Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Alabama’s Arrestive Attractions

Fort Conde, Mobile, AlabamaAdmitted to the United States as the 22nd state in 1819, Alabama has been producing two centuries of noteworthy events, from key civil rights movements to thrilling Crimson Tide football games to launching a highly successful eponymous country band. It has also been a place of firsts: Alabama was the first state to declare Christmas a legal U.S. holiday (1836), the first place in the world to introduce an electric street trolley system (1886), and the first place in the Western Hemisphere where an open heart surgery was performed (1902). And, of course, it keeps track of all that in the nation’s first state archival agency, created in 1901. From the hilly highland rim in the north to its white Gulf Shore beaches, Alabama is filled with more than enough sites, attractions, and points of interest to make your vacation here complete. Read about the top five things to see and do in Alabama >

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Exploring the Urban Landscape of Vicksburg, Mississippi

City Hall, Vicksburg, MississippiAround this time of year 155 years ago, the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, was under siege in a pivotal Civil War moment. A Union victory here, the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, spelled the beginning of the end for the South. The city survived, however, growing into a major trading center that relied on steamboat traffic and erecting impressive structures that reflected its boom and that still survive today. Read more about the top five buildings in Vicksburg, Mississippi >


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A Century of Style and Grace: New York’s Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building, New York, New YorkOnce the tallest building on the planet — a title it retained for 17 years in the early 1900s — it now ranks at #63 in the United States and doesn’t crack the world’s top 100. Despite surrendering its lofty crown, the Woolworth Building retains its elegance and style that have been hallmarks of the New York City skyline since 1913. Although it’s getting increasingly harder to see as taller, less interesting neighbors sprout up around it, the Woolworth Building still puts other skyscrapers to shame, and once you take your first glance at it, you’ll understand why my favorite building in New York earned the moniker the “Cathedral of Commerce” only three days after it opened. Read more >


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War: What Is It Bad For? Images at War Photo Limited in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Some people may argue that we live in safer times, that the occurrence of war is less frequent than only a century ago, and that the seemingly endless stream of violence that inundates us is really the result, not of actual rising numbers of belligerent actions, but of manipulative media executives and lightning-fast technology that brings the latest flare-ups into our homes immediately. Others say the world has become alarmingly dangerous, that no safe place exists, and that today’s headlines verify it all: North Korea’s aggressive saber-rattling, an unstable and benighted U.S. president constantly vomiting warlike rhetoric, sanguinary Islamist extremists happily murdering everyone, from senior citizens to infants to themselves, without a second thought.

What does all this have to do with travel? Quite a bit: It has closed off entire countries to us, has put us at unease in even “safe” locations, and has lengthened security queue times everywhere, from airports to museums to arenas. Fortunately, many of us will never experience war firsthand. But if you want a good look at its endless ramifications, War Photo Limited, a fantastic little museum in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is one place where you can experience it — safely — through the work of talented individuals with cameras, an instinctive sense of timing, and a touch of luck. The gripping and disturbing images on display will haunt you, but they will also make you appreciate everything that you have. Read more >


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A Home for War Blimps: Tillamook Air Museum, Oregon

Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook, OregonToday, the only time you’re likely to see a zeppelin is when it’s hovering over a football game or a parade, advertising Goodyear, for instance, or MetLife. But not that long ago, zeppelins were being touted as the next big thing in travel. A little disaster called the Hindenburg almost single-handedly sent that idea up in smoke. Zeppelins continued to be of great importance to the military, however, and the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon provides a fascinating look at a massive World War II blimp hangar and what it meant to the defense of the United States during the war. Read more >


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Beauty and History in Montgomery’s Best Buildings

State Capitol, Montgomery, AlabamaNamed for Richard Montgomery, an Irish-born soldier who became a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, Alabama’s second-largest city has earned numerous national accolades, including being cited as an All-America City by the National Civic League and the Best Historic City by USA Today in 2014. It was the first U.S. city to install city-wide electric streetcars, the setting for parts of the Academy Award–nominated movie Selma, and the birthplace of Nat King Cole, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Hank Williams, Sr. Walking around this historically rich city, I could feel its legacy oozing from its built environment, whether it was the Baptist church where Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor, or the executive residence of Jefferson Davis at the start of the Civil War. These are my top five buildings in Montgomery. Read more >


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The Five Best Canadian Museums

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, British ColumbiaIf you find yourself in Canada during the winter and are not an avid winter sports enthusiast or polar bear seeker, you’re probably going to want to stay indoors a lot. Icy temperatures and abundant snowfall are a great excuse to check out the excellent museums from coast to coast. These are my top five museums in Canada. Read more >