Want to feel like you are getting away, like REALLY away? Puerto Rico feels like you are traveling to another country but because it is a U.S. territory, no passports are needed! Think days at the beach, amazing food (plantain and coconut everything!), rainforests and adventure around every corner. Here’s why you should experience Puerto Rico with your kids.
Puerto Rico with Kids: Getting There Is Easy
Direct flights from the U.S. are plentiful including routes from Houston, NYC, Orlando and more. The airport in San Juan is small and easy to navigate, which is perfect for when you’ve had a day of mid-air kid wrangling. There’s no passing through customs in Puerto Rico so you can grab your bags and get on your way as soon as you arrive.
If your flight gets in late and you need somewhere to stay near the airport, we recommend Aloft San Juan at Distrito T-Mobile, San Juan’s newest multisensory immersive entertainment complex. It’s just a 10-minute drive from the airport and the rooms are comfortable for families. Breakfast is served in the lobby (for an extra fee) and nearby you’ll find Toroverde Urban Park where you can zipline under the Puerto Rican sun and test your skills at the indoor obstacle course.
The Kids Will Love Visiting the Rainforest in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Forest is a major draw for families traveling to Puerto Rico and you’ll definitely want to add it to your itinerary. Your first stop should be the visitor center that was only recently reopened after being almost completely destroyed in the 2017 hurricanes. Here you can learn about the plants and animals (and HUGE bugs!) that make up the rainforest and what you can do to protect this essential natural resource. Hiking is one of the highlights of El Yunque and there are trails for all levels of hikers.
If you plan to drive yourself into El Yunque, be sure to check the reservation requirements before you go. There are also many tour operator who will take you there for half- and full-day excursions from San Juan.
Looking for More Adventure? Read On
Families with older kids will likely be looking for more than just beach days to keep everyone happy. For snorkeling and so much more, book the mini boat adventure with Kayaking Puerto Rico. Up to four people ride in your own mini boat (yes, you drive it yourself!) and you head out to snorkel in the coral reefs of La Cordillera Nature Reserve followed by some time exploring a nearby island. The minimum age for this activity is 6 but we’d recommend it for ages 10 and up as the waves can make it a bit intense and kids really need to hold on tight for the whole ride. Go in the morning to avoid the heat of the afternoon and snag some lunch at Cinco Nudos, located right at the harbor, when you are done.
For another option, Hacienda Campo Rico offers ziplining, horseback riding, ATVs and more. They also have a restaurant on-site with some delicious local plates that our whole group devoured. The horses that took us out on the hour-long trail ride were a little “frisky” so we’d recommend this one for older kids/teens.
Top Thing to Do with Kids in Puerto Rico: Museo del Niño de Carolina
You might be thinking that a children’s museum is only good for younger kids (as this is what we originally thought too) but you should definitely plan to spend some time at the Museo del Niño de Carolina. When you arrive, you see a real 747 that you can walk through right next to the museum building. Inside are lots of exhibits to explore like a nail bed and a piano you can dance on. There’s even a volcano with climbing wall for all those active kiddos.
But the highlight for our young visitors was definitely the museum’s outdoor activities. They have a go-cart course that will get the heart pumping and a playground to get all the wiggles out. Definitely plan to ride the pontoon boats for a tour of the mangroves in the San Juan Bay Estuary. If you are lucky, you just might get to see a plane landing on the nearby runway while you are out on the water.
The mini zoo had birds that you could feed, friendly goats, some tortoises and even an impressive peacock. Plan to spend at least a half day at the museum while you are in town.
Where to Stay with Kids in Puerto Rico: Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa
Located just 30 miles outside of San Juan, the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect home base for your visit to Puerto Rico. The property is massive and you’ll pretty much have to force yourself to leave the property once you’ve arrived. Rooms either have rainforest or ocean views and you can choose from rooms with two queens to a family suite that has a king bed for the adults and a bunk bed for the kids.
Also on the property you’ll find the Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham, a timeshare property with rooms that have their own mini kitchens and margarita makers.
Adults can take a break from the kids for some time in the spa or the casino (or both!). Tennis and golf facilities are also available
Three pools are available for guests and you know the kids will want to check out the water slide and in-pool volleyball court while they are there. The resort offers daily activities for families from dance parties with their favorite characters like Buzz Lightyear and Woody, to the daily iguana feeding (yes, the wild iguanas on the property know when feeding time is!). Dive-in movies are another family favorite.
Just beyond the pool area are miles of white sand beach to enjoy. If you come at the right time of year, you might even get to witness the sea turtles leaving their nests for the sea.
The dining options on the property are both plentiful and excellent. Roots Coastal Kitchen was a favorite with farm-to-table offerings like shrimp tacos and the best fried chicken in town. Save room for the oatmeal ice cream or grab a scoop from their to-go counter on your way to the pool. Head over to the golf course to enjoy Iguanas Cocina Puertorriqueña with all of the Puerto Rican favorites like mofongo and empanadas. The Tiki Hut and Five O’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill serve up fish tacos and burgers poolside, along with all the tropical cocktails and mocktails you desire.
For more ideas on what to do with kids when you visit Puerto Rico, check out the Discover Puerto Rico website. Here you can find out where are the best stops when visiting Old San Juan, how to book bioluminescent kayak tours and the easiest way to get to the islands of Vieques and Culebra.
Editor’s note: This trip was paid for by Discover Puerto Rico and Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa but all opinions belong to the writer.