Thursday, May 9, 2024

Spending Two Days in San Juan


The New York Times runs a weekly column offering suggestions of things to do if you were to have on and a half days to spend in a particular place. In 2019, after Hurricane Maria and before Covid, the Gray Lady offered their suggestions of places to see and restaurants to visit in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On a recent trip, I decided to see how well those suggestions stand up after five years.

Coffee in Santurce

The Times had three suggestions for breakfast and or a coffee break in the Santurce neighborhood. The first is Hacienda San Pedro, on Avenida José de Diego, across from the Museo del Arte. The Hacienda is a coffee farm near the town of Jayuya, in the mountains of Puerto Rico, and this shop sells wonderful coffee made from their own beans. It a smooth coffee, like most native Puerto Rican roasts. The shop has comfortable indoor seating, along with a patio with more seats outside.


Museo del Arte

Another choice is Cafe con Cé, on Avenida Loiza. Cafe con Cé is one of several eateries that have transformed and empty lot into a foodie destination. Their storefront is small, but there is plenty of seating on the patio.

La Goyco Community Center

This book exchange has been on Calle Loize for over 30 years

Finally, and in my opinion the best choice, is Kasalta. This old style panadaría offers more than just a good cup of Joe. There are wonderful pastries, great sandwiches and even a full bar. Kasalta is a great place for breakfast, lunch or an evening snack.


Museums and Historic Sights


The Times suggested visiting El Morro and Castile San Cristóbal, an idea I totally agree with. The also recommend stopping in to see El Museo de las Americas, also high on my list. You can read my recent blogs here and here. I would add El Museo del Arte Contemporáneo, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC). Located in the former Rafael M. Labra High School, on Avenida Ponce de León, this often overlooked institution offer a glimpse into art being created today by Puerto Rican artists. The building was built in 1916 as part of a federal government program to build urban schools.

When I visited in March 2024, the entire museum was showing Puerto Rico Negrx (through Sept 1, 2024). This show highlights the work of Afro-descendant Puerto Rican artists, working on the island and in the diaspora. 

Rematername by Nitzayra Leonor

Transición Uno by Ramón Bulerín

Los Tres Amigos by Ramón Bulerín

Espíritu del Corte by Daniel Lind Ramos

An Evening Cruise


One thing that is obvious from trying to follow the suggestions of the NYT is that there is no way to try all of their ideas. They suggested a trip to Dorado for spa visit, something that in reality would take all day. But another of their choices really hit my heart - taking an sunset cruise on San Juan Bay. While the company they used no longer exists, the Viator web-site offered several choices. We went with one labeled “San Juan Sunset Harbor Boat Ride” which connected us with Rico Suntours. They offer pick-up and drop-off service at hotels around the San Juan/Isla Verde area. The tour travels the length of San Juan Bay from the San Juan Marina to the entrance of the bay, under El Morro. The tour offers a view of the city that I had never seen, and the chance to be on the water as the sun went down was wonderful.

The Ferry to The Dominican Republic

The Cruise Terminal

Banco Popular

Customs House

Bacardi Factory

The Gate of San Juan

El Moro


Like any tour guide, the Times column offers a group of suggestions that should looked on as a list of possibilities, but not as a complete itinerary. It offered me a framework to use, and one that I will explore in future posts in other cities.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely awesome! Thank you for sharing my island with the rest of the world.