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jul 29

England: A new exhibit in Bath

An evening dress by Murray Arbeid, part of the Diana collection (The Fashion Museum, Bath)

I'm always excited to read about Bath in the news—I visited last fall with my husband and loved the small historic town, about 115 miles west of London.

Bath is famous for its Roman baths, a remnant of the 400-year Roman occupation that began in 43 A.D. The town is admittedly touristy but well worth a stop—although you can take a day trip from London easily, we stayed overnight and didn't regret it. Besides the must-see baths, there was plenty to do, like the Fashion Museum and the stunning architectural wonder, the Royal Crescent.

The Fashion Museum has been getting some attention lately for its new exhibit, the Diana Dresses. The collection has a few old-fashioned pieces from the princess's visits to Canada and New Zealand, plus some more modern dresses, like a black shift dress by Versace that Diana wore to a movie premiere in 1995. (exhibit through Jan. 9, 2011).

The museum also picks a Dress of the Year, and there are now more than 50 pieces on view. When we visited, I tried guessing the year of each dress—the styles run the gamut from glittery '70s Disco to modern minis. It's basically a quick glimpse into our ever-changing fashion sensibilities (there are also these crazy corsets you can try on. I don't know how women of the past did it!).

I highly suggest getting the two-for-one ticket to the Fashion Museum and Roman baths; at £15 (about $23), it'll save you £3.50 over buying the tickets separately. Also take them up on the free, informative-but-not-boring audio tour (what is it about English accents that make history more interesting?), with fun tidbits narrated by Bill Bryson. If you're visiting in August, the baths are staying open until 10 p.m. to accommodate crowds.

Tip: Bath's high season lasts through August but drops off a bit in September and October, when I happened to be there. If you have a choice, visit in the fall to avoid lots of other tourists.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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