Roaming and eating our way through Columbus and beyond.

Vacationing in San Juan, Puerto Rico

{by alexis} Last week, Joe and I returned from a handful of sunny days in Puerto Rico. Some very close friends of ours were married in their hometown of Humacao, and so we extended the trip to enjoy some time off, away, in the sun and by the ocean. In this post, I’ll talk a bit about some of our favorite sights, and our hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’ll follow up with the AMAZING food we ate in a later post.

Thanks to the 6:30 am flight out of CMH (props to Southwest for early arrivals in both directions), we arrived in San Juan at 12:30. We checked in at our first hotel (there were THREE because we are excessive), and, after a brief wait, were shown to our room. The vista from the ocean view rooms at the La Concha is no joke.

la concha hotel, san juan | wander & whine

Go on, just leave me here. The back wall was all windows, and from the door, all you can see is blue from top to bottom. I about keeled over with joy.

The room was not cheap (AAA discount for the win!), and frankly, it was nothing special. Clean, bright, but not fancy. The real gem was the beach. We hurried down to meet some friends and start with the frozen drinks. (Also: I wore that crepe maxi from my packing post THE WHOLE TIME: it was a perfect coverup!)

la concha, san juan | wander & whine

The beach was windy, which made sunbathing a breeze (ha!). In fact, it was too easy: I walked away from our first full day with a sunburn I’m still exfoliating away. We left the next morning for the wedding, and I was quite a sight at the reception with burnt feet, knees, and shoulders, but the local guests politely ignored my mismatched skin and we had a great time on Saturday night salsa dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

We drove back to the Condado neighborhood in San Juan on Sunday afternoon, after a beautiful lunch with friends on the beach. And we walked back into one of the schmanciest hotels I’ve ever had the luxury to stay in. Though it’s not quite the Langham in Chicago, the Condado Vanderbilt was beautiful from one end to the next. Every finish, every floor, every beach chair was chic and glamorous. The service was probably the best I’ve ever had, and the room was gorgeous.

the condado vanderbilt, san juan | wander & whine the condado vanderbilt, san juan | wander & whine the condado vanderbilt, san juan | wander & whine

We had a partial ocean view; it wasn’t quite the view from the La Concha, but the room was so delightfully fancy, and the bed was up there with the Mirage in its outrageous comfort.

Once we checked in, we hopped into a cab to check out Old San Juan. My parents swear I’ve been there before (possible lies), but I swear I would have remembered this!

old san juan | wander & whine old san juan | wander & whine

We started with that big castle looking thing, which turned out to be Castillo de San Cristobal. The price of admission was only $5 per person, and offered entry to a handful of other sites in the area. The history of the place was fascinating — it was built by the Spanish and completed in 1793, and used as a military post all the way through WWII. And the views, from this place…let me tell you.

castillo de san cristobal | wander & whine

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Can we discuss the color of this water? And the green of that grass? We go all winter with shades of grey and brown, and meanwhile — color like this! It felt amazing.

We walked down to the other end of the neighborhood to see the other big ticket item: Castillo San Felipe del Morro. It was a long walk, but true story, we moved faster than the traffic. And once we turned the corner this was waiting for us.

castillo san felipe del morro | wander & whine

The pictures are so underwhelming, and the site was quite the opposite. This giant, neon green field of grass was dotted everywhere with families, couples and friends, all flying kites! I’ve never seen anything like it! And that big long walkway? Yeah, we had to walk that to get into the Castillo.

castillo san felipe del morro | wander & whine

We walked back through the field, chased after someone’s hat, and made our way into the winding streets of Old San Juan, but not before seeing the cutest, scrappiest pack of stray pups tearing through the streets having the time of their lives. I swear, these dogs were cast by Disney.

The city was so bright. Around every corner was something new, an artist painting, or a musician playing. I am in love.

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Eventually, our feet were beat and we had to head back to the hotel. We slept a little late the next morning, but headed down to the pool to enjoy the sun and the view.

condado vanderbilt | wander & whine condado vanderbilt | wander & whine

The hotel was pretty quiet for the few days we were there. The pool area is VERY windy, so some sections aren’t really enjoyable. I had to keep a firm hold on my book and my drink while I passed the time. There is only a small beach on the property, but it is out of the wind, and very private.

condado vanderbilt | wander & whine

Again, the service was fantastic. We picked out our beach chairs, and they tucked in the towels for us. They kept my water glass filled, and checked on us often. It was a joy.

I would HIGHLY suggest a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The flights were easy and quick, the scenery was unbelievable and — look ma! No customs! The food was the BOMB, but that, friends, is for another post!

Have you been? Where did you stay? What was your favorite sight?

san juan | wander & whine



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1 comment
  • Renee

    April 21st, 2015 14:58

    I agree with everything you have written, I love PR , I'm booked to return in November it will be my 4th visit ,

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