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Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Puerto Rico When It Rains

Updated: Jun 12

A vacation to Puerto Rico can be a thrilling adventure if you enjoy zip lines, rum tours and canyon rapelling. Unfortunately, many of the things to do in Puerto Rico are not exactly kid friendly if you have a toddler. You can't even bring kids on the rum tours, let alone strap your 3 year old to a rainforest zipline.


So when my husband had a business trip recently to the area of San Juan called Isla Verde, I of course wanted to join but instantly felt like activities with a toddler in Puerto Rico may be limited.


A coffee plantation could be fun, I though, but I didn't have a car. The Children's Museum (Museo del Niño de Carolina) sounded cool, but again, no car.


I felt like maybe I was doomed to spend the whole vacation at the beach and pool, just me and my toddler (while my husband worked horribly long days). Let me be clear, I love spending time with my daughter, but I am NOT a beach person.


By a twist of fate, the heavens decided to rain on us almost the entire trip. So, we had to improvise.


What exactly can you do in Puerto Rico with a toddler? Even more limiting...in the RAIN?


Here is how we spent (and how you can spend) four rainy days in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, including where to eat, how to get around without a car, and how to shift focus away from beach and pool days with kids. There's plenty more to see and do (and did I mention, EAT?)!


girl holds her hat in a narrow alley of a fort turret

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Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Puerto Rico When It Rains



Supposedly the biggest mall in the Caribbean,we were definitely going to do some damage dress shopping. With early success in the day, my daughter got a beautiful fancy gown for $5 and I got several for all less than $10. We were doing great!


There was even a play area for children to enjoy.


child sits on green play area structure


The mall is indeed huge and a little frustrating to get around with a stroller due to slow elevators placed in awkward locations. Plan to spend a whole day here, including lunch (we ate at PF Changs).



Go Bowling!


Sure enough, there's an AMF bowling alley near the mall and it was no different than anything you'd experience at home. It felt a little pricey, but worth the few hours indoors and out of the rain. We bowled in our fancy dresses for a bit of extra fun!


bowling with kids

You can easily find several options for bowling alleys just by googling what's nearest to you. We went to AMF Bolera Paradise Lanes.



Old San Juan Forts


With a $10 multi-ticket, visitors can see both El Morro (“the big fort”) and San Cristobal, which has cool tunnels to explore.


girl walks through white tunnels

An amazing day out for all ages, we got some great photos and fun memories poking around and exploring the rooms and the history of the forts.


Keep in mind, the forts aren't super stroller friendly.



Yes, The Pool and Beach


Our hotel, the Royal Sonesta, had a great bar and restaurant on the sand, perfect for me to watch my daughter play with sand pails while I sipped a cocktail and noshed on bacalaitos.



The pool had a nice area that was shallow for children very near the swim up bar, so again, mommy gets a cocktail, while the daughter gets to splash and play.


It's a win win, catching my drift?



Walk to the Local Stores


We walked to the CVS for a few minutes of browsing for souvenirs and snacks, and then on to the giant supermarket seen from the highway behind the main drag at Isla Verde. It's called the Supermercado Pueblo.


We spent over an hour in that big grocery store! I loved looking through all the Hispanic specialties from PR and the ones I recognized from my time in Spain, too. I bought some goodies for a hotel room picnic, which was great fun!



Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Isla Verde and Beyond


We ate a lot. When we couldn't go out, we'd enjoy having snacks and dancing the salsa or cha cha at the hotel lounge together, or having a picnic in the room.


We went out whenever we could and always took the opportunity to get gussied up. I realize that for some parents this sounds like a nightmare, but my kid is a joy to dine with. I bring a couple little things to entertain her if I need a moment, but mostly we got to just chat about the restaurant, the day, and giggle about silly kid stuff.


The shining glory of our trip was FOOD. I am a foodie by nature when I travel. I tend to seek out local cuisine, more off the beaten path. In this case, Isla Verde is a tourist haven so you can only really get so much 'local flavor', but here's where we ended up:


The Royal Sonesta Beach Restaurant

The first night we enjoyed dinner on the beach at our hotel in Isla Verde, where I ordered steak and yuca fries in an attempt at a classy meal with my three year old, who was excited to be toes in the sand.



The meal was delicious, even though she tossed sand into my gin and tonic. Oh well. Beware the no-seeums - they attacked my only exposed skin on my ankles!


Opt in for a Puerto Rican breakfast, complete with rice, beans and plantains! Or, get one of their heaping fresh fruit cups. Yum. Cute vibes and an easy walk from the hotel, this is worth repeating.




With adorable murals on the walls and cozy seating, I enjoyed a cold glass of Pinot Grigio before we both indulged in a fresh bowl of mussels and clams drenched in garlic and butter, and some lobster ravioli. As dual citizens with Italy, the red checkered tablecloths made us feel at home.


red checkered tablecloth table with a mural of the pontevecchio


At the very popular La Casita Blanca settled in a residential neighborhood off the beaten path, we had our first taste of the world’s most amazing bacalaitos, which are flat fried cod fritters. We sampled local cuisine like carne guisada and ajo shrimp, and I kicked back some cold Medalla beers.



I recommend getting there before they open, as a line forms around the block. Enjoy the perfectly homey atmosphere, and enjoy the quirkiness too, like whole onions holding down the napkins on the table. So cute and so worth it.


Located on the main drag in Isla Verde, it's one of several sushi options on that strip. The decor is simple but their sushi portions were obscene and drenched in multi-colored drizzles.


plate of three sushi rolls

Frankly, I was literally four days off of returning from Japan (yes, we do jet-set), and it wasn't exactly comparable, BUT their appetizers and drink prices were reasonable and good enough to satisfy post-pool bellies. Ask for the little plastic things for kids to put on their wooden chopsticks.


A slightly vicious walk across an over-the-road bridge (the vicious part is hauling the stroller up and down the stairwell) will take you from the beachside hotel street to this Spanish haven.


We indulged in the fruits of my husband’s homeland of Spain at Panaderia Espana. A huge cafeteria, we snacked on jamon and bechamel filled croquetas, tortilla espanola, and a guava quesito.


spanish breakfast foods on paper plates

Just like at the Italian restaurant, Spain has become a second home to my small family, so any upset from the trip so far was behind us in a haze of delicious bliss.


Go to the Panaderia for breakfast, lunch or dinner.


My daughter fell asleep in her stroller after we explored Old San Juan's forts, so I was able to pop into the “birthplace of the Piña Colada” at Barranchina in Old San Juan.


woman in hat and red shirt sips a pina colada

They say it is recommended to get there early to wait in line, but there was no wait for us. I simply asked to be sat at the bar (which was not allowed because I had a child, another thing to add to the list of restrictions), but they quietly put me at a table in a bar area.


The only thing is they told me if I have more than one drink I have to go tell the host booth that I want to stay. I guess that they anticipated crowds?


hat and glasses on a table with two pina coladas

Nevertheless, the piña colada did not disappoint, and was worth a sit down away from the elements.


On the main drag again, we got dressed up fancy and I took my daughter to a tapas bar. Mostly for adults, they were still so thrilled to take care of us both and happy to welcome a young child. We were greeted with freshly snipped cream colored carnations and a dazzling menu of unique cocktails and snacks.


The atmosphere was ever so insta-worthy, with floral wallpaper and funky lighting. Cocktails were served in smoke boxes, with tarot cards and even a lucha libre masked canteen, and their drinks were phenomenal.


woman in black dress with a carnation and floral wall behind her

Paired with creative Puerto Rican tapas, we sampled ropa vieja croquettes, fried paprika chickpeas, tuna tartare and more.


Breakfast foods in a vibrant spot on the main drag. Try inventive pancake options, juices and more. We enjoyed it!


egg sandwich with chips


How to Get Around Isla Verde without a Car


As soon as we had arrived in Puerto Rico, the plane thumped to the ground and waves of clapping and cheering came from the Southwest Airlines passengers behind us. A common, thing I hear.


After leaving the airport terminal, you'll see a taxi line. Eager to get moving, I chose to take a taxi, which operates on fixed prices. DO NOT DO THIS.


Uber is super cheap. Forget the taxis, they price gouge. Uber always. I paid upwards of Twenty something bucks for a five minute ride with the taxi, versus the $4 it took me to return.


I had originally feared the “terrible driving” in PR, binding us to traveling on foot or by uber, but honestly the roads were fine and the drivers were no different than in Florida.


Related: Many don't realize, but renting a car abroad really isn't that scary. Here's some do's and don'ts to get you feeling comfortable and ready to tackle the International roads!



Next time, I'd definitely rent a car, which would have opened up some doors for us in the entertainment department, but we did very well this trip going on foot or by taking short uber rides.




Is Puerto Rico Safe For Kids?


I felt perfectly safe my entire trip. We didn't stay out much past dinner time and kept to the hotel zone at night. If it felt too far to walk or a little uneasy, we'd simply take an uber door to door. The distances weren't bad at all, but taking the uber gave me great relief.


When we did choose to walk, in the evening cars were darting in and out of the shops and restaurants along the main strip, and my kid has a tendency to excitedly run ahead, so it can be a little nervewracking.


woman walks on a covered bridge

Lastly, I would not recommend walking across the over the road bridges after dark. They were empty and dark and felt a little uncomfortable.



Overall

In our four nights in Puerto Rico, my daughter and I never traveled further than 10 miles from the hotel. We never stepped foot in the rainforest, the coffee plantations, or even the children’s museum.


colorful umbrellas line the sky of a colonial street


We didn’t have to “go” anywhere. We didn’t have to “do” anything. I was so caught up and worried about what we’d do without a car, with her dad at work all day and with age restrictions on all the fun stuff that I almost lost sight of what mattered most - an amazing time spent with my daughter.


a father and daughter hold hands on the beach

I got to watch my husband play in the surf the morning we were leaving, running from the waves with my little girl in the sunshine of the first perfect weather day the whole trip. Her smiles and his laughter warmed my heart and the whole trip was worth it.

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