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San Juan PR: 8 Great Reasons to Visit!

Updated on November 28, 2011
La Playa
La Playa
Old San Juan
Old San Juan

Beautiful San Juan

After enjoying an authentic pina colada (visit Barrachina, the birthplace of the pina colada), there is lots to do in San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico - known as the "Island of Enchantment." Here you can spend the American dollar and as an added benefit -- you do not need a visa or a passport.

San Juan is a metropolitan area that is modern, bilingual (Spanish and English) and multicultural. Find lots of adventures outdoors on the sunny island, but you can also pop indoors for a bit of shopping and art appreciation at the museums.

Things to do in San Juan, Puerto Rico:

OUTDOORS

Once you roll off the beach, where temperatures average the mid 80s year round - you can visit:

1 - Old San Juan - Enjoy a walk along the narrow cobbled streets of the old walled city, where you will find loads of shops and plenty of places to stop to have a drink. You can also tour the neighborhood in a horse-drawn carriage, or on a free trolley.

2 - National Historic Sites - There are 3 famous forts here to visit: the San Felipe del Morro, the San Cristobal, and the San Juan de la Cruz. The forts are part of the U. S. National Park Service, and the tours--led by rangers--are free.

3 - El Yunque National Forest - There is only one tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System and this is it - the beautiful El Yunque National Forest. Take some rain gear so you can enjoy the many waterfalls and lagoons, as well as all the wildlife, trees and 150 species of ferns. The forest has 28,000 acres.

4 - National Botanic Gardens - Filled with tropical plants, this 200 acre oasis also includes sculpture and fountains. Be sure to visit the Orchid Garden where you will find over 30,000 flowers. Then there is the Monet Garden, fashioned after the artist's water lily garden in France. You can grab a bench here, and relax and take it all in.

5 - Escambron Beach/Playa Escambron - If you are ready for the beach, here is one of the easily accessible islets of Old San Juan. The pristine public beach has white sand, palm trees, and calm, crystal clear waters making it an ideal place to snorkel. The beach is near the Luis Munoz Marin Park. Additionally, you can find restaurants and waterfront bars.

INDOORS

6 - Art Museum of Puerto Rico - This museum covers the island history from pre-colonial times to the present. Housed in 13,000 square feet, you can also step outside to enjoy the sculpture garden and the native plants. For modern art, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art.

7 - Where to Shop - There are many places to shop in San Juan, including the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean - the Plaza las Americas. For name brand outlets and artisan shops, there is the Calle del Cristo.

THE Pina Colada:

8 - And of course have a pina colada - created in 1963, at the San Juan restaurant, Barrachina. The restaurant is located one block from La Fortaleza (the Governor's Mansion). This is THE most famous drink of Puerto Rico. Created by Ramon Portas Mingot, the pina colada is made with fresh pineapple, coconut cream and of course rum!

For more warm lush places to visit see the links below:

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    • Nikki D. Felder profile image

      Nikki D. Felder 6 years ago from Castle Hayne, N.C.

      My family was scheduled to visit El Yunque, but Hurricane Bertha hit and it was closed on our last day on the island. Puerto Rico was absolutely beautiful! I also enjoyed going to the underground caves! Thank you, Nikki D. Felder

    • TheListLady profile image
      Author

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome James A Watkins - and thanks so much for your first-hand experience in San Juan. It's a lovely recommendation!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      I spent a week in San Juan once, my only visit there. I loved it! Old San Juan was my favorite place. I also rented a car and drove all the way around the island, and that was great fun. Plus, I drove down the middle of the island and back, which is beautiful landscapes. Thank you for an excellent guide.

    • GreenThumbLady profile image

      GreenThumbLady 7 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

      This definitely looks like a place I would enjoy going to. I love that you listed the best things to see and places to go. This is just perfect. Thanks!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

      Well now! I agree with theherbivorehippi - I must add this to my list of places to go! I could use that Pina colada right now :)

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Perhaps I need to add this to my list of places to go!! Looks fabulous! gosh I need a vacation! I could just hide under that waterfall for a day or so. lol

    • TheVacationLady profile image

      TheVacationLady 7 years ago from Everywhere

      ooooh the cobblestone road just caught my attention! I have never been here actually. I love that waterfall! That looks like something truly special. Wonderful hub! RAted up for sure!!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I love the National Forest. I don't know where else to see such a place that is so accessible. Lovely. And the botanic gardens - those are my kind of places.

      It's a great, convenient, close place to visit and yes, no passport needed and just bring your dollars, have a pina colada and chill out.

      Thanks a lot and rated up.