As I mentioned in my previous post, a few weeks ago, Cesar and I and the girls went to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a long weekend trip. Some friends of ours got married on a military base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. We had been talking about going to Puerto Rico for quite a while, so when the opportunity arose, we jumped on it. After hours upon hours of research by the money conscious spouse in our marriage (that would be me), we decided our best bet would be to stay in San Juan and commute the 2 1/2 hours to Aguadilla the day of the wedding.
We were nervous that Puerto Rico would not be kid friendly, but were pleasantly surprised that it was. We walked around everywhere with our double stroller (which is approximately the size of a small SUV) and everywhere we went was very accommodating. There were lots of things for kids to do, too, so we were really glad we brought the them with us. Sophia had a lot of fun and so did Emma (sleeping, eating, and pooping 98% of the weekend away).
When We Went:
For 4 days in the end of August-beginning of September
Where We Stayed:
We stayed in the heart of Old San Juan at the Sheraton Old San Juan. I would recommend this hotel to anyone and everyone. It is right by the cruise port, so we heard it can get pretty busy/loud when the cruise ships dock, we didn’t have any problem whatsoever.
We stayed on the top floor (9th), which was perfect because the hotel’s pool is located on that floor. The room itself was huge. Nothing really special, but there was a lot of room to move around, which is helpful when traveling with two young kids and all the loot that accompanies them.
When booking our hotel room, I booked it through an online travel site as a package with our flights and rental car. Something somewhere between the travel site and the hotel got mixed up and we had a bit of a problem checking in, but the check-in receptionist and on-duty manager figured it out and were very nice about it.
Where We Ate:
Genesis Restaurant (Old San Juan, PR)- This restaurant was right outside of our hotel. After we checked in on Thursday night, we wandered around and found this place. Their specialty was mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made with mashed plantains usually served with some kind of meat on top. We were excited to try it and it certainly did not disappoint!
Cafe Manolin (Old San Juan, PR)- Breakfast on Friday morning. It was good but nothing to get too excited about.
SOS Burger (Cataño, PR)- We ate at SOS Burger on a whim. After Casa Bacardi (in Cataño) on Friday, we took the shuttle back to the ferry dock and planned to ride back across the river to OSJ and get something to eat there. Almost directly across from the ferry dock sits a little old shack looking building that ended up serving us the best (and by far the cheapest) meal of our trip! What drew us in was a.) it was 250 degrees outside and we needed drinks, and b.) there was some good music coming out of that little old place. Turns out, the reggae music coming out of there was being played live by Jorge, who we assumed was the owner of the restaurant (still don’t know whether he was or not, but he was the only one who worked there). Sophia, Cesar, and I all three ate pastelillos (basically pastries with savory meat or cheese filling), a juice, a Diet Coke, and a Heineken for about $15. Talk about a bargain!
Fueguito (San Juan, PR)- This restaurant is a cool Argentinean restaurant inside the mall that we ate at on Friday night. They had tons of restaurants in Plaza Las Americas, which was very strange to me because at our mall, we pretty much have Sbarros and Panda Express. There was two parts of the restaurant, Tierra de Fuego (a sit down part) and Fueguito (order at the counter then they bring the food to your table. We opted for Fueguito because the mall was almost ready to close. We really liked this place, and it came with a ton of food for the money.
Panadería y Repostería Flor de Asturias (Carolina, PR)- Before the Museo del Niño on Saturday morning, we ate at this place suggested by a local. If you have no Spanish skills, you might want to skip out on this place because this is not a touristy area, and it didn’t seem that a lot of people around here spoke a lot of English at all. Hopefully you do know at least a couple words though, because this palace was worth stopping at! We had sandwiches here, which were delicious! A little weird eating sandwiches for breakfast, but that’s what everyone else was eating. You know what they say…when in Rome…
Cafe Mallorca (Old San Juan, PR)- This restaurant was suggested to us by the hotel concierge for a quick breakfast before heading to the airport on Saturday morning. It was within walking distance from the hotel (maybe 7 blocks or so). Their claim to fame are their mallorcas (a kind of sweet bread), but we ate just plain eggs and toast. It was pretty good though and we were in and out of there quick.
What We Did:
Walked around checking out the streets and sights in Old San Juan- This picture was taken early (uh, 9am) morning. It is pretty quiet in Old San Juan in the mornings. We really liked wandering the streets in OSJ, but because of our lack of time, didn’t get to do it as much as we would’ve liked.
Casa Bacardi- Fun just to do it. It cost Cesar and I each 50 cents for the ferry (kids were free) and about $3 for the shuttle, but the Casa Bacardi tour itself was free. It was pretty cool to hear stories of how the company came about and hey, you get two free drinks apiece (and kids get two free juice or soda coupons).
Castillo San Felipe del Morro- We showed up too late in the day for the tours, so we just wandered around by ourselves, but it was still neat to see. There were tons of restaurants and shops around, as well as lots of street vendors.
Ate piraguas from a street vendor near the fort- Piraguas are Puerto Rico’s version of a snow cone. There are vendors near the fort who have little carts with a big ol’ block of ice and a whole bunch of syrups. They hand shave the ice, pour your flavor on top, and serve you your piragua either through your car window or not. I got piña (pineapple) and Cesar got parcha (passionfruit).
Shopped at Plaza las Americas- It’s no secret…I love shopping, much to my husband’s dismay. This was the biggest mall I’ve ever been to, I’m pretty sure. There were tons of shops and restaurants, and we didn’t even make it around the whole mall in the couple hours we were there.
Visited Museo del Niño in Carolina, PR- Sophia absolutely loved this place. I wish we had more time here than we did, but she had such a great time here. It was $10 each for Cesar and I and $6 for Sophia, and well, well worth the price. I was very surprised at how few people were there though.
Well then. That post was a lot longer than expected, but I’ll finish up real quick…
Overall, I absolutely loved Puerto Rico. You feel like you are a world away from home, but from Jacksonville, we were just a 2 1/2 hour flight and didn’t even need passports. It was also a very cheap trip, all things considered, compared to other trips we have taken and/or want to take. Cesar and I would love to go back, but we are thinking about going for a weekend just the two of us so we can experience the Old San Juan nightlife that everyone talked about. We would definitely recommend Puerto Rico for a family vacation and look forward to hopefully going back someday!