When taking kids on vacation to Puerto Rico, you’ll never hear the words “I’m bored!” Mum and Dad can enjoy a tropical paradise while the kids not only have fun, but learn much about history, geography, zoology, botany and so much more. Keep the kids entertained and yourselves stress-free by visiting these great, family-friendly attractions.
Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park
Aquarium, History Museum, Maritime Museum, Architecture Museum, Park
The kids will have a good time climbing up to the top of the lighthouse and seeing the ocean for miles and miles, but they will probably have more fun in the aquarium and museum, and on the mock-ups of the ships outside. Immediately inside the gate is a model of a Taíno village, so you can get some history lessons in right away. They also have pens with different reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, and you will probably see iguanas wandering the grounds. There is also a small water park for younger kids, and both the main park and the water park have small food stands for snacks, like hot-dogs and hamburgers. The park is large, so it gives children a chance to run around, swim and learn—and it wears them out a bit so they sleep well at night!
Recent renovations at Las Cascadas have made it the biggest water park in the Caribbean. It has a Crazy River, wave pools, Speed Slide, the Bomb and the Water Tunnel, while there are also shallow pool areas with toys for infants and toddlers. This is a great place in Aguadilla to take the whole family. They also have food stands that have very reasonably priced food, so you can keep the family happy and healthy.
Cueva Ventana will bring you to an opening that provides one of the most epic views of the island. It’s a strenuous hike, so wear proper clothing and shoes, and consider any health issues beforehand, but the whole family will love exploring these caves. You will encounter many photo opportunities along the way, particularly when you get to the ventanan, or window. If you’re the romantic type, ask about the legend of Salomé and Aruaca. Reservations are not required but recommended, as it will ensure you won’t have to wait too long.
Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is made up of 10 islands, which are best accessed by boat from Las Croabas. When visitors reach the reserve they can see the island’s natural wonders on land as well as in the water. Each of the islands is surrounded by coral reefs that carry a variety of marine life, including turtles that return to the reserve’s sandy beaches every year to lay their eggs. The historic Faro de Las Cabezas de San Juan lighthouse is also located in the reserve.
Hike along the trails of El Yunque on Puerto Rico’s east side and enjoy the US National Forest Service’s only rainforest, which is known for its rare trees and birds. Look for the threatened species of Puerto Rican parrot, and listen for the coqui frog, the symbol of Puerto Rico. It is one of the smallest rainforests, but has a diverse habitat. As of March 2018, El Yunque is closed as it recovers from the massive damage sustained during Hurricane Maria, but you can continue to check their website and plan a trip as soon as it reopens.
Let the kids jump around and burn off energy at Altitude Trampoline Park. They not only have tramps for jumping, they also have trampolines designated for dodgeball, basketball, dunking, and they offer fitness classes and training in competitive jumping. They have locations in Caguas, Bayamon and Gurabo.
Take a drive through the mountains to see breathtaking views and head to Lares. On your drive you will see waterfalls and rivers, and the lush green foliage of this humid region of the island. In the plaza of Lares you will find Heladeria Lares, where you will find some rather unusual flavors of ice cream. Try a taste of the rice and beans, or garlic ice cream. They allow you two free samples to help make your decision and you only live once, so be daring and try something out of the ordinary. Fool the kids into eating their vegetables by getting them a scoop of corn and a scoop of sweet potato.
Old San Juan is the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico and an incredible educational experience for the whole family. Once surrounded by a wall, of which remnants can still be seen, you must visit the two old forts, Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristóbal. You can tour them at your own pace, or take a guided tour that will provide much information about these grand structures. If possible, take a couple days to do walking tours of the city, where you can see Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, the beautiful memorial of La Rogativa, the original main gate to the City, theaters, museums and so much more. Spend some time in the plazas and reflect on the events that happened here that shaped this island. There are many restaurants and shops, and there is also a free trolley service that you can take to many different sites.