We headed off the ship in San Juan with only one goal for the day, and that was to visit the Fort, or Castillo San Felipe del Moro. Aly has been collecting Junior Ranger badges at National Parks, Monuments, and Historic Sites across the country, and we knew there was one to be had in San Juan. Off we went, and headed from the dock towards the city. We spotted a tourist information center, and went inside for directions to the Site as well as recommendations for a good local place to eat. Whenever we travel, we try to avoid the chain restaurants or tourist traps for our meals, and have had great luck in asking locals in the past.
Map in hand, we headed down the Paseo de la Princesa, which is the historic promenade originally built in 1853. It runs between the San Juan Bay and the curving, old city walls. Our first stop was at a great playground hidden back among a garden area. We love finding playgrounds in other cities and countries to play on, so we made a pit stop. It’s also a good way to break up all the walking we do while sightseeing and keep Aly interested in the day. She always enjoys meeting new “friends” and play is certainly a universal language. Chris may have overestimated his ability on the balancing obstacle, promptly ending up on his back on the ground, but saving the camera!
We continued along the Paseo, next coming upon the beautiful Raices Fountain, and then onto the Old City Gate.
After passing through the Gate, it was time to head up to the Castillo and earn that Junior Ranger Badge. We really love the National Park Service Junior Ranger program, as it keeps Aly engaged with what otherwise might not be the interesting to her but something that we would enjoy learning about. Truth be told, sometimes it keeps me more engaged as well! Each Junior Ranger booklet is a little different, but most involve some puzzles, exploring the visitor center, and writing down the child’s observations of the sites around them. Aly’s favorite part seemed to be standing in the observation towers, and writing down how it would feel to have been a guard in that tower. Badge in hand and oath taken, it was time to find some lunch!
We walked along through Old San Juan, back in the direction of the dock. We found one of the restaurants that had been recommended, and ordered a quick lunch that included empanadillas, rice (both delicious) and mofongo (interesting). We finished our walk back through Old San Juan, admiring all of the colorful buildings, and onto the boat. San Juan was a beautiful city, and after researching excursions that we unfortunately didn’t have time for on this trip, is a place that we could certainly return to someday.