Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Condado Plaza Hilton
If you’re considering a family getaway to Puerto Rico, the Condado Plaza is a Hilton hotel located only two miles from charming Old San Juan and just 15 minutes from the airport. Being the only hotel that overlooks both the Atlantic Ocean and the Condado Lagoon, it offers great snorkeling on the Atlantic side and kayaking and paddle boarding on the more serene lagoon side. If water sports aren't your thing, that's okay. Just walk out your door for plenty of shopping and restaurant options.
Puerto Rico is a Hassle-free Family Vacation
Traveling to Puerto Rico from the U.S. is easy. Though it feels exotic, you don't even need a passport. If you are coming from the Northeast, it's about a 3-hour direct flight from any major airport. Old San Juan is a vibrant city loaded with local color. We enjoyed seeing El Morro, a colonial fort and national landmark, the beautiful architecture, lush parks and the musicians playing along the sides of the street and wonderful authentic Puerto Rican meals.
Condado Plaza is a Hotel with Families in Mind
Condado Plaza provides a glam atmosphere that is kid friendly and convenient to the city action. The rooms are comfortable and well appointed. It has three freshwater pools and the only saltwater pool in Puerto Rico. There is a toddler/kid's area in the main pool that includes a water slide. Toys and games are available upon request. They have a small kid's club along with a ping pong table near the pool area. We went snorkeling on the beach, located just off the main pool. We saw loads of beautiful fish and sea urchins. It was definitely a highlight of our trip.
Condado Plaza has a "Scout About" program where the kids are encouraged to locate spots in the resort from a map. As they find each spot, they learn an interesting tidbit about Puerto Rico. They may return their completed form in exchange for a special Condado Plaza rubber bracelet. It's been two weeks and my son has yet to take his off. Another day we went paddle boarding and kayaking on the Condado Lagoon. In case you are trying it for the first time, the hotel staff gives great instructions.
There is a casino on the second floor, separated from where families will naturally be. There are 6 on-site restaurants including the renowned Pikayo run by Chef Wilo Benet. Cafe Caribe is a great breakfast spot with gorgeous views. You can rent bikes at the hotel and explore the area. An outdoor gym for public use provided loads of energy-burning fun for the kids. Note: Condado Plaza does not have a spa, but they have a lovely cabana along the ocean where you can get a private massage.
Explore Old San Juan
Old San Juan is a charming and romantic city with beautiful architecture everywhere you turn. El Morro is a definite must-see when exploring Old San Juan. Purchase a kite from one of the many vendors and let the kids join the crowd and fly it next to El Morro. This colonial fortress and national landmark is surrounded by what once was a golf course for the military but is now a beautiful green public space. Right next to it is San Juan Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the Americas. Gorgeous white marble statues and headstones buffer right up to the sea. It makes for a dramatic sight.
Lucky for us, we happened to be visiting Old San Juan during their SOFO Culinary Fest (Aug 14-17th). For over twenty years 40 restaurants offer a four day food jubilee which runs every night from 6pm to midnight. The streets were filled with people, outside dining was everywhere along with eight stages for live music. It was really festive and we loved getting a taste of the authentic Puerto Rican culture. We ended up eating in The Parrot Club which was a lively restaurant with their own small band playing in the corner. Our ceviche, plantains and rice and beans were amazing.
Once you get your history and culture in, you don't want to miss out on visiting the only tropical rainforest in the U.S., El Yunque. There are well marked hiking trails leading up to the top where the rainforest is. There are waterfalls along the way so wear bathing suits so you can jump in for a swim. It's about a 30 minute drive from the hotel.
If surfing is on your bucket list, you may want to head over to the West Coast of Puerto Rico where Rincon and other famous surf areas are. Just a 2-hour drive along the coast from San Juan, you can rent surfboards, get lessons and enjoy the waves. My son was really interested in doing this but we didn't have the time this trip. Puerto Rico has so much to offer, we can't wait to go back!
The Condado Plaza Hilton
999 Ashford Avenue
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907
Tel: 787-721-1000 or 888-722-1274