By Maura Keller | Photography © Daniel Acker, Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
In the heart of Wisconsin, you’ll find Stevens Point, a community with a love for outdoor recreation, craft brewing and the arts. What this small town lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. Cozy rather than commercial, Stevens Point is an idyllic locale for meetings, offering culture, history and hospitality aplenty.
Easily accessible just off I-39 in the center of the state, Stevens Point is a quick 15-minute drive south of the Central Wisconsin Airport — and the halfway point between Chicago and Minneapolis — making it a perfect meeting hub.
“When it comes to hosting meetings, there is no lack of venues or off-site fun,” says Jacob Adamski, sales and event experience manager at the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The area boasts the scenic 27-mile Green Circle Trail, perfect for walking and biking, and Stevens Point also is home to the second-oldest, independently owned and continuously operating brewery in the U.S. — Stevens Point Brewery — which is known for its Point beer.
In fact, Stevens Point offers a wealth of opportunities to quench your thirst. The Central Wisconsin Craft Collective partners alone include District 1 Brewing Company, Stevens Point Brewery, Great Northern Distilling, Sunset Point Winery, O’so Brewing Company, Central Waters Brewing Co. and McZ’s Brew Pub. Adamski says many of these also make great locations to host off-site event receptions.
Can’t-Miss Culinary Bites & Art-Inspired Sights
Meeting planners will find several sought-after tasty stops around the Stevens Point area that are easily incorporated into meeting agendas. Adamski recommends attendees start off with a bite at any number of local hot spots, including Father Fats Public House, PJ’s at SentryWorld or Michele’s Restaurant. Then top it off with dessert at Belts’ Soft Serve.
Stevens Point also offers an array of opportunities to work some and play some, as the downtown area is teeming with shops, restaurants and the state’s longest-running farmer’s market. “While downtown, check out various murals, the Riverfront Arts Center, or Buzz in Art Studio,” Adamski suggests.
For those attendees looking to enjoy the outdoors, visit the Stevens Point Sculpture Park to check out local and national artists just off of Green Circle Trail. Schmeeckle Reserve also offers kayaking and canoeing on Lake Joanis, or walk or bike around the lake by following various trails.
Or take a walk with the Portage County Historical Society on one of its walking tours. The historical society offers three different tours along with several other events throughout the year.
Swing into Unique Event Spaces
Not only does Stevens Point pride itself on the local culture, but this region is also home to SentryWorld — deemed the first destination golf course in the state when it opened in 1982. “In addition to being one of the nation’s top public golf courses, SentryWorld also offers a world- class meeting facility where no detail goes overlooked, including its brand-new boutique hotel, The Inn at SentryWorld,” Adamski says.
Chad Bates, director of hotel operations for the Inn at SentryWorld, says Stevens Point is a great setting for focused team meetings and retreats. “The natural beauty of the area provides an escape from the distracting sights and sounds of big cities,” Bates says. “Those same streams, lakes and recreational trails also offer options for group activities outside of meeting hours.”
SentryWorld offers premier event spaces with premier service all in one place. The boutique hotel offers a convenient option for hosting corporate activities without guests having to leave campus. The facility boasts seven different meeting spaces with a combined total just shy of 67,000 square feet.
As Bates explains, with its blend of elegance and Wisconsin charm, the new Inn is equipped to provide a full destination experience.
“We have multiple space options at The Inn and throughout the SentryWorld campus to host groups of any size, plus on-site catering, dining and lodging,” Bates says. “Our team also helps coordinate group golf outings or activities — including golf demonstrations or instruction — on our championship golf course. If a group wants to explore the Stevens Point area, our outfitter can equip them with bicycles or e-bikes. Our goal is to create a memorable and productive atmosphere.”
A short drive from the SentryWorld campus is the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Stevens Point, the branch of the UW System known to have the nation’s first College of Natural Resources. The campus offers five larger meeting facilities with smaller rooms to accommodate breakouts. The university also offers a full catering menu and is within a five-minute drive of seven area hotels.
For large-scale events, the Holiday Inn Stevens Point Convention Center has 16 different sized meeting rooms totaling more than 38,000 square feet of multi-functional space. It offers a full catering menu for meeting planners and 149 sleeping rooms with an adjacent Holiday Inn Express & Suites Stevens Point offering another 66.
“We assist to make sure each event feels different from the last event,” says Michelle Sedlak, director of sales and marketing at the Holiday Inn Stevens Point – Convention Center. “When you are here, you are focused on your meetings during the day, then get out and feel our hometown hospitality after.”
While the CREATE Portage County venue currently is located in do wnto wn Stevens Point, a move to a larger space is planned for spring 2024 in the former Sisters of St. Joseph’s Convent. The venue will feature a 27,000-square-foot space used as a community and co-working hub, and meeting and event space.
The Stevens Point Country Club has four spaces that can be used for meetings and events with the smallest being a maximum of 10 and the largest space with a capacity of 200. “Not only is the facility beautiful, but the views from the meeting spaces make it even more stunning,” Adamski says. “With a full catering menu and a great event staff, your event is sure to be a hit.”
Newly opened in Stevens Point is the Annex at the Opera House. This single indoor space is now open for private bookings of up to 85 attendees, with plans in the works to increase to 200. The Annex is just the first space at the venue to open as part of a significant renovation to return the Opera House complex to its former glory. When complete in late 2024, the venue will offer several different indoor event spaces that will accommodate groups of 45 to 200.
The complex will also boast a very large outdoor venue — a unique feature to the downtown — in the style of a paved patio and traditional German beer garden at the rear of the building, according to Erin Baltzer, events coordinator at the Opera House.
Finally, also located downtown is the Rose House. While it’s popularly used as a wedding venue, it doubles as a meeting space with 6,000 square feet and a maximum capacity of 200 with banquet seating for 150.
“We are happy to present to your planning committee, board or group to highlight our wonderful region and formally invite you to host your event in Stevens Point,” Adamski says. “Once a facility is secured, let us be your guide to all things Stevens Point. Whether it be providing room blocks, group rates, or local ideas or insight, we want to help plan the best event.”