Municipal Standouts- UNESCO Adds Tucson

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05 Aug Municipal Standouts- UNESCO Adds Tucson

Municipal Standouts

UNESCO adds three Americans to its Creative Cities program


UNESCO famously designates World Heritage Sites, but its lesser-known Creative Cities program salutes urban areas around the globe in categories ranging from food to literature. The latest class of 47 cities includes three Americans. Here’s why and how to experience the creative sides of Austin, Deroit, and Tucson.


UNESCO crown: City of Gastronomy

Creative chops: Tucson joins the ranks of Parma, Italy, as a foodie city worthy of international attention based on its culinary legacy. Two prime examples: Mission Garden (, which grows heritage plants that tell the 4,000-year culinary history of southern Arizona; and the heirloom seed conservation center Native Seeds/Search, where visitors can buy some 2,000 varieties of seeds – from amaranth to wheat (

What’s new: Take a cooking class or stop for Sunday dim-sum brunch at the Carriage House ( from James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder. The magazine Edible Baja Arizona has launched all-day road trips that explore various themes, from the roots of Tucson’s UNESCO designation to area wineries and farms (from $150,

Don’t miss: Sample a Sonoran hot dog – a bicultural dish with bacon, pinto beans, and jalapeño salsa topping an American wiener – on the Best of the Barrio tour from Gray Line ($85, devoted to Tucson’s Mexican south side.


UNESCO crown: City of Design

Creative chops: Winning UNESCO’S first design designation in the U.S., the Motor City draws on its heritage as an automotive design titan, producing early wealth that helped finance art and architecture found across the city. Contemporary design start-ups – none more successful than the watch-and-accessories brand Shinola ( – have flocked to town, piggybacking on Detroit’s legacy of know-how.

What’s new: Detroit’s entire downtown shifted into redesign mode even before the city emerged from bankruptcy in late 2014. Expected to open in early 2017, the M-1 Rail streetcar line ( will run 3.3 miles along central Woodward Avenue, linking the riverfront to the entertainment-focused District Detroit ( Nearby, the 18-month-old hotel Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney (from $149, hosts 136 rooms in the 1915-vintage Daniel Burnham-designed tower, preserving the lobby’s grand marble arches.

Don’t miss: The annual Detroit Design Festival ( showcases some 350 local talents specializing in fashion to urban design, Sept. 22-24.


UNESCO crown:
City of Media Arts

Creative chops: Austin long ago branded itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” but UNESCO rewarded the Texas state capital for more than that. Its media arts crown encompasses the city’s multiple creative mediums, including visual art and film as well as music.

What’s new: The Austin City Limits Live music venue just spun off a smaller performance space, 3TEN ACL Live (, for intimate audiences of about 350 people. An installation of painted and handwoven rope from artist Orly Genger now stands at Waller Creek’s mouth through next February in a massive art installation produced by the Waller Creek Conservancy with the Contemporary Austin museum (

Don’t miss: The annual Austin Film Festival ( will introduce a new Capital Badge pass ($275) offering full access to about 80 panels, workshops, and roundtables, as well as more than 180 films, Oct. 13-20.

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