For Thanksgiving this year (2019) we decided to do things a little differently than we normally do. Scott’s family (parents, cousin, and aunt, & uncle) joined us for 5 days and 4 nights in Puerto Rico. It.Was.Amazing!
Ever since moving away from family, Thanksgiving can be a bit of a bummer – so when we learned that other family members were willing and excited about the idea of traveling for the Holiday we booked it immediately!
When we travel with our kids we like to have a healthy balance between fun, relaxing, adventure and educational. This trip had the perfect combination of our requirements!
Marriot Stellaris Resort and Casino
We stayed at the Marriot Stellaris Resort and Casino and it was great. The rooms were clean, we were safe and the food was yummy (enough). The pools were fantastic, and the location to the ocean was spectacular. The beach was quiet. Later in the week we wanted to go Jet Skiing and we had to drive about 10 minutes to another beach, but because we had rented a car it was not a problem at all! When we arrived at the new beach it was packed and busy. I was grateful that we had a nice quiet beach.
Speaking of renting a car, we rented through Alamo. We went with their Drive Happy Deal because as we priced out rentals it was crazy expensive. With their drive happy deal, it was less than 40.00 a day. We didn’t know what car they would give us but we knew it would be midsize or larger. When we arrived they told us to pick which car we wanted out of the row. It was great, and very inexpensive compared to every other car rental company available.
Day one | Explore old San Juan and El Morro Castle
Day one we drove into Old San Juan, to explore the city as well as El Morro fortress. This day checked off the fun, adventure, and educational requirements.
El Morro is a fortress that was built in 1539-1540. The six-level fortress sits overlooking San Juan Bay. It was built by Spain and is the largest fortification built by them in the Carribean. The United States used the fortress during World War II.
Admission is only $3.00 for adults and free for children. We spent nearly two hours exploring all of the levels and rooms. The fortress is “wide-open” so it was VERY hot. Thankfully there was a small shop that sold cold water!
After we explored the fortress, we bought the boy’s kites ($11 each) and they were able to fly them on the front lawn. Hands down the best kite flying experience we’ve ever had or will likely ever have again.
Day 2 | El Yunque National Rainforest
Exploring the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System, was a must-visit location for us. It was a 40-minute drive from our hotel.
Unfortunately because of Hurricane Dorian a few months earlier, a lot of the trails were shut down due to damage. However, we still had an amazing experience. We did not plan on this, but we trekked the 3,087ft up the mountain to Mt. Britton. It is just a small tower at the top of a mountain. I am not sure why we said we had to do it, but once we started we refused to quit. It was beautiful once we reached the top. The kids felt proud that they made it to the top – I’d say it was worth the hike. Just make sure you are wearing outdoor/hiking shoes!
After our hike, we spent a little time exploring the waterfalls that were open and close to the road. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for lunch at El Yunque Treehouse restaurant. It was one of the best meals we had on our whole trip. Highly recommend it!
Day 3 | Relaxing Day!
Today we spent our time swimming in the ocean and pool. We ordered lunch poolside and Scott and I were able to sneak away for 2 hours to go on a jet skiing tour. We had really hoped to find a company that would allow the boys to go with us, but none of them allowed children under the age of 12. So thankfully the grandparents were happy to spend the morning at the pool with the boys!
Day 4 | Bacardi Rum Tour and last walk around San Juan
This was our last day in paradise. Half of our family had to be at the airport by 1:00 and we had to be there around 3:00. We decided to do the Bacardi rum tour ($15 for adults). It was a quick and interesting tour. Short and fast-paced enough to keep the kids and adults interested. After the tour, we said our tearful goodbyes, and went to lunch in Old San Juan and spent just about an hour walking around the shops before heading to the airport.
Traveling with my children and Husband is one of the greatest joys in my life. We have a lofty goal of getting the boys to all 50 states before they turn 18. In addition, we want to get them out and exploring every new location that we possibly can. Now that they are a bit older, and our lives no longer revolve around naptimes, diaper changes, and feeding schedules traveling with my family is one of the greatest gifts I could ever ask for!