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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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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O!

Joel N. Cornish House, Omaha, NebraskaThe marketing logo for Omaha’s tourism industry—a giant O with an exclamation point that you’ll see all around the largest city in Nebraska—captures the surprise that visitors experience in this city. More than a few times, I found myself saying, “O! Look at that,” whether it was the city’s outdoor sculptures, revitalized warehouse district, friendly giraffes at the zoo, or some especially impressive architecture. Read about the top five buildings in Omaha >


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Deco Delights in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Fire Alarm Building, Tulsa, OklahomaI’ve been to some of the best places in the United States to see examples of one of my favorite architectural styles—art deco: Miami Beach, Chicago, and, of course, my hometown, New York City. Much to my surprise, when I was running around the Midwest, I would find that Tulsa, Oklahoma, ranks right up there with the best of them, thanks to a fortuitous mingling of new oil money, the Jazz Age, and the architectural style that originated in France. Read about it >


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Houses Give Horses a Run for the Money in Saratoga Springs, New York

Kilmer House, Saratoga Springs, New YorkYou may go to Saratoga Springs for the horses, but don’t forget about the houses. In this utterly charming small city of about 30,000, the racing season brings crowds of summer visitors. During the rest of the year, you’ve got two national museums (one for dance, one for horse racing), plenty of hiking opportunities, spas, a renowned artists’ community, and a massive inventory of gorgeous architecture in numerous historic districts. Read about the top five buildings in Saratoga Springs, New York >


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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 >