Annie Fitzsimmons

Annie Fitzsimmons is Intelligent Travel's Urban Insider, your cosmopolitan culture connection. From great places to stay and one-of-a-kind things to do in her home base, New York City, to tips from locals in the know in cities around the world, Annie is here to get you up to speed. Follow along on the blog and on Twitter @anniefitz and on Instagram @anniefitzsimmons.

The Miami of today may not look like any place my grandparents would recognize–at least from the outside. But Magic City’s big heart and carousing spirit are here to stay.

“Have a seat by the window; it’s better to watch the wildlife that way,” the host at Osteria del Teatro said with a wink as he led me to a table with a view. Before long, I was enjoying the show–a parade of people streaming toward Washington Avenue, one of the most happening thoroughfares in Miami’s…

Fort Lauderdale used to be known as a raucous spring break haven in the 1980s, with hundreds of thousands of college coeds descending upon the city each year for a 24-7 celebration of all things frivolous and decadent. But after the locals finally put their foot down and declared, “Enough!,” the binge-drinking crowd has all but vanished, paving way for new, more grown-up kind of place. Here’s why I love it.

My first glimpse of the ancient temple was in the still-dark morning. To my left, I saw the shadowy outlines of the architectural feat I’d waited my entire life to see, and to my right, a veritable wall of people with cameras flashing, all waiting to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat.

Over the past decade, Luang Prabang has experienced an influx of investment–along with strict regulations stemming from its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The combination has helped the former royal capital of Laos maintain its status as one of Asia’s best-preserved cities, with original stone temples and French colonial architecture reflecting its complex heritage. Here are some tips on how to home in on the authentic and unexpected in this Southeast Asian gem.

For those of us blessed (or cursed) with incurable wanderlust, the allure of an unexplored city or destination is hard to resist. But, this time of year, what I crave is tradition and a deep-rooted sense of home. I asked ten of my most trusted friends around the world about their favorite winter traditions in their home cities, and it put me in a wonderful, festive, globally inspired mood. I hope their stories do the same for you. Happy Holidays!

When New York City puts on its holiday charm, even the grumps among us can’t help but be enchanted. There’s just something about twinkly lights, sweet treats, and whiffs of roasted chestnuts that is universally appealing. Here’s my custom itinerary for a festive holiday crawl that will take you from Greenwich Village all the way to Central Park.

How to Elope to Paris

I’m not a huge fan of the concept of a honeymoon; there’s just so much pressure to make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Andy and I are lucky to have jobs that allow us to travel, but we were feeling over-scheduled and looking for a direct, easy flight. And what could be better than Paris in the fall? Here are my tips for a no-pressure, all-passion trip to celebrate taking the next step with your significant other.

Mexico wowed me in so many big ways, from the level of sophistication I saw in hotels and restaurants to the profusion of cultural wealth on display in every town and city I visited. The country surprised me in small ways, too — the quiet benches in beautiful parks, the noticeable importance of family life, the cute cafes and coffee shops. Here are some of the best things I discovered on my journey.

Comments Off on Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

Before this recent trip to Mexico, I had only a vague understanding of what the Day of the Dead was all about and had always found the holiday a little creepy. Come to find out, it’s a heartwarming occasion that serves an important dual function.

When I landed in Los Cabos, I almost immediately started daydreaming. You will too, if you come here. It’s rare that I arrive at a destination and start planning my return trip. Cabo hooked me in an hour. Here’s why.

The Best Eats in Cabo

I take a salty, savory bite. It’s earthy and crisp. It is, as promised, one of the greatest Caesar salads I’ve ever had. In fact, the Caesar salad may be the most famous dish to emerge from Baja California: It originated in Tijuana. I found a similar level of artistry and care in restaurants across Los Cabos. And the olio of internationally inspired dishes on offer around town was a welcome change of pace. Check out seven of my favorite foodie finds in this city by the sea.

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Welcome to one of the most fascinating urban landscapes on the planet: Mexico City. How do you even begin to know a place that has so many different personalities? By visiting its impressive cultural institutions.

When arrived in Mexico City, I felt something I hadn’t felt since my first visits to London, Paris, Shanghai: I couldn’t wait to tell my friends they needed to visit, too. But in a city so large — it’s about the same size as New York City — making decisions about what to prioritize can be overwhelming. That’s why it can be helpful to home in on a few can’t-miss neighborhoods and what you can see and do there. Here’s my recipe for the perfect long weekend in Mexico City.

Mexico City Chic: Polanco

I feel at home in Mexico City. This isn’t something I expected to encounter while exploring one of the world’s largest cities. I thought I would feel exhilarated and up for an adventure. But at home? Part of the reason I feel this way is because of where I’m staying: in Polanco.

Mexico’s Secret Beach

We’re just an hour’s boat ride from Puerto Vallarta, but these mysterious islands — a protected paradise that’s home to more than 90 species — make you feel like you’ve traveled a great distance.

Punta de Mita, a swath of lush jungle complete with lapping blue waters and sandy beaches, is part of Mexico’s Vallarta/Nayarit region. And it’s heavenly.

In addition to drawing legions of surfing and yoga devotees, Puerto Vallarta offers dishes that surpass meals I’ve paid triple for in New York (don’t even get me started on the ceviche) — and a rich cultural heritage that can be felt on the streets, in the shops, and in boutique hotels around the city.

My work and my wanderlust have led me to travel alone more often than not, and I’ve grown to embrace it, and even crave it. When I’m alone, extraordinary things happen on ordinary days all the time.

You’ll hear Arizonans say, “It’s a dry heat” with pride, and I’m right there with them. I would take Arizona summers over a sticky 85° with 75 percent humidity any day.

Comments Off on Unexpected Delight: The Isle of Wight

When you travel to England, you may fall in love with any number of things, like afternoon tea or cozy cottages. But after a recent visit to the Isle of Wight, which lies four miles off the coast of Hampshire, I am a proud hovercraft enthusiast. Here are a few other things you might not know about this unique place.

I’ve traveled a ton with my family and, of course, with my significant other. But when I think of the trips where I’ve had throw-back-your-head-laughing fun, it’s been the ones I’ve taken with my girlfriends.

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As an American and a traveler who enjoys a bit of romance and tradition, I find the monarchy endlessly fascinating. The royals put on a show for their subjects, especially in England, where each castle and historic site shines with pomp and circumstance.

Since returning from England, I look at Tabasco sauce in a new way. While attending the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace, I discovered the legendary condiment from Louisiana has earned the stamp of approval from Her Majesty in the form of a Royal Warrant of Appointment. (That’s right, the Queen likes a little spice.)

At times on Kiawah Island, I wondered if I was in South Carolina or the marshlands of Botswana. A mere 20 miles south of Charleston, Kiawah is a beachy paradise with all the essential resort elements — like cool cocktails and a phenomenal spa. But not every asset is manmade.