not to mention the scenic trails that all but pick you up off the couch and thrust you into Mother Nature’s inviting arms.

Parks and Activities

A healthy community is an active community, and St. Charles County is proof positive. Area park districts extend opportunities for all ages in the areas of group and independent exercise; dance; swim; gymnastics; BMX biking; field, rink and court sports; cycling; fishing and much more. There’s even a community garden.

Hikes and Bikes

In terms of trails, the Katy Trail State Park from St. Charles to Clinton is a true gem. This 225-mile trail is a favorite among outdoor aficionados for biking, running or hiking along bluffs and wooded areas.

There’s also the Great Rivers Greenway – a network of parks and open spaces linked by greenways. The system links the public to rivers, parks and communities in St. Charles County, St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis.

Pop into the Bike Stop Café in St. Charles for some serious multi-tasking: check out the bike shop that offers rentals, services and accessories while grabbing a cup of Joe. Another place that will equip you for the trails is Katy Bike Rental, with locations in Defiance and Augusta. This store offers bike, cart and tandem rentals; parts, accessories and apparel; repairs and maintenance; state park souvenirs; and refreshments. In addition, the store offers shuttle service to drive you to the other end of the trail or even on a winery tour!

Entertainment and Music

If the creative vibe of live music suits your style, there are many local outlets and venues.

You can find live music on the second Wednesday of every month May through September at StreetsFest, located in the Streets of St. Charles shopping and entertainment development.

Or try Music on the Main every third Wednesday of the month, May through September, in downtown St. Charles. Bring your lawn chairs to this free outdoor concert series, which runs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. along North Main Street.

And if you find yourself with a free Thursday, be sure to check out the St. Charles Municipal Band Summer Concert Series in Frontier Park.

Finally, after a long work week, you just want to unwind and have a good time. The City of St. Peters offers a free summer concert series – Sunset Fridays at 370 Lakeside Park from May through August. Enjoy great music in a winery-style, date-night atmosphere that makes for a relaxing Friday evening along the lake. The Corporate Pavilion seats more than 300 guests comfortably on outdoor furniture and provides a large courtyard and grassy area for extra seating if you’d like to bring your lawn chairs and blankets.

While the wineries in St. Charles County are open year-round, you can easily find live music and entertainment from April through October. There’s no better way to spend a lazy weekend day than with a live music, a picnic lunch and fine wine.Whether you’re looking for a trail to explore or a swing to soar on, numerous outdoor facilities in the greater St. Charles County area beckon the public to come out and play. Here’s a list of some of the highlights:

City of St. Charles

Discovery Playground at Jaycee Park: this popular destination is home to an all-inclusive playground with a water feature. The playground utilizes the natural hillside of the park and includes several play areas, swings, roller and metal slides (for those with cochlear implants), and musical play features.

Katy Depot in Frontier Park: this 1893 historic landmark is restored and located along the Katy Trail. This spot is a popular, scenic backdrop for wedding and senior photos. Having been recently renovated, the south end of the Katy Depot seats 49 guests and is rentable spring through fall.

Motorcycle Training Facility: The St. Charles’s park district’s Ranger Division offers a Motorcycle Safety Program that began in 1997 and is taught by Motorcycle Safety Foundation Certified Instructors who have taught more than 13,000 students so far.

Wapelhorst, Blanchette and McNair aquatic facilities: thanks to the passing of Proposition P for Parks and Stormwater, fresh projects on the horizon for 2018 include a new Blanchette Aquatic Facility as well as a renovation of Wapelhrost.

St. Peters

The City of St. Peters has 25 parks covering about 1,300 acres and more than 20 miles of pedestrian/bike trails. Other amenities include playgrounds, picnic shelters and pavilions, athletic fields, a golf course, an archery range, a BMX track, an outdoor fitness area, two wedding gazebos, fishing ponds, an outdoor pool and dog park. Parks include the following:

The St. Peters Rec-Plex: this recreational site consists of the original Rec-Plex facility and the newer Rec-Plex South. Features include an indoor track, indoor pools, ice rink, basketball/volleyball gym, and fitness classrooms. Rec-Plex South includes two more ice rinks, a gymnasium, and a multipurpose gym.

City Centre Park: these 78 acres of natural beauty include a serene pond with lush landscaping, mature trees and decorative waterfall, as well as a gazebo. For recreation, it offers baseball diamonds, a soccer/football field, trails, an inclusive playground and an outdoor amphitheater for music and performing arts. This park is also home to a veterans’ memorial.

The newest and largest park in is 370 Lakeside Park. With more than 300 acres, it includes a 140-acre recreational lake with fishing and boating, a walking trail surrounding the lake, and a campground with 75 RB sites and group tent camping. It also has a playground, family picnic areas, pavilions, sand volleyball, an archery range and the St. Peters Rotary Dog Park.

St. Charles County

The St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department offers unique parks and facilities and a range of programs and special events, in addition to features that enhance the region’s historical and natural environmental heritage. Amenities include picnic shelters, camping facilities and indoor lodges that can host weddings, family functions and business conferences. Some noteworthy facilities are as follows:

Quail Ridge Lodge in Wentzville: this 3,600-square-foot lodge accommodates up to 188 guests for wedding receptions, organization banquets, family parties and other events. The rentable facility features a vaulted ceiling and a wooden deck that overlooks a nearby lake and gazebo.

Klondike Park in Augusta: this 250-acre park features more than 4 miles of trails. Once the site of an old silica sand quarry, the area has been preserved and turned into parkland with a lookout bluff that provides views of the Missouri River Valley and the Katy Trail. It is also a popular camping retreat, offering a fishing lake surrounded by white sand beaches, birding/wildlife area, playgrounds and more.

The Heritage Museum at Heritage Park in St. Peters: this nearly 6,000-square-foot facility offers free, large displays focusing on local and state history. The current exhibit, “Our Sporting Heritage,” celebrates recreation by showcasing the history of hunting and fishing both locally and statewide. The exhibit features a Marksman Training Simulator, an interactive digital hunting simulator that has the largest video shooting surface in the world and is one of only three of its kind in the United States.

Work is underway to build on the property formerly known as Sammelmann Farm in Weldon Spring. While most county parks are designed to be driven to in rural settings, this new 120-acre park is surrounded by residential development. Highlights include a walking and biking trail; an accessible playground that encompasses social/emotional, physical, sensory, cognitive and communication development; an interactive water play area; climbing features; a hill slide; two lakes stocked with fish; an off-leash dog park; picnic shelters and more. Rivers are a true wonder of nature. Their majestic beauty has inspired countless poets, painters, artists – and regular Joes. They continue a centuries-old method of transportation. And they present the perfect getaway, for either respite and play, while providing a breathtaking backdrop to watch nature at work, to cast a line or to drop a canoe.

The St. Charles area is home to two of the state’s largest rivers: the Mighty Mississippi and its tributary, the Missouri – the longest river in the country.

Flowing from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River is a transportation artery that is an integral part of the heart of the city and with a deep history. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto first laid claim to the river in 1541, with French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette following up in the 17th century and actually reaching as far as St. Charles County.

The Mississippi was essential to the nation’s growth during the Industrial Revolution, proved to be a key strategic resource during the Civil War, and remains the primary source of drinking water for the region. Until the mid 19th century, both rivers were the primary routes of transportation in the Midwest – mainly by canoe, keelboat or steamboat. The railroad arrived in St. Charles County in the 1850s and became the major mode of travel until paved roads began being built in the 1920s.

As for the Missouri River, it drains nearly one-sixth of the area of the United States. First fully explored by Lewis and Clark, the Missouri River winds across a whopping 530,000 square miles in North America. It extends from the Rocky Mountains east to the basin of the Mississippi.

Today, the rivers do far more than provide transportation. Residents rely on them to generate hydroelectric power and to serve as major recreational attractions in the St. Charles region.

Fishing is by far the biggest sport here. But there are other activities, as well. For example, the Missouri is home to a boat race across the entire state every August. The 340-mile journey, called the Missouri American Water MR340, ends in St. Charles. Participants are allowed 88 hours to complete the course.

If a shorter trip is more your style, check out Missouri River Excursions in Defiance. It offers canoe, kayak, or large-raft rentals for those looking to float the Missouri River on half- or full-day trips.

Its counterpart, the Mississippi, is home to a wide array of fish and wildlife and is a major migratory flyway for many birds. Located at Confluence Point State Park is the 4,300-acre Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, which offers hunting, fishing, hiking, biking and bird-watching.

Boating and yachting are big here, as evidenced by the number of marinas. The river’s island beaches create a picturesque setting where recreational boaters often throw parties.

The Yacht Club of St. Louis sits on the Dardenne Slough. Members enjoy a private pool, two dining rooms, a riverside patio and live music. Further downstream, Palisades Marina & Yacht Club is a public boating and social club in Portage Des Sioux. The shrine to Our Lady of the Rivers can be seen downstream. In addition, John’s Boat Harbor is a full-service marina offering docking, dry storage, repairs and more.

Truly, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the river life in St. Charles County. Outdoors and on the Trails Quality of life is a major reason why people visit and even move to St. Charles County. Nature and green space play a pivotal role here, attracting folks from across state lines even. Good for a leisurely stroll as well as more rigorous hikes, local paths are a big draw for those who seek to bask in the great outdoors.

Great Rivers Greenway

The Great Rivers Greenway is a network of parks and open spaces linked by greenways. It was created to connect the public more easily to rivers, parks and communities in St. Charles County, St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis. Created in 2000 after a citizen vote, the idea was to establish a community asset for generations to come. That vote created a sales tax that funds construction and maintenance of the greenway district.

The biggest boon to the greenway lately has been all about bridges: construction has begun on bicycle and pedestrian bridges over highways 364 and 94 in St. Charles. To do so, the existing Centennial Greenway that links Heritage Park and the Katy Trail State Park will be extended to connect thousands of residents on both sides of the community.

Plans call for a one-mile extension of the existing 2.2-mile Centennial Greenway just east of the Heritage Museum. The paved greenway will head north and cross both highways, where it will connect to Old Highway 94 near Muegge Road. The new route will enable on-street connections to several nearby parks, as well as the McClay Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library and two schools.

“This is a game-changing connection for people in the City of St. Charles, St. Charles County and beyond,” said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann. “By bridging these two highways, thousands of people who live, work, and go to school in this area will now be able to safely walk or ride a bike to get where they need to go.”

In addition, the greenway expansion will have a rest stop landscaped with native plants.

August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area

The nearly 7,000-acre August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area serves as the St. Louis regional Missouri Department of Conservation office and includes a visitor center. Fishing and hunting licenses are available here for use in roughly 30 lakes and ponds. Boat rentals are a big draw, as are managed deer hunts. Other outdoors attractions include hiking, picnicking, bird-watching areas, a shooting range, an archery range and prairie restoration spots.

Katy Trail State Park

Another popular spot is the Katy Trail, which is a state park and a major attraction in the area. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can bike, run or hike along river bluffs and wooded areas. The Katy Trail is a 225-mile recreation rail trail that runs from St. Charles, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, to Clinton, about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City.

Hardcore riding enthusiasts hit “the Mound,” which is a starting point for rides that connect to the Katy Trail. From there, they visit three parks (called the trifecta): Lost Valley, Matson Hill and Klondike Park, according to Ralph Pfremmer, executive director of Trailnet.

City and County Parks and Greenways

The St. Charles County Parks System is one of Pfremmer’s personal favorites. Don’t miss taking time to explore Lost Valley Trail in the Weldon Spring Conservation Area, located near Chesterfield. It features a Little Femme Osage Creek and a crystal-clear spring, and visitors often cross paths with deer and turkeys. Other trails not to be missed include Matson Hill Park Trail in Defiance and Augusta’s Klondike Park Trial, which features bluffs and a gorgeous lake.

Multi-use trails in St. Charles County that permit horseback riding as well as hiking and biking are open at Broemmelsiek Park and Indian Camp Creek Park. The City of St. Charles offers trails of various lengths and surfaces in 11 different parks, in addition to the paved 3.8-mile hike and bike Boschert Greenway.

Not to be overlooked, Centennial Greenway is a 20-mile track that connects people to nature as an off-street bicycle and pedestrian trail and linear park. It runs from St. Charles County to downtown St. Louis, offering a direct connection to the paved Creve Coeur Connector trail that takes you across the Missouri River and links up with the paved trails and other attractions in Creve Coeur County Park.

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