San Juan often gets overlooked by people looking for a warm-weather getaway, which is unfortunate because it makes for an easy jaunt from most of the United States. And if you’re one of the majority of Americans who doesn’t carry a current passport, the good news is that you don’t need one to fly to Puerto Rico.

San Juan – particularly Viejo San Juan, the part of the city that was settled first – offers up a European flair, with wrought-iron balconies and Easter egg-colored houses, where residents call to one another above the cobblestoned streets. Wander around to browse the shops, soak in the history of a 500-year-old fort or 17th-century cathedral, or just sit on a bench to take in the sights of the city and enjoy the energy that radiates from the people.

If you need a dose of the ocean, here’s San Juan’s bonus: no matter where you are in the city, the beach is never far away.

In recent years, the culinary scene in San Juan has started to gain some serious traction, and chefs and foodies from around the world are taking note of the native cuisine, with its Latin and Caribbean influences. If you’re in town for one of several food festivals – the South Fortaleza Culinary Festival in June and September, or the Condado Culinary Festival in May or October – make sure to swing by.

If you have some time to explore another part of the island, perhaps taking a quick hop via plane or ferry to reach one of the islands like Vieques or Culebra, it’s easy to get there from San Juan.

And if you need a dose of the ocean, here’s San Juan’s bonus: no matter where you are in the city, the beach is never far away.

Lisa Rogak is a freelance writer and New York Times Bestselling author. Her latest book is "And Nothing But The Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert.

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