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SAVE ON SAN JUAN VACATIONS

San Juan city guide

How to get the best out of the capital of The Island of Enchantment.

There’s more to the capital of Puerto Rico than sandy white beaches and poolside piña coladas. While charming Old San Juan has historically been the main draw for the island’s visitors, surrounding neighborhoods are attracting travelers like never before. Guests can enjoy balcony views at seaside hotels, tour historic sites in Old San Juan and dance the night away at the Placita de Santurce. Want to experience San Juan like a local? Immerse yourself in the history of the Island of Enchantment’s capital as you visit the sites that our five notable locals frequent in town.

Words by Andrea Moya

 


Old San Juan

Puerto Rico's first governor, Juan Ponce De Leon, founded this fortified city on an islet off the main island more than 500 years ago. Visitors can stroll along its impeccably preserved cobblestone streets lined with vibrantly colorful Spanish colonial homes. Dozens of museums and landmarks offer glimpses into the city’s long history while galleries, local boutiques and craft stores signal its ongoing modern renewal. Visit the old city’s restaurants and bars to savor authentic criollo meals alongside the best rum cocktails San Juan has to offer.

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Condado & Ocean Park

Condado is an upscale beachfront neighborhood flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Condado Lagoon to the south. Luxury hotels such as La Concha Resort and the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel share Ashford Avenue with modern high rises, a diverse array of restaurants and charming oceanfront parks. During the day, visitors can lounge on postcard-worthy beaches or kayak on the lagoon before diving into the local nightlife once the sun sets. The adjacent Ocean Park neighborhood is best known for its beaches and boutique hotels.

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Santurce & Miramar

Across the lagoon from Condado are San Juan’s Santurce and Miramar neighborhoods. The two districts have distinct personalities, but they’re inextricably linked. Calle Cerra -- a mecca for street art -- and Calle Hoare serve as hazy division lines. The urban center of Santurce is home to the lively Placita de Santurce. Miramar is residential, but architectural gems are hidden within its maze-like streets. The neighborhood is also home to cultural hotspots such as the Conservatory of Music, Fine Arts Cinema and the new Museum of Art and Design.

Courtesy Placita de Santurce

Hato Rey

The financial center of San Juan is split down the middle by La Milla de Oro (The Golden Mile), a section of Juan Ponce de Leon Avenue occupied by rows of imposing government buildings and banks. Event venues such as the Hiram Bithorn Stadium and the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum are located here, just a few minutes away from the Plaza Las Américas, the largest mall in the Caribbean.

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Rio Piedras

Once its own municipality, Rio Piedras was incorporated into San Juan in 1951. The main campus of the University of Puerto Rico was established here in 1903 and serves as the cultural and economic heart of the area. The Casa de Cultura Ruth Hernández hosts literary events for locals beyond the student population while shopping hubs such as the Paseo de Diego and Plaza del Mercado round out the visitor experience.

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Isla Verde

While it is not officially located in San Juan, neighboring Carolina’s Isla Verde neighborhood begins where Ocean Park ends – at Ultimo Trolley Beach. Isla Verde Avenue stretches for several miles along the coast, with its strip of hotels and beachfront apartment buildings resembling those of Miami Beach. The Balneario de Carolina, the Hotel El San Juan and Ocean Lab microbrewery are also located here.

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Fine Dining

Courtesy Santaella

Santaella

(787) 725-1611, 219 Calle Canals, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Chef José Santaella's namesake restaurant on La Placita de Santurce takes Puerto Rican cuisine to new heights by adding Asian-, Spanish- and Mediterranean-inspired flourishes to locally sourced ingredients and authentic traditional recipes. At the restaurant's bar, talented mixologists craft unforgettable cocktails using top-shelf spirits, bitters, house-made syrups and more.

santaellapr.com

Courtesy Oceano

Oceano

(787) 724-6300, 2, Calle Vendig, San Juan, PR 00907, United States

Savor some of the best seafood in Condado at a mansion right on the beach. At Oceano, tropical flavors accentuated with sophisticated preparation techniques and creative combinations dominate the menu. Jumbo shrimp are paired with yuca mofongo and the Palermo pork is served with guava glaze and smoked brie cheese. Enjoy your meal with a signature cocktail or choose from the carefully selected wine list.

oceanopr.com

Courtesy 1919

1919

(787) 724-1919, 1055 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel's luxurious 1919 restaurant showcases the talents of Michelin Star-rated executive chef Juan José Cuevas. Dinner is served as a four-course prix fixe menu and each dish is accompanied by a sommelier-recommended wine pairing. The restaurant’s menu changes year-round as fresh local ingredients come into season.

condadovanderbilt.com

Criollo

Courtesy La Casita Blanca

La Casita Blanca

(787) 726-5501, 351 Calle Tapia, San Juan, 00912, Puerto Rico

A visit to La Casita Blanca is not too different from going over to your abuelita’s house for lunch. Antique paintings and kitschy thrift store finds adorn the walls and each table is covered with colorful vinyl tablecloths. Each dish is a classic criollo recipe without any tinkering or shortcuts, making this one of the best places to get an authentic Puerto Rican meal in San Juan. Sister restaurant Casita Miramar is also worth a visit.

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Courtesy José Enrique

José Enrique

(787) 705-8130, 1021 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

James Beard Award-nominated chef José Enrique became one of the first culinary entrepreneurs to put classic Puerto Rican fare on the global radar when he opened his namesake restaurant at La Placita de Santurce back in 2007. Since then, he’s relocated the flagship location to Condado, where the restaurant got an upscale upgrade but the menu has remained consistent.

joseenriquepr.com

Courtesy El Jibarito

El Jibarito

(787) 725-8375, 280 Calle Sol, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

For a casual and affordable meal, visit El Jibarito. The cafeteria-style restaurant in Old San Juan serves traditional Puerto Rican dishes such as mofongo, tostones and sancocho. Snowbirds visiting during the winter months should try the restaurant’s Christmas feast for a sampler of classic dishes that are only available during the holidays, including pasteles, arroz con gandules and lechón.

eljibarito.business.site

Courtesy Café Manolín

Café Manolín

(787) 723-9743, 251 Calle San Justo, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Established more than 70 years ago, Café Manolín is a local favorite for traditional breakfast and lunch in Old San Juan. The restaurant resembles a diner, with an S-shaped counter lined with stools at the front and a small dining room in the back. Daily specials are served a la carte, the wait is never long, and the coffee is always strong. Remember to save your appetite: This is not the place for a light meal.

cafemanolinoldsanjuan.com

Farm-to-table

Courtesy Vianda

Vianda

(939) 475-1578, 1413 Avenida Juan Ponce de León, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

In 2018, husband-and-wife team Francis Guzmán and Amelia Dill's Vianda was selected as one of the 20 Best New Restaurants in America by the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant’s ingredients are sourced directly from local farmers, so its menu changes seasonally and sometimes day-to-day. Depending on availability, lunch options include spinach Canelones and a veggie sandwich made with roasted zucchini and eggplant. Large plates such as the Raviolini de Calabaza made with roasted shiitake mushrooms are available for dinner.

viandapr.com

Courtesy Verde Mesa

Verde Mesa

(787) 390-4662, 107 Calle Tetuan Esq, Calle San José, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

This small, elegant bistro in Old San Juan has never wavered from its mission to exclusively serve locally sourced produce, meat and fish. From stewed eggplant to a duck, pumpkin and barley potage, plates are served with limited embellishment to allow their main ingredients to really shine. Hurricane Maria stymied head chef Gabriel Hernández’s efforts in 2017, but he resurrected the restaurant and earned a James Beard Award nomination in 2018.

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Courtesy Cocina Abierta

Cocina Abierta

(787) 946-1333, Cll Caribe, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Cocina Abierta translates to “open kitchen,” so it’s fitting that chef Martin Louzao keeps his options open. The restaurant’s menu changes weekly depending upon Louzao’s sourcing of ingredients. Courses – or “acts,” as he refers to them – can range from Peking duck with guava hoisin sauce to Caribbean spiny lobster à la Thermidor with black garlic and yuzu.

cocinaabierta.com

Breakfast and Brunch

Courtesy Sobao By Los Cidrines

Sobao By Los Cidrines

(939) 399-0001, 1369 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Sobao is the new face of Puerto Rico’s famous Los Cidrines bakery. The term "sobao" refers to the soft, sweet bread the owners invented by accident when they opened their original bakery in 1978. More than two decades later, pan sobao is a staple of Puerto Rican breakfast. This chic locale in the heart of Condado is one of the best places to sample the original. The bakery also serves sandwiches on pan sobao, pan de agua (traditional Spanish bread) or pan integral (whole-wheat bread). Other options include omelets, pastries, empanadas, croquetas and more.

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Courtesy Bistro Café, Isla Verde

Bistro Café, Isla Verde

(787) 603-5757, 29 Calle Júpiter, San Juan, Carolina 00913, Puerto Rico

Located right on the division between San Juan and Carolina, this popular brunch spot is famous for its enormous, loaded omelets served with a whole baguette, French toast, pancakes or waffles covered in Nutella and fresh fruit. Its lunch options are equally decadent without sacrificing affordability. That makes for long lines on the weekends, but the indulgent meal is worth the wait.

Courtesy Sabrina Brunch & Bistro Bar

Sabrina Brunch & Bistro Bar

(787) 302-5419, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico

Located on the buzzing Calle Loíza between Ocean Park and Condado Beach, Sabrina Brunch and Bistro is the choice of San Juan hipsters for a boozy and indulgent brunch. The restaurant’s hearty fare includes a Caribbean spin on eggs Benedict made with mangu and longaniza sausage, but guests can also opt for lighter options such as mussels served in coconut broth. If you can't make it early in the day, Sabrina’s lunch and dinner menus are just as exquisite and the restaurant hosts live musical acts on select evenings.

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Courtesy Cortés Chocobar

Cortés Chocobar

(787) 722-0499, 210 Calle San Francisco, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Cortés Chocobar is a must for chocolate lovers. Start with the traditional hot chocolate served with a side of cheddar cheese for dipping. Then, take a chance on menu items that incorporate chocolate in surprising ways, from the decadent chocolate grilled cheese sandwich to the vanilla-chocolate pancakes or waffles. Even the avocado toast contains chocolate. Savory options include omelets, chorizo with eggs and sourdough bread, and salmon benedicts. Visit the art gallery on the second floor while you wait to be seated.

chocobarcortes.com


Craft Beer

Courtesy La Taberna Lúpulo

La Taberna Lúpulo

(787) 310-2313, 151 Calle San Sebastián, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

La Taberna Lúpulo, located in Old San Juan, carries the largest craft beer selection in the Caribbean. Visitors can choose from local microbrews and international bottled or draft options to accompany brunch, lunch or bar bites. La Taberna hosts live music every week as well as recurring events including chef pop-ups and specialty beer tastings.

latabernalupulo.com

Courtesy Ocean Lab Brewing Co.

Ocean Lab Brewing Co.

(787) 648-5655, 7000 Carr. 187 RR2, 00979, Puerto Rico

Ocean Lab -- one of the most prominent microbreweries in Puerto Rico -- is an oceanfront tasting room inside the Vivo Beach Club; an entertainment complex in Isla Verde. Guests can order flights or pints from a selection of craft beers made on the premises. Options range from standard IPAs and blonde ales to the Tamarindo Gose and Mambo Ocean. The brewery also offers seasonal selections such as the Oktoberfest Marzen.

oceanlabbrewery.com

Courtesy El Tap

El Tap

(787) 545-4955, 1969 Calle Loíza, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico

As the name implies, this pub only serves beer on tap. Wine and sangria are also available -- on tap. The establishment’s selection of 46 beers is in constant rotation and includes a wide variety of local microbrews. Guests can grab a pint, flight, to-go can, growler or crowler and come back for refills. El Tap also crafts excellent bar bites including sausages, fried calamari, and sliced steak with dipping sauces.

Courtesy 100x35 Beer Boutique

100x35 Beer Boutique

(787) 764-6460, Villas de San Francisco Plaza I 89, Av. José de Diego Ste 101, San Juan, 00927, Puerto Rico

On tap, 100x35 Beer Boutique exclusively serves brews from the island alongside beer from the Puerto Rican-owned and Miami-based Wynwood Brewery. Bottled options are comprised of a mix of local and international craft beers that guests can take to-go. But for those who choose to stay, 100x35 Beer Boutique hosts a weekly comedy night, live music, networking events and happy hour specials.

Courtesy Taberna Boricua

Taberna Boricua

(787) 649-2686, 418 Cll Agueybana, San Juan, 00918, Puerto Rico

Named one of CraftBeer.com's Great American Beer Bars of 2019, Taberna Boricua was one of the first beer gardens in Puerto Rico. Eight years later, it remains one of the island’s most popular beer establishments. Its selection of 200 beers on tap changes almost weekly, with live music events and brewery takeovers keeping even the most loyal regular customers intrigued.

Wine Bars

Courtesy Alfresco Rooftop Wine Bar

Al Fresco Rooftop Wine Bar

(939) 599-5011, 156 Calle Sol 3rd floor, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Overlooking the picturesque streets of Old San Juan is the intimate open-air patio of Alfresco Rooftop Wine Bar. Located on the third floor of a building that also houses St. Germain Bistro and The Mezzanine Cocktail Bar, Al Fresco is the ideal spot to watch the sunset and enjoy a bottle of wine over a tapas dinner.

Courtesy The Winery Outlet

The Winery Outlet

(787) 998-9158, 1484 Ave. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Los Borinquen Towers Shoping Center #17, San Juan, 00920, Puerto Rico

The staff at The Winery Outlet is just as committed to serving great wine as it is to educate its customers about different styles and producers. But guests will find more than wine at this establishment, with cocktails and craft beers also available for purchase. The food menu includes tapas, pizzas and a la carte options such as pasta, paellas and meat cuts. The Winery Outlet also serves steak, chicken and fish platters that can feed up to 3 or 4 people.

thewineryoutlet.net

Cocktail Bars

Courtesy La Factoria

La Factoria

(787) 412-4251, 148 Calle San Sebastián, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Consistently voted one of the Top 50 Bars in the world, La Factoria has become a bucket list destination for cocktail aficionados visiting Old San Juan. The establishment contains three bars in one, with the front bar serving up its classic cocktail menu; Vino offering wine, cocktails and tapas; and Shing-A-Ling hosting live music and DJs who keep the party going all night.

colectivoicaro.com

Courtesy The Mezzanine

The Mezzanine

(787) 366-1296, 156 2nd Floor, Calle Sol, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

The Mezzanine is a speakeasy-style bar located in the former home of Puerto Rican nationalist leader Pedro Albizu Campos. With plush seating, dim lighting and framed photos on the walls, The Mezzanine maintains its hospitable, mid-century charm. Classic cocktails are reinvented with a tropical twist, from the Guava Cosmo to the El Maestro made with tamarind juice.

mezzaninepr.com

Courtesy JungleBird

Jungle Bird

254 Calle Canals, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Located on the outskirts of La Placita de Santurce, Jungle Bird basks in its island setting with tropical and Taino-inspired cocktails. The drink names are playful, from the Adios Pantalones (Goodbye Pants) to the Frida’s Visit to MoMA, and the neon-lit lounge seating provides the ideal setting for a nightcap after an evening out on the town.

colectivoicaro.com

Courtesy Gallo Negro

Gallo Negro

(787) 554-5445, 1107 Avenida Juan Ponce de León, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Gallo Negro was one of the first cocktail bars to open in Santurce. Today, it boasts one of the best selections of whisky in San Juan. The bar is also known for chef Maria Grubb's seasonally changing menu where Dominican-, American-, Asian- and Puerto Rican-influenced dishes commingle. The bar menu also changes regularly, as does the Sunday brunch menu, which is often curated thematically. Guests should also keep an eye out for the prix fixe chef’s menu, sponsored cocktail events and pairing dinners.

Coffee Shops

Courtesy Gustos Coffee Co.

Gustos Coffee Co.

(787) 783-3263, A, Mario Julia Industrial Park, 530 Calle A, Suite 1, San Juan, 00920, Puerto Rico

Across the street from the Conservatory of Music, this coffee shop serves delicious and robust Puerto Rican-grown coffee. Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, Gustos is a popular neighborhood café where guests can relax with a latte and pastry or go all out with a classic breakfast or lunch wrap. Gustos also offers barista classes and coffee tastings for the caffeine-curious.

gustoscoffeeco.com

Courtesy Hacienda San Pedro

Hacienda San Pedro

318 Avenida José de Diego, San Juan, 00923, Puerto Rico

Grown in the mountains of Jayuya, the coffee served at Hacienda San Pedro is premium grade, with its smoothness and slight sweetness giving it a distinctive taste. Hacienda San Pedro’s shops are located in Jayuya, Hato Rey and Santurce, with the latter serving pastries and some sandwiches. Enjoy a latte or iced coffee inside or on the covered patio, but make sure to buy a bag of coffee to take home with you.

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Courtesy Cuatro Sombras

Cuatro Sombras

(787) 724-9955, 259 Calle Recinto Sur, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Cuatro Sombras coffee is grown in Puerto Rico’s original coffee capital, the town of Yauco. Batches are roasted on-site at Cuatro Sombras’ Old San Juan coffee shop twice a week. The shop’s prime location on the old city’s south side provides the ideal starting point for a day of exploration in Old San Juan. For an extra boost, guests can try coffee brewed using Chemex or a French press. Visitors can pair their coffee with the shop’s pastries and cakes, which are made in-house.

cuatrosombras.com

Courtesy Café Cola'o

Café Cola'o

(787) 725-4139, Calle Marina, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Located right where the cruise ships come in is a tiny shop serving some of the best coffee in Old San Juan. Café Cola'o also sells a selection of pastries and local yogurts as well as coffee by the pound from different parts of the island. Seating is limited inside, but the tables and chairs on the dock provide stunning seaside views.

Courtesy Café Regina

Café Regina

(570) 498-9845, 58 Calle Taft, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico

This specialty coffee shop specializes in experimental coffee drinks inspired by local ingredients and classic cocktails. A fixture on its menu, for example, is the coffee-centric, nonalcoholic take on the Dark ’n’ Stormy. For guests who are not into coffee, Café Regina also offers iced teas and juices made with local fruits and flowers, as well as house-made pastries and lunch specials.


Five notable locals show us how to do their town, their way.

San Juan, with its colorful colonial buildings and cobblestone streets, was founded in 1521, almost a century before the Mayflower arrived in America. Sturdy walls still enclose portions of the old city, but the capital has expanded into surrounding neighborhoods, upping its reputation as not...

Beachside

Courtesy Serafina Beach Hotel

Serafina Beach Hotel

(787) 625-6000, 1045 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

This boutique hotel in the heart of Condado offers direct beach access, but for the sand-averse, Serafina’s infinity pool offers a waterfront alternative with stunning views of San Juan’s shoreline. Guests can enjoy fresh seafood and Mediterranean cuisine at the hotel's aMare restaurant or a signature cocktail at PiñaCo, a casual bar between the lobby and pool deck.

serafinabeachhotel.com

Courtesy San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel

San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel

(888) 265-6699, 2 Calle Jose M. Tartak, Carolina, 00979, Puerto Rico

The shores of San Juan sit just across the street from the San Juan Water Beach Club. Those views are particularly stunning from the vantage point of the hotel’s rooftop pool or Mist Rooftop Bar + Kitchen. For more eats, guests can dine in at Zest Grill Room, where chef Raúl Correa has created a globally-inspired and locally-supplied culinary experience.

waterbeachhotel.com

Courtesy El San Juan Hotel

El San Juan Hotel

(855) 326-5273, 6063 Av. Isla Verde, Carolina, 00979, Puerto Rico

An impressive lobby bar greets guests as they arrive at the El San Juan Hotel, with ornate chandeliers and impeccable detailing setting the tone for an opulent and luxurious experience. The sprawling property offers direct access to Isla Verde Beach as well as several pools, one of which has a bar built into it. After a day at the beach, enjoy live entertainment at the property’s cabaret and lobby bars or hit the hotel's nightclub, Brava.

elsanjuanhotel.com

Courtesy La Concha Resort

La Concha Resort

(787) 721-7500, 1077 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

This Condado resort seamlessly blends tropical ambiance with modern, elegant décor. After you spend your day lounging by the pool, enjoy a seafood dinner at the architecturally impressive, conch-shaped Perla restaurant. For entertainment, head to the property’s Casino del Mar or dance the night away at Concha’s Fifty Eight nightclub.

laconcharesort.com

Boutique Hotels

Courtesy O:live Boutique Hotel

O:live Boutique Hotel

(787) 705-9994, 55 Cll Aguadilla, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Named Condé Nast Johansens’ Best Small and Exclusive Hotel of the Americas in 2019, O:Live Boutique maintains its unique identity through eclectic décor that varies stylistically from suite to suite. The hotel’s rooftop lounge offers expansive views of Condado Lagoon, and its onsite steakhouse, Sage Steak Loft, has become one of the most renowned restaurants in Condado under the tutelage of local celebrity chef Mario Pagan.

oliveboutiquehotel.com

Courtesy Acacia Boutique Hotel

Acacia Boutique Hotel

(787) 725-0668, 8 Calle Taft, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico

This restored 1920s Spanish villa just steps from Condado Beach offers hotel suites that are comfortable and understated without compromising elegance. With its customizable temperatures, Acacia’s pool-sized “outdoor tub” functions more like a jacuzzi and offers soothing seaside views. Be sure to make a reservation at Acacia’s onsite restaurant, Niche Bistro, an authentic French restaurant helmed by chef David Chaymol.

acaciaboutiquehotel.com

Courtesy Dream Inn PR

Dream Inn

(787) 200-6340, 2009 Calle McLeary, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico

Housed inside a concrete building with a bright red geometric facade, Dream Inn’s outdoor appearance reveals little about the zen oasis that awaits inside. A Buddha statue and koi pond adorn the lobby while hotel rooms are decorated in a minimalist style. The 13-room Ocean Park guest house is located just outside the bustle of Condado, but it is still steps away from the beach and many local bars and restaurants.

dreaminnpr.com

Courtesy The Dreamcatcher

The Dreamcatcher

(787) 455-8259, 2009 Cll España, San Juan, 00911, Puerto Rico

Located in Ocean Park, The Dreamcatcher is a cozy and relaxing bed and breakfast catered to vegetarians and vegans. It is the only such hotel in San Juan, offering locally-sourced breakfast, brunch and tasting dinners by local chefs. After eating their plant-based meals, guests have access to bike rentals, yoga classes, and a number of local tours including paddle boarding excursions and rainforest hikes.

dreamcatcherpr.com

Historic Hotels

Courtesy Caribe Hilton

Caribe Hilton

(787) 721-0303, 1 Calle San Gerónimo, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

A storied hotel in San Juan, the Caribe Hilton recently reopened in observance of its 70th anniversary. Caribe was the first Hilton hotel built outside the continental United States back in 1949. Soon thereafter, bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero invented the piña colada there. Today, guests can sip on the classic drink as they enjoy access to the hotel’s private beach and stunning views of the Condado skyline.

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Courtesy Condado Vanderbilt Hotel

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel

(787) 721-5500, 1055 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

Built in 1919 by railroad baron Frederick William Vanderbilt, this gem of Spanish Revival architecture was one of the first hotels built in what is now the upscale Condado neighborhood. Its prime oceanfront location and opulent interiors have attracted historical figures such as Charles Lindberg, Errol Flynn, Bob Hope, Arthur Rubinstein and President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. Today, it is still one of the most luxurious hotels in Puerto Rico and its 1919 restaurant is the pinnacle of fine dining in San Juan.

condadovanderbilt.com

Courtesy The Gallery Inn

The Gallery Inn

(787) 722-1808, 204 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

The Gallery Inn was the home of a Spanish artillery captain in the 1730s. In 1961, artist Jan D'Esopo transformed the building into a guesthouse and artist studio. The varying aesthetics of the hotel’s rooms result from nearly six decades of collecting art from the many artists who’ve called the Inn home for a few nights. Original art is on display in each room and sculptures adorn the property throughout. Amenities include a pool, multiple gardens, a wine deck and a music room where chamber music concerts are a regular occurrence.

thegalleryinn.com


Museums

Photography by Juan del Pueblo

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

(787) 977-6277, 299 Avenida José de Diego, San Juan, 00909, Puerto Rico

The permanent collection at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (Museum of Art of Puerto Rico) spans from the 17th century through today, including prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and new media. The museum’s sculpture garden is a highlight for visitors. For the locals, the institution hosts art workshops for children and adults as well as community events and film screenings year-round.

mapr.org

Courtesy Museo de las Américas

Museo de las Américas

(787) 724-5052, Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

Located within the Cuartel de Ballajá -- an imposing building that housed barracks for Spanish soldiers during the 18th century -- the Museo de las Américas exhibits ethnographic artifacts to educate visitors on the different cultures of the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia and, naturally, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The museum’s permanent collections examine indigenous and African culture's influence on the Americas.

Courtesy Museo de Arte y Diseño de Miramar

Museo de Arte y Diseño de Miramar

(787) 995-7063, 607 Calle Cuevillas, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

A French neo-classical residence painted bright pink and white now houses several exhibition halls dedicated to the history and development of design in Puerto Rico. The curatorial focus at the Museo de Arte y Diseño de Miramar is on the decorative arts, design and the plastic arts. Furniture and appliances are common focal points here, with exhibitions about the history of architecture in San Juan and contemporary art rounding out the experience.

madmi.org

Courtesy Casa Blanca Museum

Casa Blanca Museum

(787) 725-1454, 1 Calle San Sebastián, San Juan, 00926, Puerto Rico

Dating back to 1521, Casa Blanca is the oldest residence in San Juan. The white building was originally the home of Juan Ponce de Leon's family. Now a museum, visitors are welcome to take a stroll through its gardens for free. For a nominal fee, guests can visit its interior, which contains 16th century furniture and colonial and indigenous artifacts. As a bonus, the house provides one of the most spectacular views of San Juan Harbor.

Music and Dance

Courtesy La Respuesta

La Respuesta

1600 Ave Fernandez Juncos, San Juan, 00909, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s superstars perform at the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum, but for a taste of the city’s independent music talent, head to La Respuesta. The intimate venue hosts DJs and bands throughout the week, as well as performances by experimental theater groups and local drag queens. Visitors looking to party with the locals should take advantage of the venue’s multiple residencies, including Monday’s hip-hop, R&B and dancehall night.

larespuestasanturce.com

Courtesy La Placita de Santurce

La Placita de Santurce

(937) 557-3917, 179 Calle dos Hermanos, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

During the day, La Placita de Santurce hosts a farmer's market with overflowing fruit stands. Once the sun sets, the plaza transforms into a nightly block party. Visitors can dine at neighboring restaurants or sip on craft cocktails and cold Medalla beers onsite. Live bands and DJs play at nearby bars Marullo, Aguardiente and Taberna Los Vázquez, where patrons dance until the early hours of the morning.

la-placita-historical-landmark.business.site

Courtesy Carli's Fine Bistro & Piano

Carli's Fine Bistro & Piano

(787) 725-4927, 206 Calle de Tetuan, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

In 1998, pianist Carli Muñoz opened Carli’s Fine Bistro and Piano after touring with bands such as The Beach Boys in the ‘70s. The Old San Juan restaurant doubles as a music venue where Muñoz plays his favorite jazz, classic rock or bossa nova tunes. The space is ideal for a romantic dinner in San Juan, but visitors should reserve their table at the intimate restaurant with time.

carlisfinebistro.com

History

Courtesy Castillo San Felipe del Morro

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

(787) 729-6960, 501 Calle Norzagaray, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico

In the 16th and 17th centuries, three forts protected San Juan from pirate attacks and competing nations. One fort, La Fortaleza, became the governor’s mansion. The other two, Castillo San Felipe del Morro (known as El Morro) and Castillo San Cristobal, are now museums featuring exhibits about the military history and cultural development of San Juan. The entrance fee includes access to both forts.

nps.gov

Courtesy San Juan Bautista Cathedral

San Juan Bautista Cathedral

(787) 722-0861, 151 Calle del Cristo, San Juan, 00902, Puerto Rico

Built in 1521, the magnificent Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Old San Juan is the second-oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. Visitors can admire the stained glass windows, visit the tomb of Juan Ponce de Leon and learn the peculiar story of St. Pio, whose mummified remains are one of the church's reliquaries. Catholic mass is held on Saturday nights and Sundays mornings.

catedral-san-juan-bautista.business.site

Courtesy Universidad de Puerto Rico

Universidad de Puerto Rico

(787) 764-0000, 6, 2526 Av. Universidad #601, San Juan, 00925, Puerto Rico

The Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) is a hub of cultural activity, from poetry readings and book launches to art exhibits, concerts and theatrical performances. The university is home to several museums including the Museum of History, Anthropology, and Art; Museo Dr. Pío López Martínez and Museo Casa Roig. Near the main campus are the UPR Botanical Gardens, where visitors can take a relaxing stroll along the trails, visit the sculpture garden or attend workshops, seminars and family events.

uprrp.edu

Venues

Courtesy Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré

Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré

(787) 724-4747, 22 Avenida Juan Ponce de León, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico

The Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center, also known as the Centro de Bellas Artes, is San Juan’s multi-hall concert and theater space. Operas, ballets, plays and symphonic concerts are performed in the Pablo Casals Concert Hall, while the Carlos Marichal Experimental Box Theater and the Punto Fijo Theater Café present stand-up comedy and experimental theater pieces. In 2019, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda reprised his iconic role in the musical Hamilton at the Centro de Bellas Artes. The run of shows benefitted local arts organizations impacted by Hurricane Maria.

cba.gobierno.pr

Courtesy José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum

José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum

(787) 777-0800, 500 Avenida Arterial B, San Juan, 00918, Puerto Rico

With a capacity of 18,500, the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum is the largest concert venue in Puerto Rico. Located in Hato Rey, the Coliseum is also known as the “Choliseo,” a reference to local comedian José Miguel Agrelot's character, Don Cholito. Latin stars such as Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, Draco Rosa and Shakira have graced its stage, as have international sensations including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Lady Gaga and many others.

coliseodepuertorico.com

Courtesy Hiram Bithorn Stadium

Hiram Bithorn Stadium

(787) 294-1037, Av. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, San Juan, 00920, Puerto Rico

The Hiram Bithorn Stadium is a baseball stadium that typically hosts local baseball and soccer tournaments as well as Major League Baseball games. But the stadium doubles as a concert venue where National Salsa Day is celebrated each year with a day of live performances. The stadium’s parking lot hosts an annual Christmas fair, La Feria - The Park, which attracts locals with carnival rides, a Ferris wheel and roller coasters.

sanjuanciudadpatria.com