• Jessica Drake

Destination Spotlight - San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is a bustling metropolis that has evolved from its nearly 500 year-old colonial roots to become one of the most important cities in the Americas. Spanish colonists, who called it Ciudad Puerto Rico (or “Rich Port City”), founded the 77 square-mile city in 1521.

The city is divided into neighborhoods such as Old San Juan, Puerta de Tierra, Miramar, Santurce and Río Piedras, where most of the cultural attractions are concentrated. The Condado and Ocean Park neighborhoods are ideal destinations for beach lovers, who can enjoy their spectacular turquoise-blue waters and white, sandy shores. The two neighborhoods are also known for their world-class hotels and late-night entertainment.

At the heart of the city is Old San Juan, a magnificent 47 square-mile islet that is connected to the rest of the town via two bridges. The walled city is host to Spanish-era architectural sites, such as La Fortaleza, the oldest executive mansion in continuous use in the Americas. In the area, you will also find residential neighborhoods, historic forts like San Felipe del Morro and Fuerte San Cristóbal, and inviting public plazas. Tours of the historic sites are available all day, every day, and offered in both Spanish and English.

Beyond the beaches and the history, Puerto Rico offers great exploration for the nature lover. Visit El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest Service. Marvel at the extremely diverse ecosystem found within El Yunque, host to hundreds unique plant and animal species, including Puerto Rico's coquí frog. Also be sure to visit Bioluminescent Bay in the evening for spectacular show put on by the ecosystems microscopic single celled organisms called dinoflagelletes which grow in quantities large enough to produce a "glow-in-the-dark" effect when stimulated by movement. Paddle through the water and witness the neon blue-green glow creating a starlight reflection on the water.

Visitors who don’t just come in search of history are often attracted by the bustling nightlife and shopping. It is said that the arrival of some of the world’s most fashionable designers – Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo –has transformed Ashford Avenue (in the Condado district) into a mini replica of Miami’s South Beach. And speaking of shopping, San Juan is also home to the Caribbean’s largest shopping center, Plaza Las Américas.

If you are looking for a Caribbean island experience without leaving the United States, where you can not only enjoy the beach, but also explore and take in the beauty of the geography, Puerto Rico is a perfect destination for you.

Contact me today to find out more about vacation options in Puerto Rico.

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