Why is Tucson one of Time’s World’s Greatest Places for 2023?
An Arizona city ranks as one of the world’s top destinations in the same class as Barcelona, Naples, and the pyramids of Giza and Saqqara in Egypt.
Time placed Tucson on its 2023 World’s Greatest Places list, released Thursday, March 16. The list includes 50 world destinations that offer the most exciting experiences for travelers.
The publication praised Tucson, about 182 miles southeast of Phoenix, for its innovative restaurants, historic neighborhoods, and new boutique hotels.
Tucson is one of seven US places on the list that joins the Willamette Valley in Oregon; Yosemite National Park in California; Bozeman, Montana; Tampa, Florida; Rio Grande National Forest in Puerto Rico; and Washington, D.C.
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Time celebrates Tucson’s thriving food scene
Perhaps the biggest factor in Tucson’s inclusion on the Time’s Worlds’ Greatest Places list was its culinary scene, which led to its recognition as America’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. (Gastronomy is defined as the art and science of food.)
Don’t take my word for it—Time’s editors discussed food above all else when explaining why they should visit Tucson.
What caught their attention was how award-winning chefs used locally grown and Indigenous ingredients in their dishes. They quoted Don Guerra of Barrio Bread, who won the 2022 James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker for including ancient grains such as white Sonora wheat in their recipes.
“White Sonora wheat, first brought here by 17th-century Spanish missionaries, is now planted on the menus of restaurants like Maynards and newly opened Bata, and even a Southwest-inspired hefeweizen from Borderlands Brewing (Company),” Time wrote.
Borderlands was also intrigued by Time’s collaboration with Maria Mazon, who competed in Season 18 of “Top Chef” and is best known for her popular Boca Tacos y Tequila restaurant. According to Time, Mazon stands out for its “mini-empire that includes a tortilleria made with America’s only wild local hot pepper, where you can buy a bottle of its blazing chiltepin salsa.”
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Barrio Viejo’s history and charm make Tucson the World’s Greatest Place
Tucson has a rich history as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Southwest. It is home to more than 25 historic neighborhoods, such as Menlo Park, which was once home to the Tohono O’odham people and their ancestors, and El Presidio, which was originally inhabited around 700-900 and contains some of the earliest surviving examples of urban fighting. detached adobe houses, two styles of Spanish-Mexican architecture.
But it was Barrio Viejo that was chosen by Time. The neighborhood is defined by the Sonoran row houses of the early 19th century and was once home to an eclectic community of Native American, Mexican, and American residents, according to the Tucson Historic Preservation Association, which is pushing for the National Historic Landmark designation.
Walking tours are available in Barrio Viejo, including one offered by the binational nonprofit group Borderlandia – quoted in Time’s report – that explores the history and architecture of the area to explain what makes Tucson special.
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New boutique hotels make Tucson stand out
Outside of the city’s food and historic districts, Tucson is creating excitement for boutique hotels, according to Time.
The Citizen Hotel, a 10-room “boutique wine hotel” with a wine cellar in the basement, opened last year in the building that once housed Tucson’s first newspaper printing house. Guests can purchase bottles of wine in their rooms with refrigerators for cooling and enjoy free wine tasting at 16:00 daily.
Time also touched on the upcoming opening of the Leo Kent Hotel, a boutique hotel under Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio. Scheduled to open at the One South Church Building in downtown on April 30, Leo Kent has been among the Arizona Republic’s most anticipated hotel openings in Arizona for 2023.
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