Puerto Rico is a corner of America that too often goes unsung. Old San Juan’s cobbled lanes and brightly colored houses, forts, and churches offer a glimpse into the El Carib colonial past of the island. Beyond the cities and towns, lush rainforests, craggy mountains, and white sand beaches abound. You can hike to waterfalls, dive reefs, zip line through forest canopies, or just savor a little rum while bobbing in the ocean.
Of course, it’s impossible to escape the fact that Puerto Rico was smashed by a hurricane last year. In the months since the storm subsided, Hurricane Maria has spiraled into one of the deadliest natural disasters in US history. But though parts of the island took a severe blow, most businesses were open within weeks. These days, the tourist infrastructure is completely on track, and the locals need your tourist dollars to help support the rebuilding efforts in heavily affected areas and keep the economy on track.
It’s worth noting here, that Puerto Rico is also very much America — if you’re into that sort of thing. Every town has a CVS or Walgreens right alongside a Wendy’s or Starbucks, often right next to an absurdly beautiful beach. This gives the whole place a familiar tone while still feeling far away and exotic. So go! Drink too many piña coladas. Relax an entire week away. Meander Old San Juan. Eat all the lobster. It’ll be a blast.
LA FACTORIA IN OLD SAN JUAN
Old San Juan is a pleasant stroll. The two-story houses are painted to catch the eye. There are ancient-feeling churches, fortified castles, and dusty museums. In between, shops hawk touristy talismans and bars offer discounts on beer and frothy Caribbean drinks. Within the tourist fray, you’ll find a temple to booze that can easily stand amongst the best of them around the world: La Factoria.
During the day, you can chill in the well-staffed bar on the corner of Calle San Sebastian and Calle San Jose. The huge windows and doors will be thrown open to the streets and you can sip on a perfectly crafted cocktail while you watch the world go by. At night, several other on point bars open inside. Wine bars, salsa bars, and discos create a uniquely Puerto Rican atmosphere that’ll keep you hyped and leave you hooked.