Locals and out-of-towners alike go cuckoo for this most romantic of German regions — famous for its mineral spas, clean air, hiking trailss, cheery villages…and cuckoo clocks. 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 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.