San Juan Puerto Rico

While the highlight of any trip to San Juan Puerto Rico is the Old Town, along with the magnificent beaches full of snorkelers and fishing enthusiasts, there are a number of other things to see on your San Juan tour that do not involve beaches or colonial architecture.

While Old San Juan is dedicated to the past, the greater San Juan area is clearly dedicated to the present. Looking every bit like a shiny urban metropolis, but still moving at a slower pace that the Caribbean is known for, San Juan is one of the most popular tourist spots in the entire sea. And why not? San Juan travel includes access to many sites of great cultural importance, not to mention a bustling night life that will wear out even the hardest partier.

San Juan Puerto Rico also proves that not all the wonderfully restored old buildings are confined to Old San Juan. All done up in marble, the capitol was built in the early twentieth century, and provides some of the best views of the Caribbean Sea that you'll find on the island. The neoclassical Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is a vast art collection spread out over a converted hospital, featuring a nice overview of Puerto Rican art dating back to the seventeenth century. There is also a sculpture-laden garden full of blooming tropical flowers and singing birds along with a pond full of shy but colorful fish.

You wouldn't think that a trip to school would be a necessary part of your San Juan travel plans, but the Universidad de Puerto Rico is home to a 75-acre botanical garden that is one of the city's best tourist attractions. This immense forest is home to over 200 species of both tropical and subtropical vegetation, including a bamboo promenade, an orchid garden full of 30,000 plants and an exquisite lotus lagoon.

No San Juan tour is complete with checking out the Caparra ruins—they are all that remain of the original settlement founded by Ponce De Leon in 1508. Mostly lost to the ravages of time, the fort is now just a few crumbling walls, but you'll also find the verbosely named Museum of the Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico, home to some of the island's oldest artifacts and historical documents.

The heart of Puerto Rico's nightlife is spread evenly throughout the old and new parts of the city. Expert drinkers take their San Juan vacations to Calle San Sebastian in the Old Town, home to a wide array of salsa clubs and busy, colorful bars still jampacked during the wee hours. Head to the area surrounding La Fortenza to find another pocket of bustling bars and dance clubs, a little more upscale that those on Calle San Sebastian. Only found in hotels due to city ordinances, a handful of casinos make up a large portion of the nightlife around town. If you enjoy tossing the dice or betting the wheel, center your San Juan travel plans around the Condado Plaza Hotel Casino. And, of course, every casino offers the standard card game in these parts, Caribbean Stud Poker. Not the best odds, but small fortunes can be made if you play the game carefully. You could even win enough to afford the clothing necessary to be allowed into San Juan Puerto Rico's fussiest nightclubs, notorious for the strict enforcement of dress codes.

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