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Stuttgart is the car capital of Germany—and perhaps the world—with unforgettable car-themed experiences, as well as some notable other attractions that entirely avoid our love affair with four-wheel mobility and the open road. Here are are few things you shouldn’t miss if you visit this city in Germany’s beautiful Southwest.

RELATED: 5 fairy tale towns along Germany’s Romantic Road

Trover photo by John Tony

The Mercedes-Benz experience

Both Mercedes-Benz and Porshe are headquartered here, and both iconic brands offer museums with style as different as the companies themselves. At the Mercedes-Benz Museum, a futuristic glass elevator whisks visitors to the top floor to start a historic timeline tour that begins with 1880s contraptions by Gottlieb Daimler and his competitor and then partner, Carl Benz. Other levels focus on a particular decade or type of vehicle, such as trucks, buses or racecars. You can also visit the future, and so-called autonomous driving. A headset guide is included with each visit, and you can choose to hear about the historical, cultural or technical aspects of each stop.

Trover photo by AR0711

The Porsche experience

Meanwhile, about 20 minutes away, sports and racing enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Porsche Museum. In addition to the prototype designed by Ferdinand Porsche (which became the beloved VW Beetle), this museum showcases more than 100 historic and contemporary vehicles displaying nine decades of automotive design and engineering. Half the museum focuses on cars we ordinary people can drive; the other half on Porsche’s racing history, including more than 1,000 racing trophies. Be sure to stand under the sound cones to listen to the throaty roars of different engines. Yes, they are different.

Motorworld Stuttgart | © Motorworld, Courtesy of Stuttgart Marketing GMBH

Motorworld

The hangars at the former Boblingen Airport now house Motorworld, a collection of luxury car showrooms and repair shops. Watch mechanics fix a Lamborghini or restore a 1920s Ford, wander through a display of classic cars with sale prices ranging from the low to high six figures, and take a break at one of the restaurants offering everything from a quick snack to a five-course dinner under crystal chandeliers. There’s also a real flight simulator here, where you can try your hand-eye coordination landing a passenger jet and even get a video to take home to impress your friends.

Photo courtesy of V8 hotel

V8 Hotel

Stay in the V8 car-themed hotel overlooking the Mercedes-Benz factory and a decommissioned airport, where the mile-long runway has been converted into a mile-long lake. Each of V8’s rooms pays homage to a different manufacturer or race, including the Le Mans room, with a larger-than-life graphic of Steve McQueen. Beds are set inside vehicle chassis, bedside stands are tire rims, the breakfast buffet is set on a 1950s Chevy pick-up truck, and there’s a McLaren showroom in the lobby. As befits its airport location, V8 also has a couple of flight-themed rooms, including a Pan Am room.

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Boxenstop Museum

If it’s vintage and it moves, you’ll find it here at the Boxenstop Museum in Tübingen—think cars, motorcycles, model trains and other toys. Ask a docent to start up one of the historical HO trains or musical toys from the 1800s and early 1900s. This museum is in Tuebingen, 25 miles from downtown Stuttgart (by regional train or the B-27 highway). The town dates from the 1100s, and the historic center is filled with picturesque half-timbered houses.

Neipperg in the wine country just outside Stuttgart

Neipperg in the wine country just outside Stuttgart

Road trip!

Here’s one to dream on: Mercedes-Benz has a program that lets you purchase your new vehicle from a US dealer, pick it up in at the factory in Stuttgart and drive it around Europe for up to three months. They’ll then ship it home to your dealer. You can also rent a 911 from Porsche, including the opportunity to drive it around their test track. Or, rent a conventional vehicle to zoom on the renowned Autobahn system, where the maximum speed is 90mph through the countryside (65mph in crowded urban areas). While you’re cruising around the area, keep in mind that Stuttgart is more than cars. It’s also home to the second largest Oktoberfest in Germany and the world, after the one in Munich. The city is also surrounded by gorgeous rolling vineyards, so be sure to drive out to one of Neckar Valley’s charming Medieval wine villages such as picturesque Besigheim, where you can sample famous local reds such as Trollinger or Lemberger.

Trover photo by The Curious Zephyr

Cannstatter Volksfest

The Cannstatter Volksfest is held each fall in the city’s fairgrounds, close to where the Romans discovered mineral springs that still operate as baths and pools. Local breweries set up huge tents for beer, food and entertainment, and there are also amusement park rides and games. It’s family-friendly in the daytime, and just plain friendly anytime. Prosit.

Markethall Stuttgart | © Stuttgart Marketing GMBH

Markethall, Stuttgart | © Stuttgart Marketing GMBH

Markethall

The beautiful Art Nouveau Markethall is one of Germany’s largest and finest market halls, with a curved glass ceiling that lets in natural light. Aisle after aisle will tempt you with the freshest fruits and veggies, handmade chocolates and more varieties of sausages, smoked meats and cheeses than you knew existed. Upstairs is for kitchen items, home accessories, cookbooks, jewelry and more.

Trover photo by Eula Bee

Ludwigsburg Castle

Ludwigsburg Castle is one of Europe’s largest and finest Baroque castles, with some 450 rooms spread out over more than a dozen buildings, many of which are open for touring. The castle is just 10 miles from downtown Stuttgart and its grounds are composed of 74 acres of parks and gardens, including a fairytale garden designed with children in mind. The Ludwigsburg Theater Festival each summer features performances in the 1758 theater, using the original backstage pulleys and other scenery devices.

There are more unforgettable experiences close to Stuttgart, including the magical city of Heidelberg, world asparagus capital Schwetzingen and other culinary delights in the Black Forest. But that’s another story.

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Tagged: Europe, Germany

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Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn is an NYC-based travel writer who would rather ride a chairlift, river raft or zipline than the subway. She's a regular contributor to major publications, including airline inflights, and has written more than a dozen travel guidebooks. Evelyn's website is www.ecoxplorer.com
Evelyn Kanter

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