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The weather is starting to take a turn for the cold, meaning it’s time to start looking toward the tropics. San Juan, Puerto Rico is a place of beauty and rich, rich culture. Whether you want to beach yourself for a weekend in the sun, climb through the rainforest, explore streets laid centuries ago or drink to your heart’s content, San Juan has what you’re looking for. Our advice: The resorts are wonderful, but don’t miss out on the culture. Here’s what to do in Puerto Rico in October.

San Juan

San Juan, Puerto Rico by air. Photo: Roger W. – Flickr.

Train, plane or automobile — Since Puerto Rico is, in fact, an island, your best mode of transport is going to be by plane. A boat is an option if you’re on a cruise or a giant cargo ship (hint: sarcasm), but flights usually aren’t too outrageously priced. San Juan has two airports, but you’ll likely fly into Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, which is just outside San Juan, in neighboring municipality Carolina.

Tren Urbano

A station for the Tren Urbano in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo: Vxla – Flickr.

Cheap local transit — Most people recommend renting a car while in Puerto Rico, to get you out of San Juan and into some of the island’s richest forms of nature. Keep in mind, though, that the city has the highest density of cars on the road in the world, and congestion is common. Yet one of the reasons so many cars are on the road is because there doesn’t seem to be much faith in the public transportation system, Alternative de Transporte Integrado. That is the cheapest option though, with trips on buses, vans and trains all $0.75.There’s also a light-rail system called Tren Urbano.

Old San Juan

The colorful buildings in Old San Juan. Photo: Cogito Ergo Imago – Flickr.

Stroll through Old San Juan — When people who have never visited Puerto Rico envision San Juan, this neighborhood is probably what they see. The narrow streets are lined with vibrantly colored houses, many edged in gorgeous balconies with views. There are cafes on the street serving up authentic fare in the summer-like weather, and live music often springs up on the corners. It marks the oldest settlement within Puerto Rico, and history is everywhere. Even the streets themselves — made from a blue cobblestone brought over by the Spanish, who used it as a ballast in their ships — are historical.

Ocean Park Beach

Ocean Park Beach in San Juan. Photo: Alan Kotok – Flickr.

Bask on a beach — Many visitors come to Puerto Rico and see nothing but the beaches, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are some small, noteworthy beach towns on the outskirts of the city, but let’s focus on the beaches around town. There’s a beach for every visitor, from chill and low-key to Miami fresh. Condado Beach is hip and trendy, with casinos near the water and lots of activity. La Playita in Condado has calm waters that make it very kid-friendly. Ocean Park Beach is more laid back. Or, stay in one of the many resorts surrounding the city and enjoy their beaches. The Balnearios are government-run beaches and are free except parking. No matter which beach you choose, the weather will be just about perfect—Puerto Rico in October sees average temps of 78 degrees.

rum

Rum is big in Puerto Rico, and mojitos reign. Photo: saragoldsmith – Flickr.

Revel in some rum — Puerto Rico is one of the world’s largest producers of rum, so what better place to indulge in a piña colada? Wherever you are, you won’t have to stray too far to find that sweet, sweet rum, but here are a couple of suggestions: Punto de Vista, on Calle Fortaleza in Old San Juan, is a bar on the roof of Hotel Milano—and visitors rave about their mojitos. Marilyn’s Place, on Calle de San Francisco, also has plenty of tasty, tropical options, along with a shaded street patio. Oh, and it’s very near the water.

Casa Blanca

Casa Blanca in San Juan. Photo: Roger W. – Flickr.

Experience some history — If you stay in Old San Juan, as we’ve discussed, history is all around you. The Catedral Metropolitana Basilica de San Juan Bautista is one of the oldest buildings in San Juan, and the second oldest cathedral in the Americas. Now it acts as the Archdiocese of San Juan. There’s La Fortaleza, built before 1540. There’s also Casa Blanca, the house built for the first governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de León and his family in the 1520s, which has been turned into a museum. The list goes on and on.

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Tagged: Beach, Caribbean, Food & drink, International, Tips & advice

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Spring has sprung, meaning your surroundings may finally start looking less like a desolate wasteland and more like that beautiful Earth we hear so much about. And frankly we all deserve to celebrate a victory of making it through the doldrums. Here are some ridiculously colorful destinations to jumpstart your spring travels.

sedona arizonaSedona, Arizona: It won’t take long to figure out why this part of the Grand Canyon State is known as Red Rock Country. Rust-colored sandstone formations set the backdrop for a warm Western escape, whether you’re into hiking, touring the mountains an off-road vehicle or just admiring them from the window of a spa retreat.

south beach miami

Miami Beach, Florida: With its pastel-colored Art Deco buildings, colorful cocktails and glitzy nightclub lights, South Beach’s Ocean Drive will dazzle your days and nights. For even more color, head to the Wynwood Art District on mainland Miami, where seemingly every exterior wall has been transformed into a mesmerizing mural.

san juan puerto rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Whether you’re vacationing in the island’s capital or just disembarking from a cruise ship for a few hours, a jaunt through this 16th-century city will brighten your spirits. Pastel-colored architecture lines the narrow streets, and the seemingly endless monuments and souvenir craft are a feast for the eyes.

st john's new foundling and labrador canada

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: It’s easy to have Eastertime on the brain in this historic fishing town, where the streets are filled with candy-colored houses known as Jelly Bean Rows. Visit the cafes, boutiques and galleries by day, and after dark hit George Street, where you’re sure to stay warm as you dance the night away under the nightclub lights.

harbor island bahamas

Harbor Island, Bahamas: White sand beaches are so overdone. But Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island breaks the mold. Lounge on the coral-hued sand, or go for a dip in the calm, turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

grand prismatic spring wyoming

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming: #NoFilter needed here. The largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park looks amazing on its own. The natural wonder, also known as Rainbow Hot Spring, gets its coloration because from the various bacteria that lives in its rings of heat. Hey, the science may not be sexy, but it sure looks cool.

fairbanks alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska: With average high temperatures struggling to reach the freezing mark, Fairbanks may seem like an odd choice for a winter getaway. But if it’s color you’re after, then winter’s clear skies make now the perfect time to witness Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. the northern lights.

Tagged: Uncategorized

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If your dream of a white Christmas includes white sand beaches, then you can still get into the holiday spirit. Opt for one of these tropical destinations that offer all of the cheer with none of the cold.

CheapTickets-Key-West-Florida-boat-parade

‘Twas the “Bight Before Christmas” in Key West, Florida. Photo courtesy of Florida Keys News Bureau.

Key West, Florida: The nation’s southernmost city always marches to the beat of its own drummer boy, and the holidays are no exception. Cruise around the island on a bicycle for a close-up view of the light-strewn palm trees and decked-out historic cottages, or hop on the Holly Jolly Holiday Trolley Tour. The highlight of the season is the Schooner Wharf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade, a festive flotilla of decked-out boats and live music. Then stick around for New Year’s Eve to watch the giant conch shell drop at midnight, ushering in 2016 with thousands of other sun-kissed revelers.

Christmas in the Magic Kingdom

Christmas in the Magic Kingdom | Flickr CC: Sam Howzit

Orlando, Florida: Combine the wonder of the holiday season with the magic of Disney, and we dare you not to smile. From Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom to the daily Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida to the Christmas Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Florida, each theme park ticket comes with an extra dose of magic for the holidays. If you don’t want to shell out money for theme park admission, then seek out free fun like photo ops at the decked-out Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) or the annual Florida Citrus Bowl Parade. Then head to about 65 miles east to Cocoa Beach to catch the Surfing Santas.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii | Flickr CC: Daniel Ramirez

Honolulu, Hawaii: If you’re on the West Coast, then investing in airfare to Hawaii can be a good move. There are plenty of free and cheap holiday amusements, including the Honolulu City Lights, a monthlong festival that includes decorations, live entertainment and family-friendly activities. Also be sure to greet Santa as he paddles onto the island by canoe at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Arrive on the beach early to stake out a good spot, then stick around for photos with the big guyin the hotel’s lobby.

Cheap Tickets-Tropical Christmas-San Juan Puerto Rico-shutterstock

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Swap your eggnog for coquito, a coconut-and-rum concoction that’s a staple on Puerto Rican tables during the holidays. The best ways to celebrate are free, like walking the cobblestone streets to check out the glittering displays against the backdrop of Old San Juan’s colonial architecture that would put your neighbors’ Christmas lights to shame. Hang around long enough and you’ll encounter another free tradition: the parranda. This moveable fiesta is like a caroling party that grows with each passerby.

Catedral de San Miguel de Allende

Catedral de San Miguel de Allende | Flickr CC: Agustin Polanco

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: The festivities get going in mid-December with the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, highlighted by a children’s parade featuring a young girl dressed as the holy icon. The season rolls on with Las Posadas, a series of roving reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s journey through Bethlehem. But the most important night for Mexican Catholics is Christmas Eve, a.k.a. Noche Buena, when a manger is set up in the center of El Jardin, the town’s main square, complete with live animals.

Cheap Tickets-Tropical Christmas-Barbados-shutterstock

BarbadosSpice up the season with a visit to this laid-back Caribbean island, whose capital city of Bridgetown is decked out in red and green lights. Enjoy a feast of traditional dishes like pigeon pea-based jug jug and great cake, the island’s answer to fruit cake. Also take a day trip to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, where you can observe tortoises, monkeys and colorful birds that you definitely won’t find up North this time of year.

Cheap Tickets-Tropical Christmas-Cayman Islands-Camana Bay

Cayman Islands

Instead of cozying up to watch your favorite holiday movie under a blanket, every Tuesday in December you can watch a Christmas under the stars in Camana Bay, which is decorated for the season. Explore all the decorations on the Christmas Bus Tour of Lights, which includes a visit to a Mission House and a traditional island holiday feast. Save room for cassava cake, then be sure to wait two hours before you dive into that turquoise water.

Tagged: Beach, Family, Florida, FREE!, Holidays, Mexico, Off-season, Seasonal

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Puerto Rico hotels
By Kate Schwartz

This fall CheapTickets is offering amazing savings on already cheap vacations. Score a tropical vacation for a fraction of the price with CheapTickets’ deals on Puerto Rico hotels. Explore the shores of this tropical wonderland and take advantage of all Puerto Rico has to offer. From its very own rainforest, to world-renowned Latin cuisine, it’s no wonder that the Island of Enchantment is this season’s vacation hot spot. Check out these offers on Puerto Rico hotels:

  • 50% off San Miguel Plaza : For a limited time only, San Miguel Plaza, located in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, is offering 50% off hotel rooms. A short drive from the beach and across the street from prime shopping, San Miguel Plaza is the perfect place to experience true Puerto Rico culture and cuisine.
  • 20% off Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde : If your idea of a relaxing vacation involves lounging in a hammock under lush palm trees while sipping a beverage out of a pineapple, look no further than Courtyard by Marriott Isla Verde in San Juan. Tropical travel can be cheap when you take advantage of 20% off your stay at this hotel.
  • 30% off vacation packages at Gran Melia Puerto Rico : Get luxury for less! Enjoy Gran Melia Puerto Rico’s sprawling estate and vacation like never before. With expansive pools, top-notch restaurants and an on-site spa, you may never want to leave. With 30% off vacation packages, there isn’t a better time to try this luxurious resort.

Your Caribbean vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. With CheapTickets’ fall travel deals, you can book one of these cheap hotels and enjoy a great Puerto Rico vacation. Many of these cheap hotel deals expire in November, so book today.

CheapTickets resources:

Kate Schwartz is a marketing coordinator for CheapTickets. When she’s not searching for the best travel deals, she’s out taking advantage of them!  From hiking the Rockies to lounging on the beaches of Barcelona, Kate is always looking for adventure.

Tagged: FREE!, International

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Cheapflights
Airfare to cities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico is on sale. AirTran Airways is offering cheap flights for fall and winter travel. So if you want to take a vacation, check out airfares like these:

  • Atlanta to San Juan: $244
  • Chicago to Miami: $204
  • New York to West Palm Beach: $184
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul to Dallas/Fort Worth: $264
  • Denver to Fort Lauderdale: $284

These cheap flights don’t include taxes and are for round-trip travel through January 30, 2009.

You could plan a long weekend in Los Angeles, or a relaxing getaway in Phoenix. No matter where you want to travel, you’ll save on airfare with this sale from AirTran and CheapTickets.

Hurry, sale ends October 14.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, Limited-time Offers