Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Missoula Minus the Mountains: The Best Buildings to See When Smoke Erases the Views

The Babs, Missoula, MontanaWhile spending a couple of weeks in some of the most beautiful parks in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, I took a city break with a couple of days in Missoula, Montana. The smoke from forest fires hung in the air, giving the city an ashy-gray tint that obliterated the views of the mountains. Up close, however, Missoula’s most attractive buildings stand out, and when the smoke clears, you really get to see why this city and its architecture — whether in the historic districts, downtown, or on the campus of the University of Montana — are so attractive. Read more about the top five buildings in Missoula, Montana >

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Visiting the Best Churches in Detroit, Michigan

Fort Street Presbyterian Church, Detroit, MichiganConsistently ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities known for their architecture, Detroit, Michigan, boasts a wide variety of fantastic structures: private mansions, corporate skyscrapers, legendary hotels and theaters, and spectacular churches. This latter group has been painfully decimated by retreating populations, but, although their congregations may have withered, their edifices remain stalwart evidence of the city’s admirable built environment. Read more about the top five churches in Detroit >


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Oh, Cincinnati! The Queen City’s Most Beautiful Buildings

Brotherhood Building, Cincinnati, OhioApproaching Cincinnati, Ohio, by crossing over the Ohio River on the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge — Roebling’s precursor to the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the world’s top five bridges — is a terrific way to view the city’s skyline. It’s easy to spot some of the city’s iconic structures, like the art deco Carew Tower and Paul Brown Stadium, mixed in with modern skyscrapers. But to see the city’s best structures, you need to be closer to the ground, so I parked my rental car and took a long walk around the Queen City. Read more about the top five buildings in Cincinnati, Ohio >


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Gdansk’s Elephant Restaurant Delivers in a Big Way

Elephant Restaurant, Gdansk, PolandEvery night while I was staying in Gdansk, Poland, I would find myself strolling along the Royal Way and the Long Market. Lured by its gravitational pull of meticulously reconstructed townhouses with wonderful facades, the easy mix of locals and tourists, and the pleasant sounds of bubbling water at the Neptune Fountain on one end of the strip and talented street performers creating beautiful violin music under the arches of the 16th-century Green Gate at the other, I found the heart of old Gdansk irresistible. I also found some outstanding restaurants in which to dine, including the very fine Elephant Restaurant. Read more >


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Going Green Around the World

Decanter Set, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaWith spring almost at the doorstep for many of us, we begin to think of shedding extra layers of thick clothing and weatherproof boots, stowing away our rock salt and shovels, and not having to de-ice our cars every morning. Buds will soon appear, and gray will morph into green bursting all around us, bringing with it all signs of rebirth and new life. Of course, nature doesn’t hold a monopoly on green; there are plenty of nonliving objects that are green that you can see and fall in love with all year. Read about the world’s top five greens >


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A Baroque Masterpiece in the Center of Ljubljana, Slovenia

St. Nicholas Cathedral, Ljubljana, SloveniaThe city of Ljubljana seems to have been created for its residents and visitors to spend a lot of time outside. Whether you’re kayaking down the lazy Ljubljanica River, exploring lovely Prešeren Square and one of the top five bridges in the world, climbing the hill up to the castle, or romping around some fantastic parks, Ljubljana inevitably draws you outdoors for long stretches at a time. But the capital of Slovenia is also one of the wettest cities in Europe, which means you’ll be spending some time indoors as well. And one of the best places to do that is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, a truly spectacular Baroque house of worship in the heart of the city. Read more about it >


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A Walk in the Arkansas Woods

Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, ArkansasI emerged from a remarkably inexpensive 90-minute spa treatment at Buckstaff Bathhouse, one of the still-functioning historic spas along Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas. Having been bathed, steamed, massaged, wrapped, and pampered, my rubbery limbs and relaxed mind clamored to be coddled in one of the spa’s inviting Adirondack chairs on its front terrace, but a glorious autumn day beckoned me to commune more with nature. So I headed to nearby Garvan Woodland Gardens for a slow amble through the forest, but it turned out to be so much more than a mere walk in the woods. Read about the delightful surprises at Garvan Woodland Gardens >