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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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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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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Bourbon on Saturday, Church on Sunday

Georgetown Baptist Church, KentuckyKentucky produces approximately 95 percent of the world’s bourbon. That’s a lot of booze. And perhaps if Kentuckians imbibe a bit in what they don’t export, it may explain why, at last count, there are 5,011 churches in the Bluegrass State. That’s a lot of worshipping. And people in Kentucky are doing it in all sorts of structures, from what is barely more than a cabin to what could pass for an old Holiday Inn to cathedrals that easily rival anything in Europe. Read about the top five churches in Kentucky >


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Gems in the “City of Glass”

Dominion Building, Vancouver, British ColumbiaI was using Vancouver as my base to explore a small part of southwestern British Columbia. It was a wise choice, making access to Victoria, the Sea-to-Sky Highway, and multiple hiking and nature adventures simple. It was also a wise choice for staying local, because this highly livable city is both bustling and laid back, with plenty of things to see, from a colorful Little India to excellent museums to Stanley Park, one of the world’s best urban parks—and to some very impressive architecture just waiting to be admired among all the glass and steel skyscrapers. Read about the top five buildings in Vancouver >


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Pre-War Perfection in Düsseldorf, Germany

St. John's Church, Dusseldorf, GermanyWhile walking between the Christmas markets in Düsseldorf, Germany, including one of the largest in the entire country, and snacking on ginger Lebkuchen and sipping glühwein, I stopped to admire some wonderful buildings. Although much of the city (about 64 percent) was destroyed during the Second World War, these survivors escaped total destruction and remain some of the city’s most spectacular structures. Read about the top five buildings in Düsseldorf >


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Milwaukee’s Gilded Age Glory

Germania Building, Milwaukee, WisconsinStaying at a hotel in downtown Milwaukee that used to be a Gimbels department store gave me easy access to many of the city’s best attractions, including the remnants of its Gilded Age. Industrious immigrants, including a tidal wave of Germans and other Eastern Europeans, boosted the city’s population so that, by 1900, it was the 14th largest city in the United States. The work of these determined newcomers coincided with America’s explosion of industrial achievements and economic expansion, and they left behind a legacy of fantastic structures in their “German Athens.” Read about the top five buildings in Milwaukee >