san francisco

A Quick Guide to San Juan, Puerto Rico

I'm just returning from San Juan, Puerto Rico & I put together a quick guide for you all. I had an absolute blast visiting with my best-friend! One of the things that stood out to me the most about visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico was how friendly and helpful the people were. Like I said in my Puerto Rico Photo Diary, the locals didn't hold back on showing love for their home. Upon our arrival, a man working at the car rental place sat us down and told us everything we needed to know within about 15 minutes. It got to the point where we had to stop him mid-conversation and say 'Um, so....where is our car?'. It wasn't just him though. For the remainder of our trip, locals would share with us the best places to go and various other tips without us even asking. Needless to say, I learned a lot about the best parts of San Juan. I'm sharing some of these tips with YOU because SJ is definitely a place you want to visit. It offers great beaches, historic sites, weather, nightlife, and people.


What to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico


What you should know: If you live in the US, you don't need a passport! 

This is common knowledge, but I think it makes PR a great destination for new and seasoned travelers alike. So if you've never been out of the country and don't know where to start, you should definitely look into PR. You get the out of country experience without all of the extra work. No passports, visas, or shots needed.


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Beaches

This is a given! Although all of the beaches are nice, Culebra and Vieques are known to be the best islands. You can catch a ferry to either by booking tickets online or fly from the mainlands. Top beaches in San Juan include Escambron, Isla Verde, Condado, Luquillo and Ocean Park. We went kayaking and jetskiing, but there are other water sports as well.

 

 

El Yunque National Rainforest

Cost?  Free

How to get there? You can either pay for a tour ($60-$70)  or drive if you've rented a car.

We rented a car because you don't need a tour guide to visit the rain-forest, it's free, and the cost of a tour was the same price we each paid for our rental car for the full 4 days.

Best part? La Mina Falls. Oh, and Did I mention that it's free?

LaMina Falls

LaMina Falls

Old San Juan

Old San Juan

History

Castillo San Felipe Del Morro - A fortress that protected San Juan for hundreds of year. You'll see people flying kites on the grounds and spending time with family/friends

Castillo de San Cristoba- Another fortress near Del Morro with great views.

Old San Juan - Roam the cobblestoned streets, stop in coffee shops, enjoy live music, and marvel at the beauty of this old town. We stayed 'in the heart of San Juan' and absolutely loved it! We never used it, but there is a free trolley that runs all day.

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

 

Nightlife

Old San Juan - Nuyorican Cafe(Salsa Dancing), La Factoria, and other small bars.

La Placita(Plaza del Mercado) - Several streets of markets & restaurants that turn into bars at night. SO much fun! We wanted to go back each night, *best nights are Thursday & Friday*

More things to do: 

Rio Camuy Cave Park

Bioluminescent Bay at Fajardo

The Bacardi Factory Tour


More than anything, just explore! Wander the streets and talk to as many locals as possible to really get a feel for the city. With everything that we did, we still didn't scratch the surface in San Juan. We did have such a great time though and I know that we'll make our way back soon. If I missed any gems, please leave a comment so others can check it out!

Have you been to San Juan? If so, what was your favorite thing about it? If not, what's something on this list that you'd like to do? 

If this was helpful, share it on your social media!

5 Reasons You Should Take A Solo Trip

I recently returned from a trip to San Francisco, CA(check out the blog post here) and I had a blast. The best part about my trip? I went alone. So, when I told my mom that I was flying out the night before leaving, her first question was ''Who are you going with?'' "Just me!", I excitedly replied. Since we were on the phone, I couldn't see but she probably rolled her eyes or just shook her head in worry like a caring mother would. She wasn't the only one though. Everyone I told had the same skeptical response. They'd say, "OMG! by yourself?" or "Wow, that's so brave!". I didn't see it that way though. I mean, I do live in a city by myself. I go to the store by myself. I go to restaurants by myself and with my roommate's work schedule, I basically live by myself. I'm alone a lot and I enjoy it, for a variety of reasons. Don't get me wrong...I love my friends and being surrounded by great people. In fact, I just returned from a reunion trip in New Orleans with some people from my Europe trip and I had way too much fun! I think that life is all about people and relationships we share,  but I love my own company just as much.

Traveling or doing anything alone can be seen as scary or just plain weird. That couldn't be further from the truth though! Traveling alone and spending time alone is so refreshing and beneficial to personal growth. It allows you to see places you've dreamed of without constraint, meet locals, step outside of your comfort zone, and truly reflect.

Here are 5 reasons you should take a solo trip...soon!

1. Do what you want when you want

It can be stressful  planning a trip, especially with someone who has different interests than you. It feels really nice to just go where you want to go when you want. You don't have to be accommodating or forgo certain activities because your friend doesn't feel like going.  See everything you want to see on your own time!

2.  Sometimes you just have to!

How many times have you planned a trip with friends only for it to be canceled at the last minute? How many times have you and your best friend talked about visiting somewhere but never actually get around to planning anything? Due to hectic schedules, family constraints, and finances, it can be really difficult to plan trips with friends. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't go though. You don't need to wait on anyone to travel or do anything else for that matter.

3. Meet New People

Going alone doesn't mean you'll be stuck in isolation. Personally, I'm more likely to speak to strangers(the good kind) when I'm alone. When I'm with friends, I don't even try to meet others because I'm focused on spending time with them. However, when I'm alone I'm more observant and therefore more likely to smile or speak to a random person. People talked to me every place I went in SF, without me ever initiating the conversation and that was extremely refreshing.  If you don't want to be alone the whole time you can stay at a Hostel, join a tour group, or simply speak to the person sitting next to you in a local restaurant. You'll be able to meet locals and possibly other like-minded travelers. This gives you the freedom to spend time with others when you want and then retreat to yourself when you want alone time.

4. Step outside of your comfort zone

Visiting a new place is always exciting. A lot of people fear traveling alone, so you'll be proud of yourself once you actually challenge yourself to do it. It definitely helps establish a sense of independence. Not missing your flight or actually finding your way around a city without getting lost feels like a really big deal when you did it by yourself. It builds confidence to realize that you're doing things you once feared or thought you'd somehow screw up. And if you do screw up, you keep going just as you would with a group of friends. Its certainly not the end of the world.

5. Know Yourself

I'm a firm believer that spending time alone is the only way you can really know who you are without the words, thoughts, and actions of others constantly influencing you. Your forced to be more observant and take more in. Traveling alone allows you to really spend time with yourself and get to know yourself. Stop in a coffeeshop and read the book you've been wanting to finish. Visit places you've always wanted to go. Strike up a conversation with a rando and then be proud of yourself for doing so. Walk silently along the beach at sunset with the only sounds being the waves as you reflect on where you've been, appreciate where you're at and envision where you want to go next.


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Like I said, traveling alone and with friends are both equally amazing. In fact, taking a trip with the right people/person is an absolute blast and that experience can be extremely meaningful in building certain bonds/relationships. Just know that you don't have to wait for someone to journey along with you. You can do it alone and thats a journey within itself. This was my first solo trip, but I know it definetely won't be my last.

48 Hours in San Francisco

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One of my major goals for 2016 was to take a trip alone somewhere. My parents would always rave about San Francisco but I'd never been. For some reason, I thought it'd be the perfect place to take a solo trip and I must say that it didn't disappoint. I only spent an 48 hours in San Francisco, yet I felt like I did so much and got a really good feel of the city. I encountered the nicest people, ate way too much good food, finished a book(#GIRLBOSS), started a new book(Between The World and Me), walked up way too many hills, and so much more. It was such a nice weekend to explore a new city and it felt even better to do something like this by myself for the first time.

Things to Do

Alcatraz Island

It was so cool to learn about the history of such a notorious prison with famous criminals like Al Capone. Tickets can sell out up to a month ahead of time, so book early.

Muir Woods 

A breathtaking national park filled with California Redwoods and Greenery. So lush and beautiful! There are several 1-3 hour hikes that can be taken with different scenic routes. Since it is outside of SF, you can either visit with a local tour company or rent a car to drive, which may be a bit more difficult.   However you choose to get there, its definitely worth the visit.

Golden Gate Bridge

This one's a no - brainer, but it had to be mentioned. I thought I'd be underwhelmed, but the golden gate bridge really is a sight to see in real life. You can pay to walk/bike it or simply view it from a nearby park or beach. The view from Fort Point at sunset was nice and calming.

Dolores Park

A lively park with interesting people and a killer view of SF.

I also visited Lombard Street, Sausalito, and Fisherman's Wharf but those weren't nearly as exciting as the places listed above.


Eat

I ate way too much food while in SF. There's a diverse range of authentic and local restaurants. Check out Yelp! Don't miss out on...

Brunch at Brenda's Soul Food Kitchen

Believe the hype and Be Prepared for a line. So good!

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

 The Ube Puff was so so good. I arrived at 8am to a line formed down the street, so get there early!

La TAQUERIA in the Mission District

For authentic tacos in one of the city's most culturally rich areas. 

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Neighborhood to Visit

The Mission District

Street art, trendy restaurants, beautiful homes, quaint shops, interesting people.

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Favorite Moment(s)

Sunset at the Golden Gate Bridge

Every Lyft Ride 

All of my lyft drivers were so friendly and informative. They gave me their perspective of the city and it was also nice to see them light up when they explained why they loved SF so much.

Getting Lost in the Mission District

After leaving Dolores park, I simply started wandering around just to see what was in the area and get a feel for the neighborhood. I ended up in the Mission District, known for latin culture and street art. I walked from book stores to quaint shops, stopping to take photos along the way. At one point my phone was about to die and I stumbled into the coolest coffeeshop on earth. This ended up being the best decision because I was able to charge my phone and read Between You & The World as 2pac and Biggie tunes played aloud. All was good in the world. Afterwards, I noticed a Thai Massage place across the street and I though, "Why Not?". So I paid $50 for an hour and ended up getting the BEST massage from such a sweet Thai lady who hardly spoke English, but was able to insist that I relocate to SF at least 5 times.

I'm not quite sure if I'll ever get the chance to do that, but I can say that I know I'll be back as there is so much more to explore. Till' Next time, San Francisco!