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Family Activities in Puerto Rico

Old San Juan

Old San Juan is dotted with museums and historic sites. The best known is Fuerte San Felipe del Morro or El Morro, Old San Juan, Tel. 787/729-6754. This fort, one of the most photographed sites in the Caribbean, contains a museum and is administered by the National Park Service. On its grounds, the Cuartel de Ballaja, once Spanish troop quarters, now houses the Museum of the Americas.

The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm; there is no admission charge. Start with a video on the site then take a self-guided tour. You’ll find a map at the entrances, and exhibits throughout the park are posted in both English and Spanish. Even if you’re not a history buff, this site is a family place where you can look out on the sea and enjoy a gentle tradewind. Bring along your camera for this scenic stop.

Nearby, Casa Blanca, 1 Sebastian Street, Old San Juan, contains exhibits on 16th and 17th century life and on its most famous residents: Ponce de Leon and his family. (Actually Ponce de Leon died before the home was completed.) Built in the 1520s, the home was the city’s first fortress and is now open for tours Wednesday through Sunday.

Rio Camuy Cave Park

Puerto Rico is rich in natural attractions, including what is called one of the finest cave systems in the world. The Rio Camuy Cave Park, Route 102, Tel. 787/898-3100, located 2-1/2 hours west of San Juan, was formed by large underground rivers. Today the park includes a new visitors center with reception area and cafeteria and a theater with AV presentation. Visitors reach cave level by trolley then follow walkways on a 45-minute guided tour.

El Yunque National Rainforest

Another natural attraction is El Yunque National Forest, Highway 3 east between San Juan and Fajardo to Route 191 near Luquillo, Tel. 787/888-1810, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest Service. Forty-five minutes east of San Juan, the rainforest boasts 240 species of trees and flowers, including 20 varieties of orchids and 50 varieties of ferns. Walking trails carve through the dense forest, and guided tours are available.

Children's Museum

Kids also enjoy the Children’s Museum or Museo del Niño, 150 Cristo, San Juan, 787/722-3791. Young visitors enter the museum through the legs of a large wooden figure then enjoy hands-on displays and activities from a village of playhouses to a “Visit the Dentist” exhibit where children can play dentist.

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