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Everything to Know about Living in St. Charles, MO

Nestled on the banks of the Missouri River, St. Charles, Missouri, is a city that blends its rich history with modern life.

Being the third-oldest city in the state, it offers a unique experience that combines the charm of the past with the convenience of contemporary amenities. From its picturesque communities to its lively cultural scene, Saint Charles is not just a place to live but an invitation to experience life in all its facets.

The Rich History of St. Charles Along The Missouri River

St. Charles was established around 1769 by Louis Blanchette, a French-Canadian fur trader. At the time, it was known as Les Petites Côtes, which means “The Little Hills.” 

Originally a French territory west of the Mississippi River, Les Petites Côtes came under Spanish rule after France lost the Seven Years’ War and ceded its eastern lands to Great Britain. 

Saint Charles was mainly inhabited by French-speaking settlers from Canada in its early years.

In 1804, it served as the final outpost of civilization for the Lewis and Clark Expedition before they ventured upriver to explore the western territories gained through the Louisiana Purchase. 

Historic Main Street St. Charles, MO
Historic Main Street St. Charles, MO

Saint Charles is recognized as the third oldest city in Missouri and was a major river port in America’s journey westward, engaging in trade with Native American tribes along the upper Missouri River.

The city’s historical significance is evident on every corner, especially along the famed Historic Main Street. This area showcases 19th-century architecture, where every building has a unique story. 

The Main Street area is a beacon of the city’s history. It is known for its brick-lined streets, boutiques, and entertainment, highlighting how history shapes the city’s present-day charm.

Map of St Charles, MO

Homes and Neighborhoods in St. Charles, MO

St. Charles boasts many homes and communities that reflect the city’s rich historical heritage.

You can choose from a diverse range of housing options that cater to various preferences and lifestyles. Saint Charles has everything to offer whether you’re looking for the charm of historic homes, the sleek modernity of new constructions, or the distinctive character of different communities. 

St. Charles stands out for its ability to cater to people with different lifestyles. It offers a place for anyone, including young professionals, families, and retirees. 

With numerous parks, schools, shopping centers, and cultural attractions, each area of Saint Charles contributes to a fulfilling life.

New Town St. Charles

New Town St. Charles

New Town is a neo-traditional community with a small-town atmosphere and innovative design. It boasts diverse architectural styles such as colonial, craftsman, and coastal-inspired homes. 

The neighborhood is a prime example of urban planning that promotes community interaction and walkability. The homes range from cozy cottages to grand estates, catering to singles, growing families, and retirees. 

The central features of New Town are:

  • Green Spaces
  • Water Elements 
  • Canals
  • Lakes
  • Expansive Parks

The New Town neighborhood is self-sufficient, with amenities like a general store, cafés, and various dining options. It remains one of the most desirable places to live in St. Charles.

Heritage Neighborhood

The Heritage neighborhood is appropriately named as it is imbued with a rich history that can be seen in its preserved architecture and cobblestone charm. 

It is a perfect place for those who appreciate historical charm, as the houses near Main Street and downtown St. Charles provide an opportunity to live in a piece of history, updated with modern comforts and conveniences. 

The streets are lined with Victorian and brick colonial homes, often featuring lush gardens and stately front porches.

These homes evoke a bygone era and attract residents who value architectural richness and historic preservation. 

Heritage is about more than just visual appeal. It also offers a vibrant community life with easy access to Main Street cultural landmarks, local boutiques, and diverse dining options.


Distinguished by its arts scene and cultural vibrancy, Frenchtown boasts a collection of unique historic homes, art studios, and galleries. It’s a melting pot of artisans and creatives, reflected in the neighborhood’s diverse architectural styles, from historic frame houses to larger brick residences. 

The sense of community is palpable during the many local celebrations like the Frenchtown ArtWalk, where the streets come alive with color and activity. Living in Frenchtown means embracing a lifestyle rich in culture and creativity.

In St. Charles, every neighborhood tells its own story, contributing to a mosaic of community life. Whether your preference leans towards the historic or the contemporary, the city’s neighborhoods offer various living options that cater to different tastes, lifestyles, and stages of life. 

The homes in each area reflect the architectural diversity and rich history of the city and echo the community spirit intrinsic to the character of St. Charles.

New Construction in St. Charles

If you’re drawn to the allure of modern living, St. Charles is the place to be. According to county data, St. Charles County accounted for nearly 40% of the single-family housing permits on the Missouri side of the St. Louis metro area during 2023.

O’Fallon ranked highest, boasting the most permits, followed by St. Charles City and Wentzville.

Charlestowne Landing

This housing development is situated near the lake close to New Town and Main Street.

Example home at Charlestowne Landing by T.R Hughes
Example of a home at Charlestowne Landing by T.R Hughes

The subdivision is brand new and the houses have a tremendous curb appeal and is located in a highly-rated school district. is great. I graduated in 2012 and have a lot of family history within the school..

Lifestyle and Leisure: The Heart of St. Charles

The lifestyle in St. Charles is a tapestry of historical charm and modern leisure:

Historic Main Street of Downtown St. Charles, MO

Historic Main Street, Downtown St. Charles, MO

In the 19th century, St. Charles was a bustling hub for early explorers and pioneers looking for supplies. Today, those historic paths are still trodden as visitors meander down the brick-lined streets of the Nationally Registered Historic District. 

The buildings that once sold basic necessities to fur traders now house unique shops offering:

  • The Enchanted Attic – unique gemstone jewelry, metaphysical books, incense, and candles
  • The Flower Petaler – home decor and accessories, framed art & mirrors
  • First Capitol Trading Post – jewelry and gift shop
  • Grandma’s Cookies – Voted #1 Dessert and #1 Specialty Shop in St. Charles
  • Olde Towne Spice Shoppe – A family-run spice shop

As you can see, Main Street is a treasure trove of shops for those seeking the perfect gift or a special treat for themselves.

Accommodations with Historical Charm

St. Charles’ Main Street has provided cozy accommodations for many visitors, including early explorers, influential statesmen, and steamboat captains for over two centuries. 

In the past, a french Canadian fur trader might have dined at local favorites like Eckert’s Tavern or The Western House. Now you can stay at one of several bed and breakfasts in the historic downtown St. Charles neighborhood.

  • Boone’s Colonial Inn – a 19th century house, located in the heart of Main Street.
  • Boone’s Lick Trail Inn – located just 50 yards away from where Lewis and Clark once made camp.
  • Inn Frenchtown – A converted historic french colonial house with Missouri River views.

Dining Experiences for Every Taste

Present-day visitors to Main Street in St. Charles have many dining options, with over 25 restaurants.

Whether you’re craving BBQ, tapas, or anything in between, you’ll find a restaurant to satisfy your taste buds. The dining settings vary, from quaint patios and establishments with historic charm to local pubs and coffee houses. You can even grab take-out for a picturesque picnic on the riverfront.

Here are a few of the best spots:

  • Bella Vinos – high end wines, elaborate tapas
  • Mill Stream – home decor and accessories, framed art & mirrors
  • Tony’s on Main Street – 20 year old Italian/American Steakhouse with a great deck overlooking Main Street
  • Novellus – a new breakfast and lunch place 
  • Salt + Smoke – Slow-smoked BBQ, fresh and flavorful sides all homemade from scratch
  • Lewis and Clark’s – A 26 year old American restaurant

Annual Events in St. Charles

St. Charles, Missouri, has a lively and celebratory spirit reflected in the diverse range of events that occur throughout the year. These festivals are a great way to unite the community and attract visitors. 

Each event adds to the city’s cultural vibrancy by showcasing the area’s history and communal pride.


The Fourth of July is celebrated in grand style with Riverfest. This event has become synonymous with St. Charles’ Independence Day celebrations. The Missouri River serves as the backdrop for various activities, including live music, a carnival, and food vendors serving traditional and innovative fare.

Riverfest culminates in a spectacular fireworks display over the riverfront drawing families and individuals to the city’s riverbanks for a collective expression of patriotism and community.

The festival’s legacy as a gathering spot for residents and an attraction for tourists underlines the city’s dedication to honoring American traditions while showcasing its local charm.


St. Charles takes on a distinctly Bavarian atmosphere each fall with its Oktoberfest celebrations, held in Frontier Park. The event salutes the city’s German heritage, offering something for everyone:

  • German Music and dancing
  • Extensive beer options
  • 5K run
  • Dachshund races
  • Beer stein-holding competitions

Oktoberfest provides an opportunity for cultural appreciation and contributes economically to the area by attracting visitors eager to experience a slice of Europe in the heart of Missouri.

Saint Charles Christmas Traditions

The holiday season in St. Charles is a magical time, thanks in large part to the Saint Charles Christmas Traditions festival. During this time, Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland with characters from Christmas lore, carolers, and horse-drawn carriages. 

The event starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas Eve, providing a lengthy celebration that beckons visitors to step back in time and experience holiday cheer with an old-world twist. 

The festival not only celebrates the season but also highlights the historical ambiance of Main Street, reinforcing the city’s identity as a place where history comes alive.

Legends & Lanterns

In October, as the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to fall, the Legends & Lanterns festival offers a Halloween experience. This event takes participants on a “spirited” journey through history, featuring encounters with folklore characters and authors who have shaped the season’s traditions. 

Main Street again provides the perfect setting, with its historic backdrop lending an air of authenticity to the ghostly goings-on. Legends & Lanterns is not just about frights but about fostering a connection to the cultural origins of Halloween, offering an educational element to the spooks and scares.

Festival of the Little Hills

Honoring the city’s founding name, Les Petites Côtes, the Festival of the Little Hills is Saint Charles’ largest festival.

Held annually in August, it features over 300 arts and craft vendors, food stalls, and live music, making it a shopper’s and foodie’s paradise. Frontier Park and Main Street are filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of this lively festival, which also offers activities for children, making it a family affair.

The Festival of the Little Hills showcases the best local and regional craftsmanship and serves as a key event for the local economy.

Music on Main

On the third Wednesday of each month, from May to September, Music on Main brings people together through the power of live music.

Local bands take to the streets of Historic Main Street, turning the area into a free concert venue where people can dance, dine, and soak in the evening atmosphere.

Each event is themed, adding an element of fun and spontaneity to the midweek routine. Music on Main celebrates the city’s artistic talents and indicates the value placed on communal leisure and the arts.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

A nod to the Irish influence in Saint Charles, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a spirited event that paints the town green every March.

The parade features decorative floats, bands, and marchers dressed in green, celebrating Irish heritage and bringing a lively atmosphere to the city streets.

St. Charles’ St. Patrick’s Day celebration also allows local organizations to showcase the collaborative spirit that thrives within the city.

The array of festivals and celebrations in St. Charles is a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its heritage.

Each celebration provides an opportunity for residents to come together in shared experiences and plays an integral role in drawing visitors and enhancing the city’s cultural fabric and economic vitality. Through these gatherings, the story of St. Charles continues to be written, one festive chapter at a time.

Other St. Charles Amenities

Family Arena

The Family Arena is a versatile venue for concerts, sports, and shows. It draws crowds from across the region to enjoy top-notch performances and engaging spectacles.

Ameristar Casino

The Ameristar Casino offers games, entertainment, and dining options for those seeking a lively evening.

The Ameristar Casino offers a glamorous night out with its exciting gaming floors, live entertainment, and dining options. For theater enthusiasts, the ACT II Theatre presents a range of productions, from contemporary plays to classic musicals, providing cultural enrichment and a touch of sophistication.

The Katy Trail: A Journey Along America’s Longest Rail-to-Trail Conversion

Spanning an impressive 240 miles from Clinton to Machens, Missouri, the Katy Trail is the longest-developed rail-to-trail project in the nation. 

Along this extensive path, travelers find 26 trailheads and four beautifully restored railroad depots, making the journey as convenient as it is scenic. 

The Katy Trail is a magnet for many enthusiasts – from cyclists and hikers to equestrians, nature lovers, and history enthusiasts. It’s more than just a trail; it’s a corridor of recreational opportunities, a gateway to the natural world, and a path through history.

Saint Charles sits proudly along the Katy Trail. It provides a perfect spot for trail users to disembark, stretch, and explore, or to begin their Katy Trail exploration. The town’s rich history blends seamlessly with the trail, offering an immersive experience of the past.

Streets of St. Charles: The Vibrant Hub of St. Charles

Streets of St. Charles has rapidly become the go-to spot in St. Charles County and beyond for an exceptional blend of dining, shopping, and entertainment. Not just that, it’s also a prime location for residential, business, and hospitality purposes.

Streets of St. Charles Concert
Streets of St. Charles

Strategically located with outstanding visibility from Interstate 70, this development sprawls over a million square feet, offering a unique and convenient experience unmatched in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.

Once the site of the iconic Noah’s Ark Restaurant and Motor Inn for over four decades, the area has undergone a dramatic transformation since 2008. 

Today, it is a dynamic, 27-acre mixed-use development boasting luxury apartments, a cutting-edge movie theater, modern office spaces, and two prominent hotels: the Drury Plaza Hotel and Tru by Hilton. 

The area is also a dining paradise, featuring some of the finest restaurants in the St. Louis region.

Here are a few of the best spots:

  • Prasino’s – Contemporary american restaurant with a comfortable atmosphere that celebrates the love of good food, good conversation and friendship.
  • Napoli III – Napoli Restaurants have been an Italian staple in the St. Louis area since 1989. The St. Charles location will boast exquisite food, great service and an upscale, yet fun, atmosphere with a casual flair.
  • Bar Louie – shareable, chef-inspired grub and craft cocktails, beers and wines
  • Narwhal’s Crafted – frozen alcoholic beverages using hand-crafted ingredients, infusions and purees that are produced in-house and from scratch.
  • Mission Taco Joint – fun and unique tacos – duck, brisket, fried chicken, homemade chorizo and many other unique taco fillings and combinations!

St. Charles, Missouri, is more than just a place to live; it’s rich in history and modern amenities. It’s a city where every path leads to discovery, every neighborhood has its charm, and life is lived with a sense of belonging.

Whether you’re drawn to its historical roots or vibrant contemporary lifestyle, St. Charles welcomes you to a world where every day is a new experience. Welcome home to St. Charles – where history and modern living blend into a life well-lived.

Photo of author

Lana Prinster

As a St. Charles County native, Lana Prinster is very knowledgeable about the entire St. Louis market. She graduated from Fort Zumwalt North High School and attended St. Charles Community College. She then went on to work as a multi-family property manager. Lana is now a licensed real estate agent with Gateway Realty Group, working with buyers and sellers. With an extensive leasing and property management background, Lana brings a wealth of knowledge to her residential real estate clients. Her go-getter attitude and willingness to go the extra mile for clients allow her to thrive in the real estate industry.