When it’s 50 degrees in early May, nobody can blame us classy co-eds for dreaming of tropical weather and white sandy beaches. Those dreams can come true in sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico. Just a short flight from many major cities, San Juan is a low-budget summer getaway. If you can make it down there this summer, CL has compiled a list of 5 must-see places in San Juan.
1. El Caribe Hilton. On a co-ed budget, you likely can’t afford to stay at this Hilton. But you can certainly have a drink at the hotel bar, as long as you’re over 18. Have a sip of a cool, frothy piña colada, which was invented here in 1954. And if you are lucky enough to be able to spend the night, make sure to hit up the city’s only private beach.
2. El Morro, La Fortaleza, and Castillo de San Cristobal. San Juan’s many defensive structures no longer fight foreign invaders, but they remain an impressively imposing sight. These structures make up much of Old San Juan, the city’s historic district. Start at the fountain at the end of Paso de la Princes, and follow the stone wall all the way up to the Castle of San Cristobal. Watching the waters of the Pacific lap against the base of this centuries-old fort is a peaceful end to your day, especially if you go at sunset.
3. Isla Verde Beach. You can’t go to Puerto Rico and miss its biggest attraction: the beach! Go to the one closest to your hotel, because in Puerto Rico you really can’t go wrong. Need a change of scenery? Head to Isla Verde and relax on its famous white sand beaches, or swim in the calming waters. There is also a plethora of restaurants, stores and luxury hotels within walking distance.
4. El Yunque National Forest. OK, so this isn’t technically in San Juan. But at just an hour’s drive away, it’s too amazing to miss. El Yunque covers most of the island’s northeastern region and is the only rainforest in the United States National Forest System. See if you can find a coquí, the world’s smallest frog, only found in Puerto Rico. And if it’s not raining, take a dip in one of El Yunque’s several natural pools. Looking for an adventure? Several companies offer ziplining tours of the lush green forest.
5. Raíces. Looking for a taste of traditional Puerto Rico? Head to Raíces, located in Old San Juan, to sample all of the delicious Puerto Rican food they have to offer. Try the mofongo, which is essentially mashed fried green plantains stuffed with stewed meat or seafood. You might want to save this one for a special occasion though – Raíces can be pretty pricey.
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