Correction to This Article
The names of two German cities were misspelled in the Travel Q&A column in the July 23 Travel section. They are Bad Cannstatt and Heidelberg.
TRAVEL Q&A

Chicago-Style Architecture

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By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 23, 2006

Q. My husband and I want to visit Chicago and do as many architectural things as possible. Any ideas?

Rosanne Blinder, Columbia

A. In Chicago, blink and you'll miss an architectural masterpiece. "Chicago is a city where renowned architects were hired to build significant buildings," says Susan Ross, spokeswoman for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which offers area architectural tours. "We also have a fabulous waterfront and a true skyline, so you can see the buildings in a sweep."

The City of Chicago's Landmarks Division provides an exhaustive list of the city's noteworthy buildings, and you could fill an entire week visiting each one, from "A" (Adams House) to "Y" (Yale Apartments). A more efficient way is to sign up for a tour -- or five.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (312-922-3432, http://www.architecture.org/ ) runs 88 tours, from general topics ("Historic Skyscrapers") to specific themes ("Mies and Modernism"). Cost is $5-$14 for walking tours to $27 for a cruise; there are also bike, bus and Segway options. For fewer crowds and a slower pace, follow the self-guided tour suggestions on the City of Chicago's Web site ( http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/List.html ). Among the choices: Innovative Housing, Subdivision/Planned Towns and Terra Cotta. Pick up a map at the city's landmarks office (33 N. LaSalle St.) or at the foundation (224 S. Michigan Ave.).

And don't forget the suburbs. Frank Lloyd Wright groupies flock to Oak Park (about nine miles from the Loop; accessible by train), which claims the largest Wright collection, as well as other Prairie School structures. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust (708-848-1976, http://www.wrightplus.org/ ) sponsors a number of tours that include the architect's home and studio as well as the historic district. The Oak Park Area Convention and Visitors Center (888-OAK-PARK, http://www.visitoakpark.com/ ) also arranges a PDA walking tour of homes whose styles range from Victorian to art deco.

Many buildings combine architecture with other activities. For example, a Louis Sullivan building houses a Carson department store, and the art deco Carbide and Carbon skyscraper now contains the Hard Rock Hotel (866-966-5166, http://www.hardrockhotelchicago.com/ ).

We'll be in Stuttgart and want to take some one- or two-day trips in southern Germany and nearby Austria and Switzerland. Do you have any suggestions? We don't want to drive.

Salley Sutton, Springfield

Porsche or spa? Those are the kind of attractions that tempt just outside Stuttgart -- and you don't need a Boxster to reach them. Trains connect cities throughout the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and across borders.

For half-day excursions, head to the Porsche Museum or Mercedes-Benz World, which recently opened the Mercedes-Benz Museum on the city's edge. The suburb of Bad Cannett is like a giant bathtub, with 12 state-registered spas you can soak in. The famed resort and casino town of Baden-Baden, an hour by train, also offers soothing waters. While there, hike around the Black Forest, then treat yourself to its signature chocolate cherry cake.

To see how the royal half lives, travel about a half-hour to Ludwigsburg ( http://www.ludwigsburg.de/ ). Duke Eberhard Ludwig's summer retreat includes the country's largest baroque palace, a rococo hunting lodge and the summer residence named Favorite. The palace also houses the area's only porcelain factory, which sells its delicate wares.

Tuebingen, about an hour south of Stuttgart, is a college town with weekday markets in its Marktplatz and two towers you can climb, one in a Renaissance castle, the other in a church. An hour in the other direction is Heidelburg, Germany's oldest university town, which boasts 10 museums and 14th-century castle ruins.

If you crave a big city and German art, Munich is two hours by train. Across the border, find chocolate and architecture in Basel ( http://www.baseltourismus.ch/ ); the Swiss city's tourism office provides a number of tours -- by iGuide, tram or guide. And for that Alpine high, venture into the mountains of Innsbruck ( http://www.innsbruck-tourism.at/ ).

For information on Germany: Germany National Tourist Board, 212-661-7200, http://www.germanytourism.de/ .

Postscript

Mary E. Gallagher of Arlington has a suggestion for spending a traditional Christmas up north (July 9). Her winter wonderland: Montreal. "The Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is absolutely everything she is dreaming of and more. We rode in a horse-drawn cart (with wheels), went snowmobiling and dogsledding . . . learned curling, cross-country skied and indulged in spa treatments. It would be easy to spend a week here. Once you were on-site, there would be no need for a car, and I'm sure travel arrangements from Montreal can be arranged." Info: 800-257-7544, http://www.fairmont.com/montebello .

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include name and home town.

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company


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