Combine Edenism and hedonism as you explore this most romantic of German regions and dip into its mineral spas. The Black Forest ("Schwarzwald" in German) — so named because its thick forests allowed little light in was long cut off from the German mainstream. The poor farmland drove medieval locals to become foresters, glassblowers, and clockmakers. Today, the Black Forest offers clean air, cuckoo clocks, cheery villages, and countless hiking possibilities. This is where Germans come to recuperate from their hectic workaday lives, as well as from medical ailments. The region is also known for its favorite dessert, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte — Black Forest cake, a mouthwatering concoction with alternating layers of schnapps-soaked chocolate cake, cherries, and whipped cream. The region's two major towns are Baden-Baden — Germany's grandest 19th-century spa resort — and Freiburg, the Black Forest's de facto capital and main university town. For a small-town experience, hang your hat in cozy Staufen.