Once again, these ten towns aren't necessarily ranked in any order. Here goes...
The lovely Rathaus in Tübingen. They finally finished renovating it!
The obvious first town to mention, at least in my opinion, is Tübingen. This awesome college town is located about 19 miles south of Stuttgart and offers plenty of restaurants, shopping, and when the weather is warm, a pretty great biergarten. You can climb the church tower at St. George's Collegiate Church (Stiftskirche) for a great view of the area or go punting in the Neckar River. You can also visit the city museum and the Schloss Hohentübingen, or walk around the market square and look at the newly renovated Rathaus. Tübingen is one of my favorite towns because we lived very close to it the first time we lived in Germany and we used to visit often. There's always something going on there and it's a great place to people watch. I think it's a must see stop on any visit to the area, although be prepared for hilly terrain, especially when it's icy outside. You can take a train from Herrenberg that goes directly into the city.
Das Alte Rathaus-- One of Esslingen's most recognizable landmarks!
Esslingen is a very pretty town situated about 9 miles southeast of the Stuttgart center. Because it's located pretty far from where I live, I've only been there three times myself. However, it's easily accessed on the S-Bahn, even though it takes us a good hour to get there that way. Esslingen is especially enchanting during the Christmas season. Its medieval Christmas market is legendary! This town also boasts other festivals throughout the year, good restaurants, shopping, and the Kessler Sekt Cellar, where you can shop for locally made bubbly. You can also take English tours of the city, which has a very interesting history! Join Ellen Stillman Thomas's group for information on how to do that!
A shot at Hohennagold, castle ruins that reward your long, steep walk with ice cold beer!
Nagold is probably one of the less discussed cute towns in the area, but I'm partial to it because I live very close. It's a very charming little town that borders the northern Black Forest with a beautiful city center and small town appeal. I think it's probably become my favorite local hangout. It has almost everything I love about Tübingen without the crowds! Nagold also features a river where I've seen a lot of dog owners let their dogs swim during the summer. If you're feeling up to it, you can climb Hohennagold and see castle ruins, shop at the Saturday market, or visit the city museum in the Steinhaus which has different exhibits. The last time I went to the museum, they had a very interesting exhibit about how Nagold was a model city for the Nazis during World War II. It was free of charge to visit. Every two years, Nagold also hosts a Celtic festival in the summer called Kelten-fest, and there is also a fantastic public pool there, complete with water slides (for warmer weather, of course).
Weil der Stadt
A beautiful shrimp salad I had at Samowar, a Russian restaurant in Weil der Stadt.
I will admit that I haven't spent a lot of time in Weil der Stadt, except to drink wine at a wine tasting, go to an international food truck festival, and eat Russian food. I still couldn't help but notice how charming this town is, located 19 miles west of Stuttgart. Weil der Stadt offers an attractive cityscape, with its beautiful Church of St. Peter and Paul. It's also the birthplace of astronomer Johannes Kepler. I like Weil der Stadt for its great fests, but I also love it because there's good shopping there. The town boasts a gorgeous Edeka grocery store-- one of the nicest I've seen!
In Ludwigsburg's square...
Jewish memorial... outlined destroyed synagogue and suitcases symbolizing the lives that were lost.
Bill and I first discovered Ludwigsburg, a city about 7.5 miles north of Stuttgart, when we lived here the first time. We had gotten on the mailing list for a small French vintner we discovered at the weekend market in Tübingen and they let us know that they would be at Ludwigsburg's market. Wine is the reason we discovered Ludwigsburg, but we tend to go back there to buy beer. Ludwigsburg is not far from Kornwestheim, which is where Heinrich's drink market is. We haven't been to Heinrich's recently and we have a lot of empty beer bottles to unload! Usually, we visit Ludwigsburg when we're on a beer run, but we've also been there for fests, their Christmas market, and to pick up wine. The city also boasts a great African restaurant. I like to have lunch at one of the restaurants in the main square and watch people who have just been married. If you're there on a Saturday, there's a good bet you'll see at least one reception going on. It's a good place to catch buskers, most of whom are pretty good musicians. Ludwigsburg also has a Schloss and is the site of where a synagogue was destroyed on Kristallnacht in 1938. There is a very poignant memorial there.
A shot of the Stiftskirche and the Saturday market.
Herrenberg is a very pleasant city situated off of A81 between Stuttgart and Tübingen. We've spent a lot of time in Herrenberg because during both of our Germany stints, we've lived very close to this city. As charming towns go, I'd say there are a few others I like better than Herrenberg. However, I still think it's worth a visit because it has a very nice market square (and weekend market), several good restaurants, a church with a tower you can climb and a bell museum, and castle ruins. It's very close to the Schönbuch forest, where you can enjoy a lovely spring hike. There's also good shopping in Herrenberg, especially if you're looking for whisky, cheese, or unusual gifts.
At the old school Experimenta Science Museum in Freudenstadt. Cheap and fun for kids and big adult kids!
Freudenstadt is probably a little out of the way for a lot of Americans in the Stuttgart area. We drive through it whenever we go to France or want to visit certain parts of the Black Forest. It's a very attractive town that offers a kids' science museum, as well as fests, shopping, restaurants, and proximity to the Barefoot Park, located in nearby Dornstetten. Every time we pass through Freudenstadt, I want to stop and wander around. It really has a pretty downtown area, well worth a visit if you're looking for somewhere new or simply a place to stop for lunch on the way to France or the Black Forest. It's also a very popular vacation spot for Germans. Many famous people have visited Freudenstadt for its health resort, including Americans John D. Rockefeller and Mark Twain, and George V of the United Kingdom!
In downtown Reutlingen...
Reutlingen is another southern town, 22 miles south of Stuttgart, which boasts a pleasant downtown area. We pass through it whenever we head to Bad Urach, Lichtenstein Castle, Blautopf, or any of the caves in the Stuttgart area. I will admit we haven't spent nearly enough time in this lovely town, mainly because we encounter it as we pass through to get to another place. It's on my list for a Saturday visit, perhaps when the weather isn't so cold!
Lovely downtown Calw!
Calw is a town that probably gets missed by a lot of Americans in the Stuttgart area. We missed it the last time we lived here. It would be a shame not to visit Calw, because it's a very charming and historic town that happens to be the birthplace of Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse. Located west of Stuttgart, Calw makes a nice stop on your way to the "Treewalk" (Baumwipfelpfad) or to Bad Wildbad itself, the beautiful spa town where the Treewalk is located. It even boasts a location of the Schönbuch Brauhaus, which I know is a popular place for local Americans to eat in Böblingen. This isn't to say there aren't other nice restaurants in Calw, only that if you're wanting something familiar, you can find it there. Calw also participates in the very progressive and much appreciated "Nette Toilette" program, which is an initiative in certain German cities where businesses allow people to use their restrooms even if they aren't patrons.
If you love good food and visit Waldenbuch, be sure to stop by Gasthof Krone!
And finally, I want to mention Waldenbuch, which I know is well-known to a lot of local Americans due to the Ritter Sport Factory's presence there. It's also a cute little town with a great restaurant called Gasthof Krone. I will admit that Waldenbuch is another town I haven't yet explored enough, but I do know a lot of Americans happily live there and love it. I'm putting it on my list of towns I need to explore more... or at least a place where I need to have another great dinner!
I hope this list will be helpful to newcomers! I'm sure that before too long, I'll be making a new list full of new discoveries as Bill and I explore more of what there is here. I share these posts because we made the error of not getting out enough the first time we were here. It's a mistake to only focus on visiting other countries and big cities. The truth is, Baden-Württemberg has so much to offer. I would encourage anyone lucky enough to spend an extended amount of time here to get out and see what there is to see before the next move!