A Caribbean Oasis Close to Home. Photo Credit: Roger Lynn
Nearly 500 years after being established by Spanish colonists, San Juan, Puerto Rico remains a thriving seaport and cultural hub where history weaves seamlessly with the present, and the smells of delicious cooking fill the air. With cheap tickets to San Juan – a city that’s just a short flight from most major United States airports – you can quickly find yourself in paradise.
Where to Stay
Carmelite nuns lived here for more than two centuries before the famed Hotel El Convento opened its doors to beach goers and tourists. El Convento has 58 hotel rooms decorated with handcrafted and antique furniture and Andalusian tile floors. Built in 1646, the landmark facility served as a place of service and sanctuary for nuns, before becoming a hotel in 1962. World leaders, celebrities and visitors from all corners of the globe have come to El Convento to explore Old San Juan. 
Explore on Foot
The  charming, narrow, blue cobblestone streets of San Juan line a kaleidoscope of pastel-colored buildings and homes are what characterize the old historic quarters of this city, with avenues dating back to the 16th and 17 centuries.  Stroll to the grand cathedral on Cristo Street or along Puente Dos Hermanos, Puente G. Esteves, and Puente San Antonio, and feel like you are walking through the pages of a history book. See the palace that once belonged to the family of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who sailed the New World in search of the "Fountain of Youth" and who later became Puerto Rico's first governor. Nearby, the Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a historic structure that delivers on a fantastic view of the bay and ocean. The castle's construction began in 1539 as a way to help Spain protect against unwanted guests. If your feet are getting tired from sightseeing, Old San Juan offers several small shops and cafes throughout where you can take a break and enjoy cafe con leche and traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.
What to Eat
On a hot day in San Juan, what could be more refreshing than a Piña Rosa at Cafe El Punto on Fortaleza Street in Old San Juan? Made with pineapple, strawberry, and banana, this tropical frappe is a local favorite, especially when paired with plantain fritters, stuffed avocado and rice and beans. Cafe El Punto is an Old San Juan tradition. Rosa de Triana is another favorite. A former jail cell converted into a restaurant, Rosa de Triana sits alongside a town square in Old San Juan and serves Spanish classics, including tapas, chorizo, and sangria. If you'd like to experience San Juan food in a unique way, San Juan Food Tours opened in 2009 and guides visitors throughout San Juan's kitchens, cafes, and cuisines.
As you can tell, we love San Juan! Do you have any favorite San Juan recs? As always, let us know on our Facebook page!
Photo Credit: Roger Lynn

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