San Juan - We Experience Vibrant Colors and a Beautiful Beach in Puerto Rico.
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
This February, we had the opportunity to spend an entire day in San Juan. We we arrived at the sea port with a loose plan in mind. We wanted to experience street life, visit some historic sites, enjoy authentic food, and spend a decent amount of relaxing time on the beach. With a toddler in tow, this seemed like a decent and achievable plan.
The Streets of Old San Juan
If you’ve seen my Instagram, you know that I love bright and colorful, so Old San Juan was like heaven. All the bright colors were a delight to my senses. We walked the streets, taking in the scenery. We took multiple pictures of the colorful buildings. Wait, have I mentioned how beautiful the colorful buildings were? Lol.
Cathedral de San Juan Bautista
While in old San Juan, I highly recommend this stop. It is located in Calle del Cristo. There is no admission fee but donations are welcomed. Lots of interesting artifacts, religious relics and beautiful religious statues. Some highlights are the tomb Ponce de Leon, the mummy of St. Pio. Being catholic, I especially enjoyed this stop. I imagine it would be interesting to anyone because it seemed like a popular spot with lots of tourists.
Paseo del Morro and Paseo de la Princesa
It was quiet here and there was great view of the ocean. This is a charming spot for a leisurely stroll on old San Juan. Paseo del Morro is a San Juan National Historic Site. The trail here follows masonry walls that surround the city of old San Juan and date back to the 1630s. It was a break for us to re-hydrate and feed the kiddo a snack. The fort wall provided some shade and the cool breeze from the ocean was a plus. After enjoying the sights here, we continued our walk to the market square where we set out to look for lunch.
Local Food & Kind Locals
Our lunch stop was at Grandma's Kitchen at the Cafeteria San Juan in Plaza Colon. It was recommended by a nice man, the host at a restaurant where we stopped to look at the menu. Somehow, he could tell we were on the hunt for something more authentic. I was surprised that he was gracious enough to refer us to an outside establishment, instead of trying to keep the business for himself. I think this shows how nice the local people in Puerto Rico are. It was a different experience from some of our other holiday destinations where as tourist, you sometimes feel like a target for exploitation. We loved the food. It was similar to food I had growing up. We had some rice, plantains and beef stew. After filling our bellies and a bathroom break, we called an Uber and headed for the beach.
I love beaches and this one did not fail me. We had a great time. With a 2 year old, it can be difficult to completely relax but we had fun playing in the sand. Unlike many of the beaches I have visited, this one has numerous palm trees right on the beach to provide shade. No need for beach umbrellas! Just find a spot and spread a towel. Tobe spotted some big iguanas. He loved it. The beach was our last stop of the day.
Transportation in San Juan
Not much to say here. There are lots of Ubers and they were cheap. Our ride from old San Juan to Escambron beach was like $3.
We spent about 7 hours in San Juan and we made the most of it. It was stress free and enjoyable. I highly recommend this vacation spot. I imagine it would be even more fun to stay a few days, but even if you only have one day to spend, it is a lot of fun. We even got local ice-cream on the beach!
Toddler Traveling Tip of the Week
Traveling with a kiddo has its special set of challenges, mobility being a big one. This is where our umbrella stroller came in handy. It has many features I love. It has a lot of storage space for a compact stroller. It is easy to drive. It was easy to maneuver it through the narrow cobble stone streets of Old San Juan. Quite often, there were steps leading into buildings without any other obvious accessible option. Having a light umbrella stroller was a huge plus for these situations. We were able to store snacks, sunscreen, beach towels and extra clothes in my huge beach bag (which we hung on the stroller handle) and in the storage compartment of the stroller. And while we were at the beach, the stroller served to keep our items away from the sand. Feeling stroller envy? You can pick up this one that's like mine on amazon. I highly recommend this stroller or something similar for a day-trip like ours.