Looking for sparkling high-rises and glitzy casinos? They’re here. How about stunning nature reserves and charming seaside villages? You’ll find those, too. History? No problema. Best of all: This commonwealth territory of the United States is located close to home (between the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic), offers great airfare and hotel deals (due to its high tourist volume), and is a cinch to navigate: English is widely spoken, the U.S. dollar is the national currency, and no passports are required!
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
- Language: Spanish, English
- Flight time: 3.5 hours from NYC, 7.5 hours from LA, 4.5 hours from Chicago, 6 hours from Dallas
- Getting around: Rental car, taxi, bus, ferry, “publicos” (public cars that operate between towns, stopping in each town’s main plaza)
When To Go: Puerto Rico at its best
- Best weather: January to April (January has the lowest during this period). The average temperature is 83 degrees in winter and 85 degrees in summer.
- Best prices: Mid-April to mid-December.
Why To Go
- Mother Nature: Puerto Rico has 20 forest reserves, including the 28,000-acre El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System (bring a slicker!); Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve (which includes seven unique ecological systems and an “El Faro,” a 19th-century lighthouse with great views); and the Guajataca Forest Reserve, with 25 miles of trails.
- Piña Coladas and Secret Tunnels: Go on a stroll through the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan. This romantic walled city is one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial cities in the world and is full of candy-colored 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-century buildings in which people go about their 20th-century life. Window shop the boutiques of Fortaleza Street (Puerto Rico has no sales tax on most items); grab a piña colada at Barrachina Restaurant (where they were invented!); and be sure to wander the maze of secret access tunnels at t
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