MF City: San Juan
Take in the beauty of Puerto Rico's capital
Outdoors Parque Central www.sanjuanpr.com The mangrove-bordered Parque Central, inaugurated in 1979 for the Pan-American Games, covers 35 acres of green. Recently renovated, you can hone your serve on the twenty tennis courts and four racquetball courts, or sprint your way around the track. A golf course is currently in the works for the adjacent former landfill and an Olympic diving and swimming arena lures those who prefer their water off the beach. Hacienda del Campo 787- 523-2001. www.haciendacamporico.com Right near beautiful Carolina Beach, where locals (and visitors) get their fix of sand and surf, a different kind of outdoors adventure can be found. A one-stop kayaking-hiking-zipline destination covering 2,300 acres of unadulterated land, Hacienda del Campo offers a way to physically engage your body that stimulates not only your muscles but also your senses. Indoors Gym
Zonactiva 1445 Roosevelt Avenue, Doral Bank Plaza. 787-781-6993 www.zonactivapr.com Boasting the latest TGS Wellness Systems, Kinesis machines, LCD screens on all cardio equipment, assortment of scheduled classes, and steam/sauna rooms, Zonactiva is one of San Juan's premier fitness destinations. A one-day pass is free, while 1-week passes can be purchased for $25. Hotel Gym Las Olas at the Caribe Hilton 1 San Geronimo Street. 787-721-0303. www.caribehilton.com/spa-health-club/ Set in a separate facility that overlooks the sea, the Olas Spa and Health Club at the Caribe Hilton includes a 12,000 square foot spa and state-of-the-art Health Club outfitted by Precor. With daily fitness programs, including water aerobics, yoga, circuit training, Pilates, as well as personal training sessions, this is the health club to hit.
Photo Courtesy of Varita
Varita Condado Plaza Hotel. 999 Ashford Avenue. 787-919-7818. www.wilobenet.com Though Wilo Benet's Pikayo delivers the ultimate culinary experience his latest, Varita, also located in the Condado Plaza Hotel, is making an equal amount of waves. Set in a colorful space with artwork by the chef, Varita's lettuce wraps (tuna, crispy rice, wasabi, peanut sauce), house made sausages (chicken and cranberry), pulled pork sliders, and mofungos offer a more casual way to sample Benet's food. Budatai 1056 Ashford Avenue. 787-725-6919. www.budatai.com If you're looking for sexy, you'll find it here. Budatai's sleek, Asian-inspired rooms and Latin-fusion menu court the hungry, beautiful crowd. Chef Roberto Treviño oversees a kitchen that excels in playful dishes like pork belly profiteroles with a to-die-for salted caramel sauce, spicy tuna poppers, and killer Budatai noodles with scallops. If it's a nice night, be sure to head up to the restaurant's terrace for an after dinner cocktail. Laurel Kitchen | Art Bar Puerto Rico Museum of Art. 299 De Diego Avenue. 787-522-6444. laurelkitchenartbar.com For an elegant date, set against the backdrop of an eerily quiet museum, Next Iron Chef contestant Mario Pagan's Laurel is the place. The drinks are strong, the food is sublime and the ambiance can't be topped. Start with lamb meatballs or the light scallop tiradito, and then finish strong with the outrageous port wine and foie gras laced Chilean sea bass, or the filet with yam gnocchi. Nightlife Casinos
Photo Courtesy of La Concha
El San Juan Hotel. 6063 Isla Verde Avenue. 888-579-2632. www.elsanjuanhotel.com La Concha. 1077 Ashford Avenue. 787-721-7500. www.laconcharesort.com If you're a gambling man, there are plenty of spots to try your luck, but the casinos with the best scenes (and great rooms for overnights) are at the El San Juan and La Concha Hotels. If the magic number 21 eludes you, the smaller La Concha offers a good break from the table action with a jam-packed poolside lounge and spinning DJs, while the El San Juan's majestic lobby transforms into a hot, tropical hangout that goes until the wee hours Bars El Barril 1302 Ashford Avenue. 787-294-9691 Sharing an address with popular Basque tapas lounge Bar Gitano, El Barril takes off around midnight, just as Bar Gitano finishes its service. A more laid-back, lounge atmosphere, El Barril is a cozy space inflected with wood accents and low lighting, and always draws a good crowd. Open until 3 AM, it's a guaranteed late-night bet in trendy Condado. Nuyorican Café 312 San Francisco Street. 787-977-1276. www.nuyoricancafepr.com Craving the local scene? Head to Nuyorican Café, the city's ultimate live music venue. Here, all walks of all ages gather to dance the night away to pure salsa, cool jazz, and rock depending on the night of the week. It's an affordable, authentic joint that goes off nightly, infusing the crowd with a Latin passion for music.
Photo Courtesy of El Convento Hotel
El Convento Hotel 100 Cristo Street. 787-723-9020 www.elconvento.com The only luxury boutique hotel in Puerto Rico, this 350-year old converted Carmelite convent in the center of Old San Juan is dripping with old world Spanish charm. Grab drinks in the breezy courtyard, hang on the rooftop, or settle into some of the most gorgeous rooms on the island. The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan 6961 Avenue of the Governors. 787-253-1700. www.ritzcarlton.com With a gorgeous beach, lion fountains guarding the massive pool, and high-end restaurants like BLT Steak and Il Mulino on-site, The Ritz-Carlton is the premier property in San Juan. A lush spa, quiet casino, free valet parking, and busy sushi-serving lobby round out the hotel's amenities. San Juan Water and Beach Club 2 Tartak Street. 787-728-3666. www.waterbeachclubhotel.com A modern alternative on gorgeous Isla Verde beach, the Water and Beach Club evokes Miami's breezy South Beach hotel scene. With a daily complimentary cocktail hour on the roof, the sexy, modern Tangerine restaurant serving throughout the day, and just 78 rooms with the breathtaking views of the Atlantic, this hotel is the perfect choice for a romantic getaway.