5 Fun Day Trips From San Juan, Puerto Rico

Culebra-Puerto Rico


By Cynthia De Saint

February 16, 2023

They’re only a hop, skip or jump from the capital city, but each offers something unique to visitors, from gorgeous views to street art and delicious gastronomy!

Visitors to Puerto Rico flock to beautiful San Juan, and who can blame them? The island’s capital city is full of charms, from its colorful Spanish colonial buildings, to 16th-century landmarks like El Morro and La Fortaleza, impressive fortresses with stunning ocean views.

But did you know that there are day trips that you can take from San Juan to enjoy some of Borinquen’s most fabulous places? Here are five that will make your Puerto Rican adventure unforgettable!

El Yunque National Rainforest

5 Fun Day Trips From San Juan, Puerto Rico
Shutterstock/Vilinta Griciute

Río Grande, in the north of Puerto Rico, is the site of the only rainforest in the United States, El Yunque National Rainforest. How fabulous is it? From El Portal Visitor Center, a walkway winds through the surrounding treetops, and in the south are ancient petroglyphs made by the area’s indigenous Taíno people. But the main attractions are the cascading waterfalls. Besides enjoying the park’s pure air, one of the most popular things to do in El Yunque is heading to La Coca trail and hiking down to one of several ponds along the route for the perfect way to cool off.

A heads up: Bring water and a good pair of sneakers. Don’t go on the trails alone. The terrain can be rough and slippery and accidents can happen.

To come to El Yunque’ s main recreation area you need to get a reservation in advance. You can visit other parts of El Yunque without a reservation. A good option is to book a tour.

Learn more HERE.

Ponce and its Historical Street Art

5 Fun Day Trips From San Juan, Puerto Rico
Shutterstock/Alberto Loyo

Are you an art lover? Known as la Perla del Sur, or the Pearl of the South, you’ll discover new forms of art in the midst of the old-world charm of this city’s beautiful neighborhoods. Colorful, eye-catching, thought-provoking murals are scattered across the city’s walls, crosswalks, parking spaces, and hotels. And as Ponce reinvents how history and culture are put on display, the themes cover from social movements and political crises, to notable small-town figures. It’s enlightening, instructive and a lot of fun! So, don’t forget to bring your camera for selfie ops galore! Of course, the city has many other attractions, such as the Ponce Museum of Art and the Serralles Castle Museum with its Japanese garden and Butterfly nursery.

One great option for visitors is to book a Ponce Historical City Tour. As with most major urban areas, avoid dark, narrow and isolated places when you explore this beautiful city.

Learn more HERE.

Culebra, a Taste of Paradise

5 Fun Day Trips From San Juan, Puerto Rico
Shutterstock/Lauren Orr

Located on the east side of Puerto Rico, Culebra is surrounded by more than 20 cays bustling with marine life, and can be reached by a small plane or boat.

Underwater adventurers and casual beachgoers alike fall in love with its beauty and tranquility. In fact, some call it paradise on Earth, a place where you can snorkel with turtles or visit Flamenco Beach’s white sands and turquoise waters. No wonder it has been repeatedly recognized as one of the top beaches in the entire world!

Another great attraction for nature lovers is the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge. Designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, it’s a place to explore diverse ecosystems ranging from beaches and dry forests to mangroves and seagrass beds. It is also one of the largest seabird nesting grounds in the Caribbean, with more than 13 species and 50,000 birds that spend at least part of the year here. Culebra National Wildlife Refuge offers hiking, wildlife observation and nature photography opportunities. US Fish & Wildlife Service has more information.

Learn more HERE.

Dorado, Enjoy the Good Life!

5 Fun Day Trips From San Juan, Puerto Rico
Shutterstock/Javier Cruz Acosta

If roughing it is not your style, then Dorado is the place for you. From beachfront resorts and golf courses to upscale neighborhoods and lavish accommodations, the city has earned the reputation of “the cleanest city” on the Island.

If you love culture, the Museo y Centro Cultural Casa del Rey is an old Spanish garrison from the 1800s where you can view antique furniture of the king and queen of Spain, while a visit to the Museo de Arte e Historia de Dorado will provide a fascinating look into local art. Dorado is also one of the few towns in Puerto Rico that still has a traditional Catholic church in the main square with a typical Spanish layout.

Of course, there’s also the food! The mesones gastronómicos, or iconic restaurants, include El Ladrillo, a culinary landmark known for its old world charm, while COA at the Ritz Carlton features one of the largest wine lists in the Caribbean.

And did we mention that Dorado, or “golden,” is only 35 minutes from San Juan?

Learn more HERE.

Río Grande, More Than a Rainforest

5 Fun Day Trips From San Juan, Puerto Rico

It is famous for being the site of the El Yunque rainforest. But the town whose name translates to “big river” is so much more than that!

Besides its breathtaking scenic views, Río Grande is also well-known for its lavish hotels, championship-worthy golf courses, and iconic restaurants that elevate Puerto Rican gastronomy with a dish for every taste and price point. Here you can enjoy all kinds of delicias, from high-end dining to roadside dives like El Verde BBQ, an iconic roadside dive that serves staple Puerto Rican dishes like arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), yuca al mojo (cassava in a garlic sauce) and other comfort foods.
Learn more HERE.


READ MORE: 20 Fun, Quirky, and Fascinating Facts About Puerto Rico


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