Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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When the Theater Itself Is the Star of the Show

Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GeorgiaIn the golden age of movie theater construction in the United States between 1910 and the 1940s, moviegoers were treated not only to the featured film, but also a host of collateral offerings, from live music accompaniments to shorts to news reels. And they got to enjoy all of it in sumptuous surroundings that puts modern multiplexes to shame. It’s like comparing watching a movie in a palace to watching one in a boxcar. One theater that brought unimaginable opulence to the general public was Atlanta’s Fox Theatre—an intended Shriners auditorium turned movie palace that went bankrupt less than three years after opening in 1929 and ultimately faced the wrecking ball. Today, it’s one of Atlanta’s most beautiful attractions. Read about Fox Theatre >


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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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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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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 >


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Four Centuries of Churches in Delaware

First and Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DelawareSince the 1600s, religion has played an active role in the state of Delaware. Over time, log and wood structures that served as houses of worship morphed into more substantial brick and stone buildings. Steeped in history, these churches were often the hub of not only religious activities but also social life. Read about the top five churches in Delaware >


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Living Under a Foreign Occupier

Phone Booth, Museum of Occupations, Tallinn, EstoniaIn light of Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, I’ve been thinking about my visit to the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom in Tallinn, Estonia. Note the plural. This fascinating museum tells the story of how little Estonia was forcibly occupied three times in the 1900s—once by the Nazis and twice by the Soviets—and how it emerged as sovereign nation in 1991. It’s a timely lesson in heartless brutality and inspiring resistance, and a good reminder of how one insane madman can change world history—and what must be done to stop him. Read about the museum >


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The Best Museums in the U.S. Capital

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C.Most national capitals are their nation’s largest city. The American capital is a bit of an anomaly: Washington, D.C., doesn’t even crack the top 15. Yet, despite its comparatively smaller size, it has an embarrassment of riches, including more than 70 museums. Covering a wide array of topics, they can entertain and inform you on everything from art to postage stamps to espionage. Read more about the top five museums in Washington, D.C. >