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Puerto Rico offers both the excitement of travel and the comforts of home. This US commonwealth is often called the gateway to the Caribbean, and American citizens don't even need a passport to visit. Spanish and English are the two official languages, and particularly in the capital city of San Juan, English is widely spoken. But at the same time, Puerto Rico is decidedly exotic: claimed for Spain by Columbus, the island's centuries of Iberian rule gave it Spanish-influenced architecture and traditions, which have since evolved into a unique culture. Puerto Rico offers the best of both worlds.
Things to do in Puerto Rico
San Juan may be the capital, but Old San Juan is the historic heart. It's the only walled city in the Caribbean, and its 17th- and 18th-century buildings, cobblestone streets, and four fortresses reveal what the place was like once upon a time. In San Juan is the Museo del NiÃ±o, a hands-on, interactive museum that also offers live entertainment, such as puppet shows.
There's also plenty to see for nature lovers in Puerto Rico, including El Yunque Rainforest, which is filled with hiking trails that lead you past cascading waterfalls (you can even swim in the water at the higher elevations of the park). Puerto Rico has 272 miles of coastline and hundreds of beaches, but the hands-down family favorite is Luquillo Beach, which is thirty miles east of San Juan. The water is crystal-clear, the sand is white, and coral reefs shelter the lagoon, making it a safe place for young kids to go swimming.
The Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park contains 1,000-year-old stone monoliths and petroglyphs, which were created by the Taino Indians who once inhabited Puerto Rico. Another place that will fascinate kids is the ZoolÃ³gico de Mayaguez, a zoo that features a wide-open Savannah-like environment for its inhabitants.
Where to stay in Puerto Rico
If travelers are looking for the comforts of home for a reasonable price, they should consider staying as one of Puerto Rico's four Holiday Inn properties. Like all outposts of this famous chain, these hotels are family-friendly, and their amenities include outdoor pools and babysitting services. The Wyndham hotel chain also has four properties in Puerto Rico. Each one has a kids' club that offers a ranges of sports, activities, and even day trips for the twelve-and-under set.