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Trip Report Long Weekend in San Juan/Isla Verde

We recently spent a long weekend in Puerto Rico, which was a great respite from the cold and snow of New York. We were looking for some warmth, good restaurants and fun evening activities, which is exactly what San Juan offers in abundance. I love how we can be on the beach in Isla Verde within 30 minutes of touch down on the runway (we only take carry on and there is no customs to deal with when visiting PR).

We stayed at El San Juan hotel which is on a nice stretch of beach, has beautiful grounds and is well located for easy access to Old San Juan and in walking distance to some local restaurants. Isla Verde has some good spots for affordable lunch and drinks right off the beach at Calle Tartak. We liked El Alambique and the little place next to it had great empanadas (can't remember the name of the place). Of course there are plenty of vendors selling empanadas and other snacks along the beach. On Saturday and Sunday it was fun walking the beach and taking in the local atmosphere. This is not a beach to feel like you are on your private island as this is a very lively beach with lots of tourists and locals. We also walked to the eastern part of Isla Verde, by the Ritz Carlton, which is much quieter.

The lobby of El San Juan has all the action one needs for a fun filled evening. The musical entertainment was great and we enjoyed the casino as well. I was initially surprised how many locals we met at the El San Juan lobby but it seems that this hotel is a nightlife hot spot in the area. The younger crowd went to the the club and the 40+ crowd enjoyed the bands in the lobby. I like how nightlife in San Juan includes all ages. There were plenty of people well over 60 who were dancing the night away. We also spent one evening in Old San Juan and another evening at La Placita (Plaza del Mercado) where we ate dinner and then enjoyed the music and festivities of the surrounding bars. The entire outdoor plaza is filled with people, enjoying music, drinks and food. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking an experience that is more local and less touristy. It is also very affordable. I was told it's best on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and quiet the other nights.

We did plan on going to either El Yunque, Pinones or Guavate but we never made it. Perhaps if we had one more day but we all just enjoyed relaxing on the beach too much. There is always next trip!

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