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Urban Caribbean: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Urban Caribbean: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Urban Caribbean: San Juan, Puerto Rico

From Havana to Santo Domingo, it’s all about culture and cuisine instead of sand and sun in these tropical hot spots.

Photo by Maxym (Left). Photo by Shutterstock (Right).

While most travelers catch Puerto Rico’s capital as a rushed cruise ship call or layover between beaches, Old San Juan — with its 16th-century infrastructure, its churches, and the Morro Castle — is well worth a visit in its own right. The burial place of the legendary Ponce de León is indeed a haven for history buffs, but travelers will be treated to the vibrant cultural pulse of this Latin American hot spot as well. 

Wander around Calle del Cristo to uncover artisan studios, boutiques, and excellent galleries, including Galería Botello (, which features works from the eponymous Spanish artist. Visit the SoFo (South of Fortaleza) neighborhood for delicious local meals — go for grilled oysters at the Parrot Club, or the ceviche tasting menus at its sister property Aguaviva ( across the street. Puerto Ricans love to party, and for the best gay nightlife experience, leave the old city behind and head to the Santurce area for dancing and drag shows.

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Jerry Portwood