For part of Holy Week and Easter weekend, Matt’s family and I visited the beautiful city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although technically a territory of the U.S., the whole trip I felt the wonder of being in a different country – unique culture, language barriers, and adventure. In a nut shell, you feel like you are in Spain with its architecture and cobblestone streets, and on an island with a mix of that Caribbean flair.
Short history lesson: Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean, near the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and was acquired by the U.S. in 1898 in the Spanish-American war. It is not an official state, but U.S. citizens can still travel to the territory without a passport and vice versa. San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico, its largest city and borders the Atlantic Ocean.
On to the good stuff…
-Where we stayed: We stayed in an airbnb in Old San Juan, right outside Plaza de Colon (Columbus square). You are at the heart of it all here, with lots of restaurants and cafes, a local grocer (market), and walking distance to most major landmarks within the city and gorgeous views of the Atlantic.
-My restaurant picks (what really matters):
- La Guerita: We went to this place three times! Its a great, inexpensive taco shop that has the best service, margaritas and tacos al pastor. They also have tvs for those of you who need to catch up on sports like my husband and future brother in law had to! haha
- The Mezzanine at St. Germain: A unique tapas bar and signature cocktail lounge on the second floor of an old colonial building. They play a great mix of music and has the decor and feel of an old speakeasy.
- La Madre: A hip Mexican restaurant with a modern flare on its cuisine and decor. They have about every flavor of margarita imaginable and their food is amazing. I ordered their version of the classic Puerto Rican dish – mofongo. (mashed plantains mixed with meat)
-What to see and do:
- The beach, of course.
- Segway Tours Puerto Rico: I was a little apprehensive at first, because I usually like to walk around and do my own thing, but Puerto Rico is hot and muggy, so zooming around the city in under two hours is well worth it. They take you to the famous, El Morro fort and other important landmarks worth seeing in the city.
- Casa Bacardi: They offer a historical, rum tasting and mixology tours. We did the rum tour and loved it! Maybe a little too much 😉 You get a tour of the grounds, the rum distillery and of course a rum tasting. I’m not a big rum girl, but it was interesting tasting the different types and qualities. I would go hydrated, because you definitely get your moneys worth! *you will need a taxi to get here if staying in Old San Juan
- El Yunque Rainforest: You can purchase tickets and walk around on your own or go with a tour. We recommend using Louie’s VIP Tours. Lizmar is a firecracker and will keep you both informed and entertained. It’s about a half-day tour, walking through the rain-forest, opportunity to swim near the water fall and a delicious lunch on site (lunch not included). The tour will also pick up and drop off where you are staying.
- Bio-luminescent Bay: We weren’t able to do this one, but it came highly recommended by many people. The tours are at night, when you can see the glow of the tiny organisms within the bay.
-Looking for some night life? The night life scene is all along Calle San Sebastian and Calle San Jose. We enjoyed a little pub, called La Taberna Lupulo – it’s not crazy loud, they play good music and have a huge craft beer selection. We didn’t hit any clubs, but heard that La Factoria was another great tapas and signature cocktail bar, where you could also go to dance.
and that sums it up! Puerto Rico truly is a hidden gem as far as the U.S. goes and will not disappoint. I’ll let you see for yourself. More photos from the trip…