Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Allelujah and Amen, Atlanta!

Central Presbyterian Church, AtlantaMore than one thousand churches are scattered around Atlanta, Georgia. The destruction of the Civil War did away with the oldest ones, so all of those that I was admiring were erected after 1865. It’s not uncommon to see clusters of them in, say, a two-block radius—churches built for different denominations and faiths—which makes it exceptionally convenient to cast a not-so-wide net and still visit an abundance of these beautiful buildings. Read about the top five churches in Atlanta >


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Standout Buildings of Sioux Falls, South Dakota

First Congregational Church, Sioux Falls, South DakotaChartered in 1856, Sioux Falls didn’t take very long to swell into the largest city in South Dakota. With a population growth over 10% every decade since 1910, the city started erecting fantastic buildings almost from its earliest days. Many of them, from municipal masterpieces to residential gems, still survive as some of the city’s defining structures. Read about the top five buildings in Sioux Falls, South Dakota >


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Back to School

Lawyers' Club, University of Michigan, Ann ArborClasses are about to start again (cheers from parents, groans from their children). For travelers, it’s the perfect time to visit college campuses as they return to life. These academic oases can draw you in with special events, performances, and exhibitions that are open to the public, whether it’s at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta or at the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. But even if nothing is going on, I’ve found that their inviting grounds and attractive buildings remain appealing all year long. Read about the top five college campuses >


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In a Glass by Themselves

City Hall, Buffalo, New YorkWe rarely give much thought to the ordinary glass objects around our homes—our windows and mirrors, baking dishes and light bulbs, orange juice pitchers and cereal bowls. But once you start to consider its myriad uses, from the mundane to the extraordinary, you’ll develop a new appreciation for this versatile material that begins with melted sand and ends up as fantastic artwork. Read about the world’s best glassworks >


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Big Treasures in a Tiny Capital

Brock House, Montpelier, VermontThe compact downtown area of Montpelier, Vermont, tucks a lot into it: farm-to-table dining establishments, independently owned shops, history, natural beauty, cultural attractions. Strolling among them is delightful, especially if you appreciate architecture. The city has a surprising number of noteworthy buildings, belying its diminutive size. Read about the top five buildings in Montpelier, Vermont >


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Remember More Than the Alamo in San Antonio

Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio, TexasThe crowds swamping the little Alamo in downtown San Antonio, Texas, seemed torn between visiting the historic mission and the cheesy attractions directly across the street from it. I opted for the former, but not for long. The city boasts so many other fascinating things to see that you’ll soon be bolting away from the tourist mob and investigating its lesser-visited but no-less-interesting sights. Read about the top five things to see and do in San Antonio >


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The Best Churches in Kansas

St. Peter's Cathedral, Kansas City, KansasTraveling around the eastern half of Kansas, I found that there always seemed to be a church steeple on the horizon somewhere, whether popping up over a small town or making up a key element of an urban skyline. Like tempting beacons, I was lured to them and was never disappointed by their beauty, and by the surprises they contained. Read about the top five churches in Kansas >


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Walking in Memphis

Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis, TennesseeOne-hit wonder Marc Cohn’s earworm stayed with me as I explored Tennessee’s second-largest city. At least it’s a song I like, and it provided a tuneful background in my head. Although I didn’t follow the ghost of Elvis up to the gates of Graceland, I did trace the footsteps of countless musicians who trod Beale Street, capped by a satisfying lunch of fried green tomatoes and a catfish po’ boy at B.B. King’s Blues Club. In addition to its musical heritage, Memphis has an impressive array of architecture, from one of the world’s largest pyramids to a hotel that features a daily duck walk. Read about the top five buildings in Memphis, Tennessee >


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The Coolness of Hot Springs, Arkansas

Visitors Chapel A.M.E. Church, Hot Springs, ArkansasHiking in Hot Springs National Park, especially rewarding in autumn, is one of the two main lures of Hot Springs, Arkansas. The other is indulging in spa treatments in one of the bathhouses along historic Bathhouse Row. After I had partaken in both, I had plenty of time to roam around the center of the city, a wonderfully walkable core that boasts magnolia trees, the Gangster Museum of America, and an admirable inventory of fine architecture. Read about the top five buildings in Hot Springs >


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Unique Churches in Unique Venice

Church of St. Zachary, Venice, ItalyWhenever you cross one of Venice’s more than 400 bridges over its placid canals, you’ll catch sight of one of the city’s nearly 140 churches. They come in all shapes and sizes, from massive cathedrals to smaller parish churches. Most are Roman Catholic, but you can find a few for other denominations, such as the Greek Orthodox church with its leaning tower. And, while Saint Mark’s Basilica is the biggest draw, it’s often the less-visited churches that brandish the best surprises. Read about the top five churches in Venice, Italy >