Travel to San Juan - Puerto Rico

(x0)  | By: cmcnair | 11,478 Views | 5 Replies

We are wanting to travel to san juan in february.  We would like any advice on reasonable hotels and great restraunts in the old town area or close to the old town area. We are taking our 8 year old son with us so we need a place that is family friendly.  Thanks !  cmcnair

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Hero Member11   Points

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In what country is san juan?
I suggest you to move your post to the right category, you posted it in general discussion,
You should move your post  under the right continent.

So what country do you refer where is San Juan?

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San Juan Puerto Rico  is a US territory in the Carribean.  Thought general discussion meant exactly that.  Just wanted advice from someone who has been there.

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Hi cmcnair,

I?ve been about 3 times to Puerto Rico, and I can tell you the following.,
San Juan, Puerto Rico is a city of excitement, enjoyment and enchantment.

The centerpiece of the city is Old Town. Here you could ? and should ? enjoy the many pleasures of San Juan at their footsteps. There's shopping, great dining, historical sites and plenty of pubclubbing. In fact, just strolling the streets of Old San Juan and seeing what presents itself is an engaging activity.
The streets are full of shops, restaurants, lounges and bars, so there's plenty of activities to last throughout the day. Or night. Or early morning.
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travel forumAn easy, causal way of seeing Old San Juan ? as well as a great way to get orientated ? is to take advantage of the free trolleys. Provided courtesy of Western Bank ? its location on Calle Recinto Sur is adjacent to the starting point, as well as the bus terminal ? they take visitors and even locals to spots throughout the city. The ones marked "City Hall" concentrate on the streets of Old Town while El Morrow Fort (as well as it's open-air cousin) takes a very scenic route by the sea up Calle Norzagaray, past the museums and eventually to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

Hotels in San Juan

San Juan has several hotels in various locations. For those wanting to stay in Old Town like you

Old Town Sheraton
Iis an ideal property. As the old real estate saying goes, the three most important words are "location, location, location." Situated directly across the new anchor-style Carnival cruise ship terminal and at the base of Old Town across from the water, the Sheraton has Old Town's prime location.

The nine-floor, 240-room hotel is the largest in Old San Juan. There are two restaurants, Fogata, a Latin American steakhouse that features breakfast and lunch buffets plus a Sunday brunch, and the more casual but quite filling Chicago Burger. Its casino is quite popular among locals and tourists and features live entertainment at night. Many of San Juan's top hotels have casinos, by the way.
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An outdoor pool with an inviting patio overlooking the water is an ideal place to relax. The Sheraton also has a fitness room. One particularly nice touch at the Sheraton is the friendliness of the employees; the maids leave a "have a nice day" note by the elevators and there's always someone to open one of its many doors to the streets of Old San Juan.

Some longtime visitors still refer to it as the Wyndham, but in fact it became a Sheraton in 2005. Room rates in the high winter season start at $295.

Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel
100 Brumbaugh Street
(787) 721-5100 ? Fax (787) 721-1111

El Convento Hotel

Located in the heart of historic Old San Juan, Hotel El Convento has set new standards of luxury, comfort and service while preserving the rich.

Stayed at El Convento for a week in December 2008.
Location ? Pretty much unbeatable if you want to stay in the Old City. Three sides of the hotel face onto quiet side streets, so there should not be too much noise from the numerous bars and restaurants near by.

100 Cristo St
San Juan, 00901
Puerto Rico

Building ? Converted convent with open galleries round a central courtyard, Very attractive but somewhat run down. Loads of character and this makes you feel that you are not an ordinary tourist but part of the Old City ?scene?

Room ? Classic colonial style with high ceiling. Quite spacious ? but again somewhat run down with odd bits falling off here and there. Air conditioning incredibly noisy and not really powerful enough. Even when turned off there was lots of obtrusive roar from the air conditioning duct
Balcony ? too hot to sit out most of the time.

Public areas ? great roof terraces with views over the old city and the seas ? probably one of the hotel?s nicest feature

Breakfast ? expensive. Best to have some of the hotel?s free coffee and go out to one of the local cafes.

Staff ? friendly and responsive, but facing an uphill battle keeping the old building running.

Food etc. Excellent free coffee and free bottled water available all the time. Free wine and cheese reception on roof terrace in evening really good and great opportunity to meet the other guests. Manager around to greet and chat to guest a really nice touch. Two bar/restaurants on site offer interesting tapas and local cuisine.

Other Accomodations Close to the Old City

Accommodations are more plentiful in the resort-type area of Isle Verde, about a mile from the airport ($20 taxi ride to Old Town).
Other good hotel locations are Miramir (adjacent to Old Town) and Ocean Park (halfway between Old Town and the airport).


Two Miles From Old San Juan
If you are on a buget this hotel is for you!!!, the mattress is hard like a brick so you mite not get enough rest. San Juan is only a 5 min bus ride...
I was really impressed with the hotel. Eventhough it?s not fancy, is very well kept and clean. Also, I met the owners that live in it, which is a plus to maintain the building in optimal condition. Also, the location is excellent, being close to Old San Juan, Condado, airport and restaurants. It doesn?t have much parking spaces, but it has a driveway around the building that is used as parking, although I don?t recommend to rent a car there. The rooms are very comfortable and spacious. Very nice!

Dining in Old Town ? San Juan Restaurants

San Juan has many fine restaurants to keep one's pallet pleased for the length of their San Juan stay.

Two main areas are filled with choices to fill the stomach. Calle Reciento Sur, the street just two blocks from the cruise ship terminal, has traditional Puerto Rican fare, Italian, Indian and other cuisine. Two blocks farther up, Calle Forteleza is a diner's paradise; dozens of small restaurants ? many of which turn into lounges and bars by midnight ? are side-by-side on both sides of the small one-way street.

One of the most popular is Dragon Fly, with its Asian-fusion menu. There's a good vibe in this lively place; to get a table on weekends check with the lovely hostesses for something around 8:30 or 9. Most locals, it must be pointed out, rarely go to dinner before 10.

Sonne is a cool restaurant and lounge with some of the best mojitos in Old Town. Small groups are best advised to sit at the bar and enjoy the live jazz band. It's a great place for a full meal or just appetizers.

And speaking of entertainment, Barrachina is not only the place where the pina colada was created but it combines a flamenco show on weekends with local food choices.

An interesting ? and outstanding ? local dish to try is mofongo churrasco, chunks of marinated beef or chicken surrounded by mashed fried plantains. The presentation at the popular Restaurante Recies is outstanding, in a tall coffee-mug-on-steroids container with a large plantain sticking out of one end like a feather in a cap. Wash it down with a tin cup of refreshing sangria ($5.50). It's $17.95 here for beef; a delicious pollo version is $13.95 at the Brick House.

The settings of these two places could not be more different. Recies is a nice, well-appointed restaurant on Calle Recinto Sur that is ultra-popular for lunch among the cruise shippers. The Brick House, by contrast, is a somewhat dingy sports bar that also features buffalo wings on the menu; after 10 on weekends, the place becomes a sort of nightclub. While often lively, it's hardly the setting for an intimate dinner.

Cheaper Eats ? Many of the restaurants along these two streets come with prices as steep as the uphill grade. That is to say it's not an exhausting trek to the top, but it can make the wallet a bit winded. Meals with drinks run in the $40-60 range.

Old Town does have a few less expensive alternatives.
Chicago Burger at the Sheraton will fill up anyone for less than $15. Popular among the cruise ship folks is Senior Frogs; the enchilada plate is big enough to feed two ? and we mean two grown men. The grown men will also appreciate the fact this is one of the few places in San Juan with sports on satellite TV. And, as a sure sign of American influence on Puerto Rico, there's a McDonald's and Subway.

For REALLY cheap eats, head to the food stands at the Ralces La Princess fountain. Pizza and empanadas are among the choices, all for about $2. The grilled sandwiches are the call here.

Away from Old San Juan ?  past Isla Verde. All along the coastal highway (Boca de Cangerios Ave, Highway 187) ? is some of the best eating on the island. Small food stands and shacks line the two-lane beach road along Carolina Beach, Los Caballos and Aviones. For those who literally want a true taste of Puerto Rico, this is the place

San Juan Where to Go & What to Do

From shopping to museums to a day at the fort to a tour of a rum distillery, there's a myriad of activities available in San Juan.

Walking the narrow cobblestone streets of Old San Juan and then suddenly emerging to a wide-open view of a beautiful blue ocean would seem to be enough of a self-guided sightseeing tour to satisfy any visitor to this historic city.

But look to the right and there is an inviting fort. Further up, to the left, is a much bigger fort, in fact a landmark of this land. Between the two are museums, a continued vista and a vibrant collection of San Juan's people and visitors.

Yes, there's much to do in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Take a walk ? or a ride ? with us on this sightseeing journey.


Naturally, shopping is a tourist attraction, particularly in Old San Juan. Leave some space in the suitcases for jewelry, locally made clothes, Puerto Rico trinkets and 3-for-1 tees.

The main street of Calle de La Fortaleza ? past all the restaurants ? is where to find many of the small specialty shops, even a tiny alleyway of sorts with local artifacts curiously called the La Calle Shopping Mall.

At the end of the street, turn right up Calle de Cristano to find some of the more upscale stores.

There are plenty of food choices along La Fortaleza and de Cristo. And to quench the thirst that invariably happens when walking streets and wandering in and out of shops (particularly among men), Barrachina is the original pina colada bar.

The Free Trolley

Old San Juan may be small enough to walk at a leisurely pace and take up an afternoon or even two, but since at least half of the walking requires going uphill (often in the Caribbean sun) it's nice to have a handy alternative.

And just when the feet start to drag, along comes a free shuttle to the rescue.

It goes chug, chug, through the city, past government buildings, along the sea, to the museums and eventually to del Morro.

It can be caught all over town, though the main station (and for buses, as well) is at the Western Bank office on Calle Reciento Sur. Note there are three trolleys, one marked City Hall which just goes through the center of Old Town, one marked El Morro Fort which goes to the fort, and an open-air national parks version which also goes right to the door of del Morrow.

Weather/When to Go

As the gateway to the Caribbean, San Juan enjoys a year-round tropical climate. Of course, that can also mean heat and humidity, but San Juan is fortunate enough to brag about an average temperature of 82F (28C). In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded in San Juan is 98F. So it's rarely sweltering.

The high season is December-April when the temperatures are a pleasant mid-70sF. This is also the peak cruise ship period. May-November is the relative down time, though one may have to reason with the hurricane season. Fortunately, San Juan is rarely affected by these fierce storms.

There are several festivals and celebrations in San Juan, none bigger than the San Sebastian Street Festival (third weekend of January), a multi-day street festival. Locals love it and it's ideal for hanging out.

Lets Sum it Up

For such a small town, Old San Juan is packed with information, history, shopping, music, dining and fun! The famous (and not so famous) historical sites in Old San Juan include Fort El Morro, Fort San Cristobal, Museum Casa Blanca, and the Princess Walk. Here one can really get a feel for what life was like during the times of the Spanish rule over the island. Old San Juan's plazas, mainly Plaza De Armas and Plaza Colon, are usually filled with local vendors, music, food, children playing, and sometimes demonstrations of sports or community plays and theatre. Calle San Francisco and Calle Fortaleza are the main shopping streets, which boast many jewelry ad souvenir shops, and Calle Cristo contains most of the designer label outlet stores, including Coach, Puma and Ralph Loren. There are many wonderful eateries, many of them specializing in Criollo (island) food, including Jiberito, Cafe Puerto Rico, and the hidden and wonderful Cafe El Punto. For lighter lunches, the bistro St. Germain is wonderful for lunch and brunch, with their menu of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, baked egg dishes and quiches. If possible, try to stay clear of the more expensive eateries on Fortaleza. In most cases, the food is not worth breaking your vacation bank, so eat smart. For other fun, there is an incredible art scene in Old San Juan. Many galleries (including the National Gallery in the cultural building off Calle Norzagaray) that present amazing pieces. One can find many art exhibits in restaurants and unexpected places as well. Senzala Tattoo, on Calle San Francisco, has amazing pieces of art hanging outside as well as inside the studio. Even if tattooing is not your thing, a in for the framed art and photography is highly suggested. Many vendors are also selling their paintings and sculptures, including local crafts, in the fairs by the cruise ship ports and plazas.

Hope that helps,
For more questions, do not hesitate to ask...

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Thanks so much for the wonderful information!  I will definitely take your advice and check out the Sheraton.    We are really looking forward to this trip .You have  been a great help.  Thanks for the pictures too!

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