Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico is a great family destination, in part because islanders are very family oriented. Most restaurants have high-chairs and grocery stores stock disposable diapers. Major hotels like El San Juan and Courtyard Marriott Isla Verde have kids' programs that allow parents to sneak out for a round of golf or romantic dinner; guests of El Conquistador can enjoy the resort’s water park.

Puerto Rico Family Activities

Bioluminescent Bays

When it’s pitch dark, paddle out to one of these bioluminescent inlets (in Fajardo, La Parguera, and Vieques) and jump into the water. Your entire body will glow, caused by the defense mechanism of the dinoflagellates that swim in the water. Vieques is said to have the best “bio-bay” in the world; note that visits during the full moon aren't ideal, as the light interferes with the visibility of the luminescence.

Fajardo, La Parguera, and Vieques, www.biobay.com
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | outdoors | adventure

El Yunque

The 28,000-acre preserve is almost as much mountain as it is rain forest, so get ready for some serious hiking, where you’ll see wildlife against a natural backdrop of waterfalls, ponds, and 240-plus species of tropical trees. You’ll also hear the coqui (pronounced co-KEE), a tree frog named after its squeaking mating call.

, 787-888-1880, www.fs.fed.us/r8/caribbean
Tags: family | hiking | editor pick | things to do | outdoors | wildlife | adventure

Luis Muñoz Marín Park

This popular park three miles south of Condado has a nice children’s playground within its lush, lake-dotted grounds. Take to a paddleboat at the Marina Pedaeróbicos or go on a funicular ride ($2). The park is equally popular among locals and visitors and is best reached by car.

Piñero Ave. at Hato Rey, 787-751-3353
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | park

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico

The permanent collection of this elegant, comprehensive museum, opened in 2000; not surprisingly, the collection's strength is Puerto Rican artists, and works range from the 18th century to the present. You'll also find a five-acre sculpture garden, children's interactive gallery, and smart gift shop here. Also nearby is the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, a collection showcasing modern works from Latin artists throughout the Americas. 

Ave. de Diego 299, 787-977-6277, www.mapr.org (Spanish only)
Tags: family | editor pick | art | things to do | culture

Ocean Park

Located between Old San Juan and the airport, this two-mile-long neighborhood beach is less noteworthy for its swimming conditions than its refreshingly local bent. On weekends watch for Leo, a beach vendor, to show up with a box full of hot crab and chicken empanadas. Or pull up a chair at Pamela’s for tasty sandwiches and salads served at tables in the sand (787-726-5010; 1 Santa Ana St.). At the far eastern side of the beach, you can find outfitters renting all manner of water sport craft, including kiteboards.

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Tags: beach | family | water sports | things to do | swimming | best beach

Parque de Bombas

This eccentric red-and-black striped structure is one of Puerto Rico’s most idiosyncratic buildings. Originally built to house an agricultural fair in 1882 and converted into a firehouse a year later, Parque de Bombas today holds a museum devoted to Ponce’s fascinating fire-fighting history (ask about the street lined with red and black houses), with a collection of antique fire trucks and free tours (conducted in English and Spanish).

Plaza de las Delicias, 787-284-3338
Tags: family | historic | things to do | architecture | museum

Piñones

You don't have to drive far from San Juan to experience quality shoreline seclusion. Follow highway 187 along the coast past the airport and you'll come to Piñones, six miles long, beautiful, and blessedly devoid of facilities. A parking area near the west end is where most visitors unpack their kids and picnic coolers. Rent a bike and follow the six-mile path east to your own personal palm tree.

Piñones,
Tags: beach | family | best beach

San Juan National Historic Site

Explore the vestiges of iconic El Morro and, a half-mile east, San Cristóbal, two massive forts dating from 1539 – and used by the U.S. army until 1951 – at this protected Old San Juan site. Hiding behind the battlements is a maze of tunnels, barracks, and spiral staircases, while a blanket of green grass dotted with kite flyers extends toward the city. Both sites host guided tours and special events, such as dance and music performances; check the website for the current schedule.

Old San Juan, PR, 787-729-6960, www.nps.gov/saju
Tags: family | editor pick | landmark | things to do | culture | architecture | history | world heritage site

The Condado Plaza Hilton

For travelers seeking the best of both worlds in San Juan – its sprawling beaches and its tangling, pastel-colored old city – the Condado Plaza Hilton hits the spot. Located smack dab between both, guests can easily laze on the sand at skyscraper-fringed Ocean Park – or the property’s own patch of sand – by day, and hit the cobblestone streets by night. Each is just a 10-minute drive away.

Plus, as one of the only properties in town with both ocean and lagoon views, guests have a choice of either blazing sunsets or crashing waves just outside their balconies. The lagoon side affords some unique perks, too – paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkeling are included in the hotel’s resort fee.

Families and younger singles intermingle on the property’s lively pool deck, where food and salsa music is served all day long. Kids – and a few intrepid adults – hit the water slide while the grownups order pina coladas and daiquiris at the swim-up bar. Rooms are sleekly modern – think platform beds, crisp white sheets, and splashy black-and-white photos on the walls – without the intimidation factor.  

999 Ashford Avenue, Puerto Rico, 787-721-1000, http://www.condadoplaza.com/default-en.html
Tags: family | moderate | swimming pool | views | pool bar

Toro Verde Nature Park

This ecotourism park, opened in 2010, is – perhaps surprisingly – one of the few places on the island where extreme adventure sports are offered. Ziplining, rock rapelling, and mountain biking are three of the sports permitted here; individuals of all ages (as long as they meet the height and weight requirements) and families are welcome.

Rte. 155, Km. 32.9, 787-867-7020, www.toroverdepr.com (Spanish only)
Tags: family | off the path | things to do | adventure

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