Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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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 >


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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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The Legacy of Carl Ludvig Engel

Pulpit, Turku Cathedral, FinlandI had no idea who Carl Ludvig Engel was. But as I made my way around Finland, his name kept popping up. I would be awed by a fantastic cathedral and later on find out Engel was the architect. I would admire a stately municipal building and then discover that Engel was the architect for that, too. And his name kept reappearing, in houses and theaters and parks. I was soon on the hunt for more of Engel’s works, and they were pretty easy to find. Read about Engel’s top five works >


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The Best of Annapolis Architecture

Anne Arundel County Circuit Courthouse, Annapolis, MarylandA day trip from my wonderful accommodations in Dover, Delaware, brought me across state lines to Maryland. I was immediately enamored by Annapolis, now one of my favorite small U.S. cities, thanks in no small part to some outstanding structures, from utterly charming homes along brick sidewalks to impressive churches to the spectacular campus of the United States Naval Academy. Read about the top five buildings in Annapolis >


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Amsterdam’s Architectural Treasures

Concert Hall, AmsterdamIt’s easy to fall into one of the 165 canals that course their way around Amsterdam, especially when you’re gawking at everything surrounding you. On average, 100 people do so every year (as well as about 35 cars and thousands of bicycles). I was careful to keep an eye on the often unprotected drop into the drink as I strode around the largest city in the Netherlands, admiring both those wonderfully characteristic slender canal houses with gabled roofs and the much grander megastructures that make this city so memorable. Read about the top five buildings in Amsterdam >


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Scotland’s Spectacular Churches

St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, ScotlandSome are so ancient, you can almost hear the ghosts of worshippers from nearly a millennium ago. The churches of Scotland, like much of the nation’s architectural inventory, are astoundingly sturdy-looking, as if nothing could ever destroy them. They’re also exquisitely beautiful, with the most delicate details that often belie their bulk. They continually impressed me as I made my two-week loop around this irresistible land. Read about the top five churches in Scotland >