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The secret is out — travel aficionados are taking notice of the historical, cultural, and gastronomic richness that the state of Yucatán has to offer. Sure, tourists in Cancun have long flocked to the Yucatán’s UNESCO World Heritage archeological sites, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, but now the state’s culture and cuisine are luring smart travelers to base their Yucatán adventures in Mérida because both the state and its capital city are being lavished in awards.

When Mérida was recently dubbed the “Capital Americana de la Cultura 2017,” the city became the first to hold the prestigious honor twice, having previously earned the title in 2000. The city’s historic downtown, with its eye-popping architecture, vibrant street scene and distinct mix of cultures, would most likely be enough to win the award, but having Mérida’s Gran Museo del Mundo Maya win “Best Emerging Cultural Destination of the Year 2015” (often referred to as the “Oscars” of museums) at The Leading Culture Destination Awards doesn’t hurt.

Savvy travelers know that the best way to find authentic food in a new destination is to eat where the locals eat. So it’s no small honor that Food and Travel Mexico readers chose Mérida over Mexico City, Ensenada, and Oaxaca to earn the title of “Best Gourmet Destination” in the magazine’s 2015 Food and Travel Reader Awards. But Mexican foodies aren’t the only ones praising Yucatan cuisine. Thanks to the city’s fine international fare, as well as spicy local dishes influenced by Mayan, Caribbean and Spanish cuisine, Mérida is the also the official “Latin American Capital of Gastronomic Culture 2016.” Leading the charge is Merida’s culinary favorite, K'u'uk, named one of Food & Wine’s “100 Restaurants Worth a Pilgrimage” and “Best New Mexico Restaurant” in Travel + Leisure’s 2013 Gourmet Awards.

Also known for its historic haciendas, the Yucatán has been singled out for its hospitality with Mérida’s Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel (1909) recently earning the title of “Best Urban Hotel in the Interior of the Republic” in Food and Travel Mexico’s 2015 Food and Travel Reader Awards.

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