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San Juan is the capital and most populous city in Puerto Rico. Founded in 1521 by Juan Ponce de León, who named it City of Puerto Rico (Rich Port). The capital of Puerto Rico is the oldest city under U.S. jurisdiction, but some people argue than St.Augustine, Florida, founded in 1565 is the oldest city in the continental United States.

The history of San Juan begins a long time before its official foundation, in 1493, during his second voyage, Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico. He named the island 'San Juan Bautista', in honor of John the Baptist. But was not until 1508, that the Spanish government appointed Juan Ponce de León as the first governor of the island. He founded the original settlement in Caparra, now known as Pueblo Viejo, behind the almost land-locked harbor just to the west of the present metropolitan area and the city quickly became Spain's most important military outpost in the Caribbean.

City

A year later, the original settlement was relocated to a nearby coastal islet (to the site of what is now called Old San Juan) and named Puerto Rico (Rich Port). Sometime during the 1520s, confusion over the names led to a switch, the island took the name of Puerto Rico and the town became San Juan.

Old San Juan

Today, San Juan is known as La Ciudad Amurallada (the walled city) and is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean and is the second oldest European-founded city in theAmericas (after Santo Domingo, which was officially founded on August 5, 1498.)

San Juan is located in the Northern Coastal Plains region in the karst zone, north of Aguas Buenas and Caguas; east of Bayamón; and west of Carolinaand Trujillo Alto.

The metropolitan area known as San Juan has 3distinct areas: Old San Juan, the Beach & Resort area, and other outlyingcommunities, the most important: Río Piedras, Hato Rey, Puerta deTierra, and Santurce. Río Piedras was founded in 1714 but becameincorporated into San Juan in 1951.

During the early 16th century, San Juan was the point of departureof Spanish expeditions to charter or settle unknown parts of the NewWorld. Its fortifications repulsed the English navigator Sir Francis Drakein 1595, as well as later attacks.

In the 20th century the city expanded beyond its walledconfines, known as Old San Juan, to incorporate suburban Miramar,Santurce, Condado, Hato Rey and Río Piedras.

San Juan is the largest processing center of the island, themetropolitan area has facilities for petroleum and sugar refining,brewing and distilling and produces cement, pharmaceuticals, metalproducts clothing, and tobacco. The port is one of the busiest in theCaribbean. San Juan is the country's financial capital, and many U.S.banks and corporations maintain offices or distributing centers there.San Juan is center of Caribbean shipping and is the 2nd largest seaport in the area (after New York City).


Paseo La Princesa

Points of Interest

Old San Juan

This is a 500-year-old neighborhood originally conceived as a military stronghold. Its 7-square-block area has evolved into a charming residential and commercial district. The streets here are paved with cobbles of adoquine, a blue stone cast from furnace slag; they were brought over a ballast on Spanish ships and time and moisture have lent them their characteristic color. The city includes more than 400 carefullyrestored 16th- and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings. Old San Juan is a main spot for local and internal tourism andattracts many tourists, who also enjoy the gambling casinos, finebeaches, and tropical climate. More tourists visit San Juan each yearthan any other spot in the Caribbean. A leisurely foot tour is advisablefor those who really want to experience this bit of the Old World,especially given the narrow, steep streets and frequently heavy traffic.To really do justice to these wonderful old sites, you'll need twomornings or a full day.



Old San Juan provides a free trolley service to get you around the city. The trolley runs every day Monday through Friday from 7am until 6pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9am until 7pm every 15 minutes. Most of the trolleys are accessible for wheelchairs and mobility devices and identified with the blue International Symbol of Accessibility.

You can also explore Old San Juan at your own pace on a bike, rent your own bicycle for $27 a day, helmet included. Rent the Bicycle, 1-787-602-9696.

Old San Juan

Old San Juan has several plazas: Plaza de San José is a favorite meeting place for young and old alike. At its center stands the bronzestatue of Ponce de León, made from a British cannons captured induring Sir Ralph Abercromby's attack 1797. The plaza isskirted by a number of historic buildings.

Abutting Plaza San José is the Plaza del Quinto Centenario(Quincentennial Square), opened in October 12, 1992. This plazais the cornerstone of Puerto Rico's commemoration of the 500th anniversaryof Columbus' discovery of the New World, has a sculpture which rises 12meters (40 feet). The monumental totemic sculpture in black granite andceramics symbolizes the earthen and clay roots of American history and isthe work of Jaime Suarez, one of Puerto Rico's foremost artists.

Plaza de Armas (Arms Square) is Old San Juan's main square, on San José Street. Features four statues representing the fourseasons; all are over 100 years old. It was carefully planned as the main citysquare and has served as a social meeting place for generations.

Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square) was originally called St. James Square was renamed in 1893 to honor Christopher Columbus on the 400th anniversary of his discovery of Puerto Rico; bronze tablets at the pedestal of the Columbus statue record important episodes in the explorer's life.

Plazuela de la Rogativa (Plaza of Religious Procession) was built in 1971, features a modern sculpture depicting a procession of religious womencommemorates an event that took place on the site in 1797. During thespring of that year, a fleet of British ships led by under Sir RalphAmbercrombie sailed into San Juan Bay, meaning to launch an assault on thecity and take control of the colony. When the attack was foiled, theyundertook a naval blockade of San Juan, hoping to starve the residentsinto submission. As the towns people began to despair of any help fromsoldiers garrisoned in the inland towns, the governor ordered a rogativa,or divine entreaty, to ask the saints for assistance. The women of thetown formed a procession through the streets, carrying torches and ringingbells. The British, hearing the commotion and seeing the moving lights,decided that reinforcements had arrived and quickly sailed off.

The Plaza de Hostos is located near La Casita, features artisandisplays, snack stands, and traditional piragüeros, who sell shaved ice topped with tropical fruit syrup.

La Perla

La Perla is a historical ramshackle barrio astride the northern historic city wall of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, stretching about 650 yards (600 m) along the rocky Atlantic coast immediately east of the Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery and down the slope from (north of) Calle Norzagaray. It is not probably a sight you expect to see in a major tourist zone.

Established in the late 19th century, the zone was designated for cemeteries, slaughterhouses, and homes of former slaves, servants and the homeless. The law required to be established away from the main city zone; in Old San Juan's case, outside the city walls. Over time, the city's poorer residents established their homes there.

Today, La Perla has a population of 338, 198 housing units (29 unoccupied). Residents have defended their right to keep their homes despite goverment efforts to get them to move and transform the area to increasetourism revenue.

SitesIf you have only one day to explore Old San Juan, these are my recommendations.

Parks

The Parque de las Palomas (Pigeon Park) is located near the Paseo de la Princesa, next to Capilla del Cristo at the end of Cristo Street.This park overlooks the restored La Princesa Jail, now a government office with an attractive art gallery. It is the perfect spot from which to enjoy a magnificent view of the harbor, city and mountains. It is also a great choice for familieswith small children; kids will enjoy interacting with the local pigeons.

The Luis Muñoz Rivera Park is an spacious ocean side park with large trees, landscape gardens and wide walks, located on Jesús T. Piñero Avenue. Open Tues-Sun 9:00am - 5:00pm.

Other parks include: Martí Coll Linera Park, and Central Park(with facilities for jogging, baseball, calisthenics and tennis).

Forts

San Felipe del Morro was named in honor of King Phillip II, commonly known as El Morro, is a 16th-century citadel.The word itself sounds powerful and this six-level fortress certainly is. The construction of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro began in 1540 when King Charles V of Spain authorized its construction, including the surrounding walls and completed in 1589. Most of the walls in the fort today were added later, in a period oftremendous construction from the 1760's-1780's. Rising 140 feet above thesea, its 18-foot-thick wall proved a formidable defense. It fell onlyonce, in 1598, to a land assault by the Earl of Cumberland's forces. Thefort is a maze of tunnels, dungeons, barracks, outposts and ramps. ElMorro is studded with small, circular sentry boxes called garitas that have become a national symbol. The views of San Juan Bay from El Morro are spectacular. The area was designated a National Historic Site in February, 1949 with 74 total acres.It has the distinction of being the largest fortification in theCaribbean. In 1992, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Puerto Rico byChristopher Columbus, the fortress was restored to its historical architectural grace and beauty.El Morro Fortress is a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service. The fort is open to the public everyday from 9am to 6pm except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Admissions US$5 adults, children under 15 free, 1-787-729-6960.



Castillo de San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Fort) is El Morro's partner in the city's defense. Built in 1634 (completed in 1771), was considered the Gibraltar of the West Indies. SanCristóbal was supported by a massive system of outworks which provideddefense in depth and is is one of the largest defenses ever built in theAmericas. It rose 150 feet, covering 27 acres of land. As if its size andheight weren't sufficient to intimidate enemies, its intricate modulardesign was sure to foil them. A strategic masterpiece, it features fiveindependent units, each connected by moat and tunnel; each fullyself-sufficient should the others fall. It's a World Heritageand National Historic Site, administered by the U.S. National ParkService. Open daily from 9am to 6pm; 1-787-729-6960.

The Fuerte San Gerónimo (San Gerónimo Fort) was built on the opposite end of San Juan to strengthen the city's defenses. The fort is located behind the Caribe Hilton Hotel, with small military museum in Puerta de Tierra.

The Santa Elena Battery building with a long chimney-topped bunker was the formal army storage area.


El Morro

Buildings and Other Areas of Interest

La Fortaleza (also known as the Palacio de SantaCatalina began construction in 1533 and finalized the 25 of May of 1540, as a fortress. It was authorized to be built by Charles V as a defenseagainst Carib Indian attacks. The building was the first of a series of militaryfacilities constructed in the Bay of San Juan, but soon later proved inadequateto guard the entrance to the harbor, and became the official Governor'sResidence. The oldest governor's mansion still used as such in Western Hemisphereand part of the old city's World Heritage Site. It has been occupied twice byinvaders; by the Earl of Cumberland in 1598 and by the Dutch General BowdoinHendrick in 1625 when the building was damaged by fire. A major reconstruction wasundertaken in 1640. In 1846, the building was remodeled and given a palatial aspect, unitingharmoniously 16th century military architecture with the refinements ofthe 19th century. It has been the home of 170 governors of Puerto Ricoand is the official residence of the current governor. Although theoriginal structure (Palatial Building surrounded by gardens) was veryprimitive, La Fortaleza has undergone numerous changes over its 400 yearsof history. Free tours are available daily. Open Mon-Fri9:00am-4:00pm; guided tours in English on the hour, in Spanish every 30minutes, 1-787-721-7000 ext. 2358. Tours last about 40 minutes. Access tothe official areas is not permitted.

The Alcaldia (San Juan's City Hall), started construction in 1602, completed in 1789. In the 1840's the building was heavily remodeled providing its present day facade intended by its builders to be an exact replica of Madrid's. The building has atourism information center and a small gallery for periodic exhibitions.Open Mon-Fri 8am - 4pm, except holidays. Free admissions. 1-787-724-7171 ext. 2391.

El Capitolio (Capitol Building of Puerto Rico) hold the offices of senators on one wing and those of representatives on the other, with galleries, friezes, mosaics and animpressive rotunda in which Puerto Rico's constitution is exhibited. Construction began in 1919 and the building was inaugurated on February 11, 1929.Guided tours by appointment only, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, 1-787-721-5200 ext. 301.

The Catedral de San Juan (San Juan Cathedral) is the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere; construction began in 1521. The original church on these grounds had wooden walls and a thatched roof. It was destroyed by hurricane in 1526 (October 4th), rebuilt in in 1540, looted in 1598, and damaged by another hurricane in 1615. The Cathedral as seen today is the result of work done in 1917, when major restorations were performed. This Cathedral is an authentic and rare New World example of medieval architecture. The cathedral contains the marble tomb of the island's first governor Juan Ponce de León and the relic of San Pio, a Roman martyr. San Juan Cathedral still holds religious services on a regular schedule. Visitors can explore the cathedral from 8:30am to 4pm daily.



The Iglesia de San José (San José Church) began construction in 1523. Juan Ponce de León gave the land where the Church now stands. Originally called the Church and Monastery of Saint Thomas Aquinas, it was built by Dominican friars to serve as the monastery's church and chapel dedicated to Saint Thomas Aquinas. The section erected in 1532, the Main Chapel or Sanctuary, is an excellent example of 16th century Spanish Gothic architecture. Ponce de León, was buried here for 300 years until hisbody was moved to the San Juan Cathedral in 1913. This was the family church ofPonce de León's descendants. Puerto Rican painter José Campeche, who contributed a great deal to the beautiful churches of his island, is buried here. Open Mon-Sat 8:30am - 4pm, Sun mass at 12:00pm; 1-787-725-7501.

The Capilla del Cristo (Cristo Chapel) was built in the 18thcentury (1753). The stories surrounding the history of this small chapelconflict wildly except on one point: someone on horseback took a terriblespill off the cliffs at the end of Calle Cristo. Whether he lived, andthe chapel was built to commemorate the miracle, or whether he died, andthe chapel was to block off the street and prevent such an accident fromhappening again, is the part of the story that is in dispute. Thebeautiful Campeche paintings and altar inside can be seen through thechurch's glass doors. Open Tues. 10am - 4pm.

The Casino of Puerto Rico was built just before World War I. The exterior - in the style of French mansions of the Louis XVI era, a copper copula, a large ballroom with elaborate plaster-work and a 12-foot chandelier distinguish this building.

The Teatro Tapia (Tapia Theater) was built in 1832 (financed bysubscriptions and by taxes on bread and imported liquor) and remodeled in1949 and 1987 is one of the oldest theaters in the Western Hemisphere,was named for Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, the famous Puerto Ricanplaywright. Still hosts a variety of entertainment in the fine arts,plays, ballets and concerts. 1-787-721-0169 or 1-787-721-0180.

Centro de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Center) opened its doors in 1981. The modern facilities offer concerts, plays, and opera. It isthe largest fine arts center in the Caribbean. Located on Ponce deLeón Avenue, Santurce. Ticket windows are open daily from 10am to6pm. and remain open until 8:00 p.m. on performance nights. 1-787-725-7353, 1-787-725-7354 or 1-787-725-7358.

The Escuela de Artes Plásticas (School of Fine Arts) was built by the Spanish colonial government in the 1800s. Previously the facilities served as an asylum for mental patients.

La Intendencia, formerly the Spanish colonial exchequer, a fineexample of 19th century Puerto Rican architecture, now houses PuertoRico's State Department. Open Mon-Fri 8am - 12pm, 1pm - 4:30pm, 1-787-722-2121.

Museums

The San Juan Museum of Art and History was built in 1855 as a market and restored in 1979 as a cultural center, showcases Puerto Ricoart and music, including concerts and festivals. Open Tuesday-Sunday,10am - 4pm, 1-787-724-1875.

The Pablo Casals Museum is the Spanish master's legacy to the people of Puerto Rico. The museum collection includes manuscripts,memorabilia, photographs and a library of videotapes of Festival Casalsconcerts. Casals moved to Puerto Rico with his wife in the 1950s. Hebecame the conductor of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and thepresident of the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico. The museum is openTuesdays through Saturdays, 9:30am to 5:30pm. Admissions US$1 adults,US$0.50 children, 1-787-723-9185.

Casa de los Dos Zaguanes (House of the Two Foyers) is home of the Museo del Indio (Museum of the Indian) and features exhibits onthe indigenous peoples of the Caribbean region, with exhibits, ceramics and archaeological digs. Located on San José Street, Old San Juan. OpenTues-Sat 9am - 4pm. Admission free, 1-787-724-5477 or1-787-722-1709.

The Asilo de Beneficencia (Home for the Poor) was built 1840s forthe indigent people. Today houses the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (Institute of Puerto Rican Culture)offering exhibits galleries every day, features an impressive collectionof artifacts from pre-European Puerto Rico, including pottery, stone toolsand relics, and a recreation of a Taíno village. Open Wed-Sun: 9am -4:30pm. Admission: US $1. 9 Calle Santana Elena Norzagarais, 1-787-724-5949 or 1-787-724-5477.

The Convento de los Dominicos (Dominican Convent) was built byDominican friars in 1523, this building has served alternately as aconvent, as a shelter against Carib Indian raids, and as the Caribbeanheadquarters of the U.S. Army. The convent contains a small chapelmuseum. Open Wed-Sun, 9am - 12pm, 1pm - 4:30pm; cultural events are sometimes held in the patio, art exhibitionsin the galleries, 1-787-721-6866.

The Casa Blanca (White House) was built in 1521 and lived in by Ponce de León descendants for over 250 years. In 1779 it was taken over by the Spanish military, then used later by the United States as a residencefor military commanders (1898-1966). Today the mansion serves as NationalHistoric Monument, housing a museum of 16th, 17th and 18th centuryhistory. Each room is decorated in a style associated with a period of thehouse's history. Casa Blanca is the oldest continuously occupiedresidence in the Western Hemisphere. Located on San Sebastián Street,Old San Juan, it houses a ethnographic museum and Taino (nativeIndian) artifacts. Open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 9am tonoon, 1pm to 4:30pm. Guided tours Tuesday-Friday byappointment. Admission US$2 adults, US$1 children, 1-787-724-4102.

The Casa Rosada (Pink House) was built in 1812 for the Spanisharmy. Today houses a government tourism office where you can pick upbrochures, maps and a complimentary welcome cocktail made with Puerto Ricanrum.

La Casita (Little House) is home of the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. Information Center. Open Mon-Wed from 8:30am to 8pm;Thu-Fri until 5:30pm; and Sat-Sun, 9am to 8pm. 1-787-722-1709.

The Casa de Ramón Power y Girault is the headquarters for theConservation Trust of Puerto Rico, it also serves as a conservation resourcecenter, in which critical environmental issues can be explored through aninteractive multimedia exhibition entitled OJO-ISLA. Located at 155 TetuánStreet. Open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 4:00pm, 1-787-722-5834.

The Ruinas de Caparra (Caparra Ruins) are those of an ancient fort where Ponce de León founded the first settlement on the island in 1508. The Museum of the Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico at the ruins offers historical documents, exhibits and artifacts. Open daily 9am -4pm, 1-787-781-4795.

The Cuartel de Ballajá (Ballajá Barracks or Ballajá Quarters) housed Spanish soldiers and their families in the late 1800s, the building could accommodate up to 1,000 people. The construction began in 1854, the main building was completed in 1863 and the chapel was added in 1881. Originally conceived as a solution to the lodging needs of military personnel stationed in San Juan. The Cuartel de Ballajá is a three-story square building with large gates on two ends, ample balconies, designed with a series of arches and a protected central courtyard that served as a plaza and covers a reservoir. The Cuartel de Ballajá was the last and largest building constructed by the Spaniards in the New World. Facilities included officer quarters, warehouses, kitchens, dining rooms, prison cells andstables. After the Spanish American War, the U.S. Army used Ballajá to house its Infantry division. In 1943, it was converted into a military medicalfacility, known as the Rodriguez Hospital and it was part of the Fort Brookestructure. Today it houses the Museum of the Americas (inauguratedOctober 12, 1992), located on its second floor. The museum features changingexhibitions, craft exhibits and an impressive collection of Caribbean andEuropean American art and artifacts, most notably a diverse collection of carved santos (saints). Open Monday-Friday 10am - 4pm, Sat-Sun 11am - 5pm, guided tours available weekdays 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm and 2pm. Admission free, 1-787-724-5052.

The Museo de Doña Fela (Felisa Rincón de Gautier Museum) is a colonial building that was once the home of Felisa Rincón de Gautier, the dynamic mayor of San Juan from 1946 to 1968. Memorabilia from the mayor's life, such as plaques, correspondence and furniture, are ondisplay. Open Mon-Fri: 9am - 4pm; 1-787-723-1897.

The Sacred Heart University with the Museum of Contemporary PuertoRican Art (Tue-Sat 9:00-4:00 p.m., Sun 11am - 5pm, 1-787-268-0049.

Others museums include: The Archaeologist Adolfo de Hostos Museum, and the Museum of the Seas.

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Other Sights

San Juan Beach & Resort area. This area starts just outside of Old San Juan and includes the areas of Condado, Miramar, Ocean Park and Isla Verde. This is a area of fancy hotels, casinos, nightclubs, restaurantsand chic boutiques.

Casa de los Contrafuertes (House of Buttresses) is a traditional Spanish-style home, which holds the Museum of Colonial Architecture and the Museum of the Puerto Rican Family. This is believed to be the oldest residence left in Old San Juan, dating back to the early 18th century. Open Wed-Sun, 9am - 4:30pm, 1-787-724-5949. Also within Casa de los Contrafuertes you will find the Museo de Nuestra Raíz Africana (African Heritage Museum), features African artifacts, including masks, maps, musical instruments, and paintings. Open Mon-Fri from 9:30am to 5pm, and Sat from 10am to 5pm. Admission free, 1-787-724-4294 or 1-787-724-4184.

Casa del Libro (House of the Book) is an 18th-century house that is now a book museum holding a rare collection of early manuscripts and books (nearly 5,000 works), some dating back to the 15th century.Among the museum's most precious possessions are two royal mandates signed by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1493 concerning provisioning Columbus' fleet for hissecond voyage. Open Tues-Sat, except holidays, 11am - 4:30pm, 1-787-723-0354.

La Puerta dee San Juan

The Puerta de San Juan (San Juan Gate) was built in the late 1700s, is one of six heavy wooden doors in the wall which for centuries wereclosed at sundown to cut off access to the city and protect the city frominvaders. The wall is up to 20 feet thick and up to 40 feet tall.

La Princesa (the princess), formerly the local San Juan penitentiary was built in 1837. It is elegantly landscaped with trees, a fountain, and a bronze sculpture. The building houses the Puerto Rico Tourism Company headquarters and rotating art exhibits. Open Mon-Fri from 9am to 4pm. 1787-721-2400.



Paseo de la Princesa (promenade of the princess) is an elegantly landscaped walkway with trees, statues, benches, street lamps andkiosks. The promenade faces the bay.

Centro Nacional de Artes Populares y Artesanias (Popular Arts and Crafts Center) is part of the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture, displays and offers for sale a verity of island crafts.

University of Puerto Rico which include campus, University Museum andthe Jardin Botánico (Botanical Garden) is located in the Río Piedras. The University Museum has archaeological and historical exhibitions, and also monthly art exhibitions. Open Monday-Friday, 9am - 11pm,weekends 9am - 3pm, 1-787-764-0000, ext 2452. The Botanical Gardenis a living laboratory of the native flora of Puerto Rico, with over 200species of tropical and sub-tropical plants. There are many exoticplants, including Egyptian papyrus, red palm, rain tree, candle tree,cantaloupe tree, the shapely Puerto Rican palm, and much more. Open daily9am - 4:30pm, 1-787-250-0000 ext 6580 or 1-787-763-4408.

The YMCA was built in 1914 and today shares the building with the Olympic Committee. Its facilities include a patio and the Salón de los Presidentes, (a meeting room).


El Morro

Cementerio de San Juan (San Juan Cemetery) is located between El Morro and the rocky cliffs above the Atlantic is considered one of the most picturesque of burial grounds anywhere. The cemetery is particularly noteworthy for its elaborate tombstones and the circular neoclassical chapel dedicated toMary Magdalen. The most notable piece is a circular, red-domed chapel,which dates back to the late 19th century.

Piñones Reserve is a sub-tropical moist forest, includes mangroves, sea turtle nesting sites and beautiful beaches. No campingallowed.

Colonial Adventures offers organized historical and art walking tours ofOld San Juan, 1-787-729-0114.

Ferry services are offered from San Juan to Cataño, across the San Juan Bay. Departs daily from Pier 2 in Old San Juan every half-hour between 6am and 10pm. For information call 1-787-788-1155.

The Roberto Clemente Coliseum is a sports and concert arena that seats a maximum of 10,000 spectators. It was named after baseball hall of famer Roberto Clemente. Construction of the facility began in the early 1970s, it was finished in January 1973. It was the most important sports center in Puerto Rico for over three decades until 2004, when the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum was inaugurated. Located on Franklin Delano Roosevelt Ave., (787) 294-1037.

Economy

The manufacturing in San Juan includes clothing, sugar refining, cement, metal goods, tobacco and brewing.

Notable People

There are many well-known 'sanjuaneros', among them:

  • writer Manuel A. Alonso
  • journalist José Julián Acosta
  • comedian José Miguel Agrelot
  • former governor Luis Muñoz Marín (the island's first elected governor)
  • antropologist and archeologist Ricardo E. Alegría
  • writer and historian Tomas Blanco
  • actor Raul Julía
  • golfer Juan 'Chi-chi' Rodríguez
  • painter José Campeche
  • educator Rafael Cordero
  • former governor Pedro Rosello
  • musician and composer José Enrique Pedreira

Symbols

Flag
The San Juan flag was officially adopted on March 8, 1948. It displays coat of arms of the city in the center on a white field.

Anthem: En Mi Viejo San Juan

Geography

San Juan is made up of 11 barrios (wards/districts):

  • Caimito
  • Cupey
  • Hato Rey
  • Monacillos
  • Old San Juan
  • Puerto Nuevo
  • Quebrada Arenas
  • Río Piedras
  • Santurce
  • Sabana Llana
  • Tortugo

Climate

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San Juan enjoys year round summer temperatures, an average annual temperature of 79.9°F (26.6°C). On average, the warmest month is June and the coolest month is February.

San Juan averages 50.75 inches (1,289 mm) of rain per year. November is the average wettest month.

Restaurants

San Juan is full of countless dining options with unique themes, locations, and cuisine.

Accommodations

There are several well-known hotels, guest houses and everything in between.

Festivals and Events

  1. Concurso Nacional del Cuatro - December
  2. Concurso Nacional de Trovadores - May
  3. Dia de los Reyes - January
    Three Kings Day is the traditional gift-giving holiday on the island, commemorates the day that the three Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ child. In La Fortaleza the governor honors the tradition by handing out gifts to island children.(787) 724-7171
  4. Festival Casals - March 3-16, 2019
    A world-class music festival honoring the cellist and composer Pablo Casals take place in San Juan, Ponce and Mayagüez every year since 1956.
    Soloists and orchestras from all over the world join the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra to perform concerts night after night, over about three weeks from late February into March.
    Fine Arts Center. Avenida De Diego at Avenida Ponce de Leon. (787) 620-4444
  5. Festival Cultural del Nino - September
  6. Festival de la Calle de San Sebastian - January
    This festival sponsored by the Institute for Puerto Rican Culture, take place in San Sebastian street for three days, celebrating Puerto Rican culture with a full program of parades, folkloric dances, music, food and crafts.(787) 724-0910
  7. Festival de Teatro Musical - January
  8. Festival de Verano - June
  9. Festival Folklorico Internacional - January
  10. Festival La Casita - Year-round
    Live music and dance shows take place at Darsenas Plaza next to to La Casita Tourism Information Center and on Sunday 4 to 7 children's theater followed by romantic sunsets, trio concerts are held along Paseo La Princesa, open to the public.(787) 721-2891
  11. Fiestas Patronales de San Juan Bautista - June
    Every year, San Juan celebrates a patron saint festival. The festivities include dances, food, parades and religious processions.(787) 724-7171
  12. Final de la Copa Mattel Wheels - December 20 at 9:00 a.m.
    (787) 283-1848
  13. Gallery Nights - Year-round
    Occurs every first Tuesday of each month, 30 art galleries open their doors from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Old San Juan
  14. LeLoLai Cultural Festival - January 27 - May 25
    Every Tuesday at 6:00pm San Juan National Historic Site and Puerto Rico Tourism Company present Ballet Folklorico Areyto as part of the Le Lo Lai Cultural Festival. Fort San Cristobal is located on Norzagaray St. Entrance fee is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors, $1.00 for children 13 and above. Children under 12 are free.
  15. Saborea - April 4-7, 2019
    Saborea is Puerto Rico's premier food festival. This culinary extravaganza takes place in Carolina Beach and brings together the island's top chefs and famous international culinary personalities. Admissions $65.(787) 751-8001
  16. San Juan Bautista Day - June
    San Juan celebrates the island's patron saint with week-long festivities, including religious processions, music, dancing, games and beach bonfire parties. At midnight on the first day of festivities, revelers walk backward into the ocean or nearest body of water three or seven times to ward off evil spirits and renew good luck for the coming year.(787) 721-2400
  17. San Juan Cinemafest - October
    Puerto Rico's very own film festival shows entries submitted by countries from all over the world.
  18. Sofo Culinary Fest - August/December
    Sofo Culinary Fest is considered one of the most popular annual food festivals in Puerto Rico. The street festival is held twice a year in Old San Juan. Featuring over 40 restaurants, barsand live music setup at various stages throughout. The festival is a great way to sample dishes and cocktails from some of the most popular restaurants in Old San Juan.

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Demographics *

Land Area: 47.85 sq mi

Density: 8261.8 per sq mi

Median Age: 39

Economics *

$7,235
Per capita income (2013)
Puerto Rico: $11,068

Median household income: $22,754
Puerto Rico: $19,624

Persons below poverty line: 40.10 %

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Housing, families and educational attainment *

165,316
Number of households
Housing units density: 4178.0

Persons per household: 3.02

High school grad or higher: 76.3%

* U.S. Census Bureau 2010 data unless otherwise noted.

Map References

Coordinates: 18.4500° N, 66.0667° W

Zip Code: 00901, 00902, 00906, 00907, 00908, 00909, 00910-00917, 00919, 00920-00929, 00930, 00931, 00933, 00934, 00936, 00940

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Interesting Facts

  • When the United Nations designated world-class historic sites such asthe Taj Mahal, it named six monuments in Old San Juan.
  • San Juan is the largest home-based cruise port in the world.Twenty-eight vessels use San Juan as their home port, and each year newcruise ships either originate or call at the port.

Book a Hotel in San Juan with Booking.com

Maps

  • Walking TourThrought Old San Juan Map (Frommer's Puerto Rico, 5th Edition)

Books

Other Resources