Puerto Rico With Kids – Part 1 (Where To Stay, Eat)

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About this time last year, with Spring Break looming on the horizon and wanderlust creeping into my veins, I sat Mike down in the kitchen.  The kids were in bed, the Scotch was poured and it was time to talk Plans (Mike’s least favorite topic).  “Babe,” I said.  “I really want to go somewhere different for Spring Break.  We spend most of our vacation days visiting family…wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip, just the four of us?”

He was in!  Sorta.  Mike started droning on about “taking a friday off work” and “road trip weekend” and “driving somewhere in the three hour range” and after much smiling and nodding on my part I interjected with, “I WANT A WARM BEACH.”   Confused, Mike started looking up the average daily temp of the Outer Banks in March.

Silly, silly Mike.

Anyway, we settled on Puerto Rico by default.  It turns out our passports were expired, and Puerto Rico was simply a more affordable vacation than the Florida Keys (who knew?).  But what we didn’t realize at the time is how good it was for our boys to experience a different culture, how amazingly family-friendly Puerto Rico is, and how our boys would beg – all year long – to go back.  And with days filled with snorkling, jungle hiking, fort exploring, kite flying, and tons of ice cream….can you blame them?

It was also the first time the boys realized that not everyone speaks english.  We have friends who speak a ton of different languages (and Raines’ school is pretty diverse), but typically, most people at least try to speak English.  Puerto Rico was the first time they boys were confronted with people who didn’t speak English…period.  Their little minds were blown!  They somehow had associated the English language with being human – like you’re born with it.  Expanding their horizons has been one of my greatest joys as a mom, and Puerto Rico was a perfectly easy place to start.

Like any amazing trip, we learned a ton.  Keep reading for our favorite places to stay, eat, and play while visiting Puerto Rico with kiddos in tow.

Where To Stay

caribe-hilton-view-from-room

 

We adore the Caribe Hilton in San Juan.  It’s not within walking distance to Old San Jan (I suggest renting a car, but there is a shuttle that can take you to Old San Juan), but this resort is perfect for families with kids.  Multiple pools (with differing depths), hammocks, and it’s own private beach (which is rare in PR) make this our favorite place to stay.  Raines spent hours snorkling in the little cove.  They also have a fun playground, a major water-based playground for older kids, and at night?  You can sit outside enjoying cocktails right next to a large open space where the kiddos can run around.

Here’s what a day at the Caribe Hilton might look like…..

 

Good morning, Puerto Rico

caribe-hilton-mornings

caribe-hilton-beds

caribe-hilton-room-view

caribe-hilton-snorkling

caribe-hilton-snorkling-close-by

caribe-hilton-playground

caribe-hilton-beach

 

 

Seriously good mohitos at the many pool-side bars….

caribe-hilton-best-mojito

caribe-hilton-mojito

caribe-hilton-pool

caribe-hilton-poolside-chairs

caribe-hilton-poolside

caribe-hilton-beachside-hammock

 

 

At the end of the day, cocktails.  While Pax worked on his jedi moves.caribe-hilton-night

 

 

Where To EAT

We had a few hit-and-misses, but here are the places we’d happily go back to:

 

For Groceries

We were thrilled to find Super Foods, the Puerto Rician version of Whole Foods.  Whether you are looking for gluten-free goodies, or vegan products, or just want some fresh tasting food (much of the restaurant food is fried)… this is the spot.

 

The Ice Cream in Carts

If you see these guys pushing the ice cream carts around Old San Juan (and you will)….YES.  YESYESYESYES.

old-san-juan-ice-scream

 

 

Cuatro Sombras

Coffee snobs, this is for you.  Amazing coffee, roasted on the premises (it’s good hot or iced), as well as yummy sandwiches and toast/bagels/etc.  Our favorite morning stop.

cuatro-sombres

 

 

 

El Jibarito

El Jibarito is an Old San Juan tradition.  Sit outside, order fun drinks, and don’t miss the Monfongo – the house (and Puerto Rican) specialty.  This entire block is fun to wander around at night.

el-jibarito-old-san-juan

el-jibarito-mofongo

old-san-juan-at-night-5

 

 

Old San Juan:  Bistro St. Germain

The best cocktails (or mocktails) on the island (not too sweet!!!), fresh salads, and simple sandwiches, Bistro St. Germain is the best place to go when you are sick of restaurant food.  (They do have a more extensive menu, but we stuck to their simple food.  SO.  GOOD.)

old-san-juan-cocktails

 

 

Loquillo Beach

More on this beach later, but just know that the entire beach is lined with these small food shacks.  You can find bars, pizza joints, taco places, and fancy restaurants all in this one strip.  Get food to go, or use the shade as respite from the sun.  (Also, the coconuts come with or without rum.)  Totally worth a trip just for the food alone.

loquillo-with-kids

 

 

Random Taco Shack on The Way To El Yunque

If you find yourself headed up to El Yunque for a little jungle hiking / waterfall swimming but you end up in an argument because #HANGRY….this place.  It’s right on the way as you drive up the mountain.  There are two, actually, but we loved the one on the left.  Fresh coconut water, and seriously good mystery meat.  Haha – just kidding.   I’m pretty sure it was chicken.  ANYWAY….tacos, skewers, empanadas – all simple, but really good.  And if you go inside, it’s worth waiting for a seat by the window…

yunque-tacos

yunque-view

Next up?  Our favorite things to do in Old San Juan, and two perfect day trips.

xo,

S

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About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and shorts known as denim-underwear, always.

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20 Comments

  1. Hi from Denver! Love this blog and this post. Do you mind me asking how old your kiddos are?? I’ve been considering Puerto Rico for awhile now, with a 13 and 4 year old it’s hard to find places that offer things for both ages unless I want to stick the youngest in a kids club.

    • Hi Jena! My little guys (at the time) were 7 and 4. My 7 year old snorkled, while my 4 year old played on the beach. (And for an older kid, the water trampoline and HUGE slide would be a huge hit.) Also, the jungle hiking was pretty amazing, and my 4 year old was able to navigate the path (which surprised us). Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Shana,
    This is EXACTLY what we have been looking for! We’re going to book it! Right now!

    Question – What type of room did you have? The suites, with a seperate area to hang out? Or just a room with two beds? Thinking the seperate sitting area would be handy for after my 4 yr old is asleep, so we don’t have to whisper every night after 9pm 🙂

    • We just went the more affordable route with the room & two beds. It was….FINE….but a suite would’ve been a better choice for sure. Most nights Pax passed out on the outside couches while we had a drink, so it worked out okay, but he was a little more tired than if we had been, ummmm….responsible parents. 🙂

    • Ok – we are officially booked! So excited! I think our last family trip was the Sandpiper in Cape May, which was ALSO a Shana suggestion!! Thanks for the advice – Looking forward to part 2 of this post!

  3. Loved this post! I’ve just finished round 3 of 6 chemos (halfway!) for breast cancer and this is exactly the type of vacation I am pining for. Warm, beachy with just husband and kids.

  4. Looks like a lovely vacation! We’ve had some great vacations with babies/toddlers renting various condos in Rincon, on the west side of the island. An easy drive from San Juan, gorgeous mellow miles long beach, and a hippy surfer vibe.

  5. So jealous! I wanted to plan a trip to PR for Spring Break this year to take my 4 year-old for the first time (well, since our last trip, when I was pregnant with him but didn’t know it yet.) But alas, preggo + zika = no beaches for me until June pretty much. Boo. Glad you had a great trip!

  6. I felt like I was reliving our trip to Puerto Rico with the kids a couple years ago. Maybe we’ll head back this year for a long weekend. Our main trip is 2 weeks out west, and I know we’ll sneak the shore in there too, but there is something about that island vibe…

  7. Shana! Thank you for effectively just planning our summer trip for us! We were just starting the discussions and I kept rejecting renting a house on the Jersey shore because it’s just so much work–like being at home with all the food prep and cleaning up and hauling around! We were trying to think of an easy-to-get-to resort with all that would work for our 4.5 y/o and 2 y/o boys. This looks perfect! Once again, I follow in your footsteps.

  8. Hi Shana! Love your posts on PR. We’re planning a trip there next month with our 5 and 8 yr olds. Lately, ppl have been telling me it’s unsafe due to crime. We fly in late (@1am) & we’re going to rent a car for the week. Should I be concerned? Thanks!

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