If you live where the wind hurts your face 4 or more months out of the year, cold destinations are not always on your must-see list during those months. Being a born and raised California girl, I do love my warm sand between my toes and the salty ocean breeze on my skin. I do love the mountains and the snow as well though. Katie and I like to bundle up and head to destinations where more layers during these “off-peak” months, but where can you go without breaking the bank to escape the cold?
One of my favorite places I have visited has been Puerto Rico. Rich in history and vibrant culture, San Juan is not to be missed!
Castillo San Felipe del Morro – Likely the most recognized site for visitors, this UNESCO site is a must-see! With views that span across the Atlantic Ocean, take in the beauty and magnitude of the 16th century fort. Overflowing with history, the site offers tours and self-guided exploration.
Old San Juan – Steeped in the colorful beauty of France and Spain the streets of Old San Juan are intoxicating.
Castillo San Cristobal – Built by Spain, for over 300 years the tunnels and walls have been protecting San Juan. Incredible views and rich history, two of my favorite things!
Bacardi Rum Factory – I love rum and enjoy learning about the processes to making alcohol. Visiting the factory will offer a unique experience and insight to how their process has changed, and not changed, over the years. Enjoy a welcome drink and learn all about this history of Bacardi in Puerto Rico!
El Yunque – Hire a local guide or rent a car and explore the rainforest with an unmatched hike just a little ways outside of the city.
Historical San Juan Tour – Take a guided walking tour from one of the local companies or download a self-guided walking map!
Barrachina– Birthplace of the Pina Colada! Amazing and truly authentic cuisine at reasonable prices. My go-to any time I visit! A beautiful atmosphere with friendly and attentive staff. They were great with helping me to decipher the menu with dietary restrictions and recommended places to visit in the city.
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery – If you like the tranquility and history found in cemeteries as we do, then take a stroll around Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery near El Morro. A colonial-era cemetery, it faces the sea and is the final resting place for prominent Puerto Ricans like Jose Celso Barbosa, Miguel Ángel Álvarez and Jose de Diego.
The Capitol Building – Constructed between 1925 and 1929, the capitol building faces the Atlantic Ocean and possesses an imposing and impressive countenance. It is recommended that visits be reserved/scheduled.
Casa Blanca – Built for Ponce de Leon in 1521, the house is now a museum displaying 16th and 17th century artifacts and life. Ponce de Leon never lived in the home, however, as he died during an expedition to Florida. His family did occupy the residence though. This is a relaxing museum to visit without a lot of crowds.
San Juan is a city that is bursting with experiences. The beauty and tenacity of the city and her people are matched only by their kindness and passion. If you are looking for an escape from the freezing winter weather, needing to feel the sunshine and breathe in the salty perfume of the ocean and immerse yourself in culture and history, the consider San Juan!
“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~ Emylee