SAN JUAN CULTURE

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Welcome to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The heart and soul of the Caribbean!

Puerto Rico is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea consisting of the main island, four small islands, and hundreds of cays and islets. The island territory is only 100 miles long and 35 miles wide (8,870 square kilometers). Still, it packs a fantastic diversity of sights, scenery, and culture.

The real charm of Puerto Rico is its people. The people of the Island are charismatic, hospitable, super joyful, and passionate. They will make you feel like you belong and will even invite you to dance with them. Boricuas, as we call the locals, are optim
istic and energetic people, proud of their cultural heritage and history, which emerges from a mix of Taíno, Spanish, and African traditions.

🌴Discover

San Juan

Discover the San Juan neighborhood that has emerged as the capital of art in the Caribbean. 

Colorful, vibrant, and artsy, that is Santurce! Reminiscent of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District or Chicago’s West Loop, this San Juan district’s fizzy personality is the result of a community of artists coming together year after year to “fix-up” a forgotten neighborhood. The community of artists grew into a movement motivated by the idea that art can change and heal buildings as well as people.

Santurce sits just 10 minutes outside Old San Juan and is one of the island’s most free-spirited neighborhoods and every corner is splashed with creativity. Santurce is where many artists claim that the street art movement started developing in Puerto Rico, and a tour around its streets can show you why. Over the years, it has become one of the largest art districts in the Caribbean, establishing world-renowned festivals such as Los Muros Hablan and Santurce es Ley. The neighborhood is home to impressive art galleries and museums, but all you need is step outside and look around to enjoy the ever-changing canvas.

Spanning 500 years of history,

 Old San Juan

is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic and treasured places in Puerto Rico. Wander the cobblestone streets to soak up the unique architecture and colorful streets. You’ll find fun local shops and lively restaurants and bars scattered throughout the old city. Learn more about the history of the many 500-year-old buildings, local cuisine, and even visit the place where one of the most popular drinks was born, . 

🌴Explore

Few landmarks are more representative of Puerto Rico’s legacy within the Caribbean and the Americas than Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Learn the history behind one of Spain’s major military engineering marvels: from colonization to the Second World War.

El Morro Explore a 400 Year Old Fort

El Morro Fort, or officiallyCastillo de San Felipe del Morro, stands guard at the entrance to San Juan harbor as a reminder of a by-gone era when invading countries would attempt sea attacks to take this prized city and harbor.

This beautiful 6-level fort was named in honor of Spain’s King Philip II. The Fort wasn’t initially built as the huge structure that you see today. It has gone through many enlargements and modifications, from the time it was first constructed by Spain through the time that it was occupied by the US Army.

In its last test of strength, El Morro stood as a protector of San Juan during the Spanish-American war.

Paseo de La Princesa.

If you have ever walked along Paseo La Princesa, you have probably noticed an area along the ancient city wall that has statues, fountains, and other park-like features. This little park has been behind locked gates for as long as we can remember.

Now, as of October 2014, the park — called the Jardín de la Princesa — has been refurbished, the gardens have been replanted, a small playground has been constructed, and the locked gates have been opened to the public, for all to enjoy!

Ever since we first started exploring Old San Juan, we always peeked through the locked gates into the green park-like area on the north side at the eastern end of Paseo de la Princesa.

San Juan, Puerto Rico at Paseo de la Princesa on the Caribbean Sea.

🌴Get To Know 

 La Perla

Explore the Old San Juan neighborhood made famous by “Despacito.”

The music video for the 2017 Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee megahit set off a touristic boom in the colorful barrio built outside Old San Juan’s city walls. But long before “Des-pa-cito” got stuck in everyone’s head, La Perla’s residents and local organizations were already driving a profound transformation within their community.

In the years leading up to filming the video, houses were painted bright colors, murals appeared around the squares, and new businesses started to crop up taking advantage of La Perla’s unique vantage point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Today, visitors can experience a different side of the walled city, and community leaders hope tourism can contribute to the growth and development of what has for generations been one of the most underserved and economically disadvantaged sectors of San Juan.

Santurce

The Santurce neighborhood, home to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, among many other galleries and local shops, is located very close to the Condado district, and about 20 minutes from Old San Juan. The area has become an arts and culture hub with many buildings displaying murals, and galleries showing works by local artists.

Food is also a big deal in Santurce. You can find elegant restaurants alongside little pop-up eateries at gastronomy parks (Lote 23). La Placita de Santurce (Santurce Marketplace), offers tradition, live music, culture, and authentic local food all-in-one vibrant stop. Farmers sell their fresh produce during the day, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and local dishes, and a block party-style celebration takes place on weekend nights.

La Parada 22

Sculptures bigger than life!

Street art in Santurce is not limited to the walls of a building, and you’ll find other mediums represented as well. One of the most notable installations is the “Aguacates” at La Placita de Santurce. Puerto Rico’s “favorite fruit” was part of the city’s Urban Art Project, which aimed to restore the now-popular market square. The avocados complement the traditional architecture of la plaza del mercado and make for a great spot to take pictures before (or after) grabbing a drink and dancing at one of the many bars around it.

Created by the Annex Burgos (who was also responsible for the avocados sculpture), you can walk around demi-gods known as “Las Musas” in front of the Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré. These nine bronze sculptures derive from actual models and represent the nine disciplines of art in Greek mythology: song, dance, literature, architecture, design, plastic arts, film, music, and theater. Beyond the dramatic sculptures out front, the Centro de Bellas Artes hosts a variety of cultural performances throughout the year, so check their schedule during your visit to see the equally impressive interior of the performance hall.

🌴Party 

Music and Dancing in Puerto Rico

Speaking of enchanting, the Island’s contagious musical rhythm is sure to delight you. The Island’s sounds range from traditional salsa to bomba y plena, a contagious dance inspired by Puerto Rico’s African roots. Bring your dancing shoes because the musical culture on the Island is alive, vibrant, and too good to miss.

All year-round, you can hear Puerto Rico’s energetic and vibrant culture through the music that blankets the Island. Whether you’re looking for upbeat salsa or a softer beat like the trova, the tropical flavor of Puerto Rico makes its way into the songs, music, and artists of the Island. You’ll have to go out on the town and dance the night away to understand it!

La Placita de Santurce

Is a must stop for anyone visiting Puerto Rico. The location was founded more than 100 years ago as a two-tiered market square. The market was a place where people could buy fruits, vegetables, meat, and much more. Nowadays, during the day it functions as a market place with some open restaurants. In the evening, beginning at 6:00 pm, the famous Placita de Santurce fully comes to life. You’ll find recognized restaurants and local kiosks that sell fried foods like empanadillas, alcapurrias, and bacalaítos. The atmosphere is livelier from Thursday through Sunday, when locals flock here to hang out, have drinks, and dance salsa.

  Calle Loíza 

Lined with trendy cafés and restaurants is Calle Loiza known as Santurce’s “foodie and arts” avenue. As you explore the area, you’ll notice that all the storefronts and buildings are covered in art – from murals to graffiti and mosaics.

Most of Calle Loíza is a mashup of brightly colored street art, but one of the most Instagram-famous is “Loíza Brinca,” located on a corner building that features the entire Puerto Rican flag. Another popular mural sits just outside Sabrina, a trendy place for brunch, and you’ll find others across from Café Tresbé. Dubbed “Tropical Paradise,” it is a flowery masterpiece by local artist Natalia Rodríguez. You can also get lost among robots when you pass by Prros Locos, where the Elgel Group spray-painted multicolored bionic people on the storefront’s gate. These are only a few examples of the different pieces that might catch your eye in this part of town.

La Cerra

Fun Fact. For 12 year of my life I was raised here. Calle Cerra #724 Santurce P.R. 00927

At the Beginning: Calle Cerra

Crossing over the Fernández Juncos Avenue is Calle Cerra, known for having the greatest concentration of graffiti art and murals in the area. Calle Cerra was the birthplace of the annual street art festival Santurce es Ley nearly ten years ago, and every year the concepts on the walls get bigger, bolder, and more breathtaking. You can start there and loop your way around the adjacent streets for surprising findings. Because of the festivals’ rules, which states that artists can only paint during the official events (generally held in December), you may encounter unfinished pieces in a few spots. Despite the rough appearance of some places, if you look beyond the façade, you’ll find an array of restaurants and cafés that support the artsy vibes of the neighborhood.

At El Patio de Solé, the restaurant is built in the owner’s family home and serves traditional dishes like abuelita used to make. Other restaurants like Musa, La Penúltima, El Axolote, and Grazziani offer experiences where you can relish great food and art.

 

El Boricua

This has been a favorite hangout for University of Puerto Rico students since 1979. El Boricua attracts a mixed crowd, though, thanks to the live music including salsa, jazz, DJs, and more.

Condado

Fall in love with Condado, San Juan’s most luxurious district.

Condado’s oceanfront, tree-lined community offers an array of elegant hotels, restaurants, boutiques and more. Everything is within walking distance, including stunning beaches where you can dine at beachside restaurants, go paddle boarding in the lagoon, take a yoga class or just relax in the sun. Condado’s laid-back luxury means access to everything from upscale shops to exclusive entertainment. Stroll down Ashford Avenue – the Puerto Rican “Fifth Avenue” – where exquisite eateries and opulent shopping await. World-renowned brands such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, and more have a presence on the Avenue, as well as boutiques by local designers like Nono Maldonado, Lisa Thon, Harry Robles, and Ecliptica.

🌴5Days of Breakfast/Brunches

Not in order of day or preference.

1. La Coffeetera

Whether it’s our famous brunch, delicious lunches and tapas, or craft beer and cocktails, we’ll show you a good time.

Located in the heart of Ocean Park- next to the beach, La Coffeetera has the proud distinction of being one of the trendiest restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We are locally owned and operated since 2017.

2. Kasalta

Oldest Spaniard Bakery. US Presidents has to this place to have breakfast.

3. Musa

Caribbean Fusion at its fines

4. Cafeteria Mayorca

This place is over 75 years old in the heart of Old San Juan. Best Traditional Puerto Rican Breakfast around.

 5. Los Cidrines

This bakes the softer bread in the island “Pan Sobao” also known as rubbed bread. Soft sweet and delicious.

🌴4 Nights of Local Dinning

Not in order of day or preference.

Asesre  

Asere is Fine Puerto Rican & Cuban Cuisine! Taken from the best influences of Spanish, African, French and Caribean flavors. Here, the old and the new Cuba comes to life! The elegance of the Caribbean”s Paris of the 50’s (as Cuba was known) is showcased in a variety of elegant delights, while the local flavors of today’s Cuba come to life with authentic recipes from underground world of home-based restaurants in the island. Asere is located in front of one of the most flavorful Farmers Markets in PR, Santurce’s La Placita. The old Spanish architecture gives life to a 2 story building desingned in detail to let you live the experience of visiting the legendary Cuba of the 50’s and the hidden world of today’s Cuban underground fine-dinning culture. Asere in Cuban slang means “hello,my friend!!!” so come around to La Placita in Santurce and experience the best in Cuban cuisine, Asere!

2.El Viejo Almacen

La Pizzería Del Viejo Almacén; Pizza al estilo Argentino que tanto nos ha caracterizado por muchísimos años.

An Argentine Pizza Joint

3. Los Pinos 

Located in the Heart of the Miramar neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Los Pinos Restaurant is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. We specialize in Latin American and Caribbean Food at affordable prices. A favorite of sanjuaneros.

4.Bohemia Cocina En Movimiento

We are a culinary expression with the aim of designing experiences, always with the personalized service that distinguishes us. Conceptually we are not a restaurant and breaking with the established leads us to live great moments.

 

🌴Rums Adventures

not in any oder of preference.

Bacardi Factory

The most popular rum in the world is made in Cataño, at Casa Bacardí, the world’s largest premium rum distillery. Created in 1862, Bacardí Superior was presented to the world, a refined white rum perfect for mixing popular cocktails. Its classic vanilla and almond details are developed through a secret blend of charcoal in a white oak barrel. The secret of Bacardí is that it is smooth and does not dominate or overpowers your drink.

Be sure to arrange a tour through its distillery and live the experience of filling up your bottle with the Legacy line, a double-aged rum in barrels previously used for bourbon and finished off in sherry barrels.

or

Ron del Barrilito

The oldest rum in Puerto Rico is praised for its deep and intricate whiskey-like profile. It has been aged in the same place – Hacienda Santa Ana – for the past 100 years. Story says that this rum’s formula was developed back in the 17th century and it is the same formula that the family uses today, which lends the spirit’s character. The profile is developed in Spanish Sherry barrels from two to over 10 years, creating layers and layers of complexity. Tasting it is a discovery on its own, given that it aims to wake up all the senses in a spectacular manner.

So, stroll down the old Santa Ana estate and sip the rum from “the little barrel”.

🌴Spectacular Views

With more Food & Booze.

El New Reef

Carr 187 km 8.0 Bo Torrecilla Baja

Just minutes from San Juan and the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU), you can find the Afro-Caribbean coastal neighborhood of Piñones. Full of delicious authentic street food, made in the traditional fogón, the many little chinchorros (small dining stands) offer fritters made from plantain, fresh fish, oysters, and a lot sazón. You can also buy cold coconut water, drink it from the coconut itself, or try the crabmeat alcapurrias and bacalaítos(codfish fritters). The weekend is particularly busy if you want to find a bustling local scene. If you want to relax before you eat, be sure to bring your swimsuit and dive in at a nearby beach (wait 45 minutes after eating before you swim).

El Yunque Rainforest

Spend One Day at the national Rain forest

PR-191, Río Grande

Located in Río Grande, on the east side of the Island, El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest that is part of the U.S. National Forest System. Home to more than 240 types of trees, unique birds, native species like the coquí frog, and beautiful scenery, the forest spans 28,000 acres of land that includes 25 waterfalls, several rivers, and ancient petroglyphs of Taíno deities.Only a one hour drive from San Juan, you can either navigate it on your own or take a guided tour to get to the most popular locations. Choose between hiking, ziplining, or horseback riding, and fall in love with the astonishing view from the top of the forest overlooking the region’s lush valleys.

Email xcursionsinmotion@gmail.com for more details and to reserve your spot