Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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The World’s Best Urban Parks

Watching a group of Asian senior citizens practicing the slow movements of a choreographed dance. Making friends with a red squirrel. Hearing someone rail against the evils of plutocracy. Standing under a 165’ Douglas fir. You never know what you’ll find in a city park, and that’s one of their many attractions. And the best parks that make all that possible smack in the middle of a city do it in unforgettable style. Read about the top five urban parks >


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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 >


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No Need to Go Far in Fargo

Great Northern Railway Depot, Fargo, North DakotaI was ending my two-week trip around the Dakotas with a one-day stop in Fargo. It didn’t seem a sufficient amount of time for North Dakota’s most populous city, but, fortunately, most of the highlights—including its most beautiful buildings—are located in a fairly concentrated area of one square mile. Read about the top five buildings in Fargo, North Dakota >


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A Festive Day in Lindsborg, Kansas, Is “Lagom”

Dala horseFestivals are one of the best ways to spend your time outdoors when traveling. You’ll experience a locale at its most joyous, most authentic, and most relaxed, and you’ll have ample opportunities to mingle with the locals. Case in point: a two-day celebration of Swedish culture in the U.S. Midwest called Svensk Hyllningsfest. In Lindsborg, Kansas, you’ll get to meet the friendly residents while experiencing the richness of Sweden that has been the hallmark of this small city since the mid-1800s. At the end of the festival, you’ll say that it was lagom—not too little, not too much, but just the perfect amount. Read more about it >


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How Great Thou Arch

Queenstown War Memorial, New ZealandThey seem simple: vertical curved structures that span an open space and may, or may not, support weight above it. Of course, arches are much more complicated than that, a complex balance of compression, stress, thrust, bracings, and transference. The Mesopotamians got the jump on them four thousand years ago, but it was the Romans who used them systematically in a wide range of structures, leading eventually to a worldwide adaptation of this most beautiful form. Read about the top five arches >


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Pedal Your Way to New Experiences

Stanley Park, VancouverWhen riding public transportation became a dodgy activity during the pandemic, carless people began switching to bicycles in droves, causing a severe shortage in supply. And now, with spring in full bloom, hopping on two wheels becomes an even more attractive way to get around. Beyond just a mode of transportation to help you accomplish your daily errands, a bike ride for the casual cyclist is also a terrific way to explore a new destination. Read about the world’s top five bike rides >


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A Literal World of Treasures in the Heart of Wichita

Museum of World Treasures, Wichita, KansasEgyptologist? Archaeologist? Paleontologist? Historian? Numismatist? Photographer? Mineralogist? No matter what (or how old) you are, it seems the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, Kansas, has something for everyone. Since its founding in 2001, the museum has assembled a tremendous number of riches from around the world, from prehistoric fossils to Frank Sinatra’s tunes. Read about it >


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Superb Structures in the “City of Soul”

Standard Life Building, Jackson, MississippiThe capital of Mississippi was within easy striking distance from my accommodations in Vicksburg, the wonderful Baer House Inn. In less than an hour, I had pulled into Jackson and was wandering its peaceful streets. In this city that is celebrating its 200th birthday this year, I found very little of its pre–Civil War built environment, thanks to its nearly wholesale destruction during that bloody conflict. However, a handful of survivors and some newer additions, all concentrated in a small walking distance, keep the city architecturally interesting. Read about the top five buildings in Jackson >


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The Best American Botanic Garden

Missouri Botanic Garden, St. Louis, MissouriSpring has sprung, and after the nightmare year everyone on earth has just experienced, we all need a little serenity and peace outside our four-wall quarantines. Botanic gardens are one of the best places to achieve that, to surrounded yourself with enduring beauty while unconsciously destressing and lowering your blood pressure. One of my favorite spots for that is the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis — the second-largest botanic garden in North America, blooming with more than 6.5 million specimens, and the most beautiful in the United States. Read about it >


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Marking Mark’s Feast Day

St. Augustine Catholic Church, Montpelier, VermontApril 25 marks the Feast Day of St. Mark, one of the Four Evangelists who wrote one of the gospels and spread the Word of God. His life mission took him around the eastern Mediterranean, to Cyprus and northern Africa, and his death, in 68 AD, is the stuff of legend. Over the centuries, he has been portrayed as both a young and an old man in just about every form of art imaginable. Read more about the top five depictions of St. Mark >