Don't Miss in Baden-Baden
Baths: The bath experience sounds scarier than it really is; if you're having a hard time getting past the nudity, remember how many illustrious patrons came before you, such as Tolstoy and Mark Twain, who noted "after 10 minutes you forget time; after 20 minutes, the world." You have two choices if you want to take to the waters. The historic Friedrichsbad has a traditional 17-step process that takes you through a variety of saunas, steam rooms and pools, including a brush "massage" (more like a vigorous scrub) and a cream "massage" (more like a lotion application). This is the one that's completely nude, and on most days, men and women mix freely. (Romerpl. 1; +49-7221-275920; open daily, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.) The alternative Caracalla Spa is more upscale and swimsuits are required for the bathing area; you'll still have to go nude in the sauna. There's a complete spa menu with prices in line with what you'd pay in the United States. (R?merpl. 1; +49-7221-275940; open daily, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.). You can also visit the Roman ruins of the settlement's original baths, but hours are limited to 11 a.m. to noon and again from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Casino Baden-Baden: Marlene Dietrich called Baden-Baden's gambling hall "the most beautiful casino in the world" and we'd agree with that assessment. It's vintage glamour, with large sparkling chandeliers, plush decor and extravagant mirrors and statues overlooking tables for blackjack, roulette and poker (lest they ruin the mood, slots are regulated to the basement). Tourists can visit the casino in the morning, but if you want to gamble, you'll have to come back at 2 p.m. with a jacket and tie required for men and nice clothing for the ladies. (Kaiserallee 1; +49-7221-30240; open daily, 2 p.m. to 3 a.m.)
Museums: Baden-Baden has a handful of museums that are worth your while. The Faberge Museum has a collection of 700 pieces of renown Russian decorative jewelry and art d'objet, including a few of the famous eggs (Sophienstrasse 6; +49-7221-970890; open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Museum Frieder-Burda houses the collection of a German printer/financier of the same name. The building is by Richard Meier, the architect who designed LA's Getty, and the artwork inside focuses on modern movements such as German Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and German art after 1960 up to today (Lichtentaler Allee 8b; +49-7221-398980; open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Music lovers may want to visit Brahms House, where the composer spent his summers at the height of his popularity, from 1865 to 1874. (Maximilianstrasse 85; +49-7221-275 233; open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
Strolling: Baden-Baden has an extensive network of pedestrian-only streets, as well as parkland. Part of what makes the city so relaxing is that you can wander around at your own speed, either looking at shops in the center or strolling along the tree-lined pathways. Gardeners should check out the Gonneranlage, which has more than 400 types of roses; it's just a short walk from the Casino. (+49-7221-23640; open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.)