We hope you’re as excited as we are for Puerto Rico’s first international art fair in seven years! MECA (short for MErcado CAribeno, Spanish for “Caribbean Market”) is coming to San Juan this weekend and takes place from June 1, 2017, to June 4, 2017. We’ve written the travel guide for everything to do on the island before, during, and after MECA, no matter your budget. Whether you’re a starving artist, a young contemporary, or an art collector, you’ll be sure to enjoy your visit to San Juan.
Where to Stay
For the starving artist: Posada San Francisco
This quaint, family-owned hostel located in the heart of the historic Old San Juan provides a perfect lodging for your impulsive summer getaway. A convenient 10-minute drive from MECA, Posada San Fran offers the authentic Puerto Rican experience through its hand-painted murals and sunshine-filled patios.
For the young contemporary: The Decanter Hotel
Built around 1880, the Decanter’s colonial-style architecture is just as elegant as it is welcoming. Sit back and reflect on all the artistic inspiration you soaked up at MECA in Decanter’s beautiful interior courtyard.
For the art collector: Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
If you’re hoping to relax in style after viewing the vivid art world of Puerto Rico, look no further than the beautiful Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. With its Spanish Revival-style architecture and opalescent views of the Atlantic, Condado Vanderbilt will leave the relaxation connoisseur satisfied.
Where to Eat — (Vegetarian and vegan friendly)
For the starving artist: Pinky’s
As any vacationer knows, brunch is the most important meal of the day. With its affordable prices and delicious sandwiches, this hole-in-the-wall diner is the perfect place to visit to fuel up before heading to MECA.
For the young contemporary: Verde Mesa
Known for its organic and locally sourced dishes, Verde Mesa will not disappoint, especially if you love seafood. Plus, it’s only minutes away from San Juan’s historic landmarks and best art museums, like La Puerta de San Juan and El Museo de Las Américas.
For the art collector: Marmalade Restaurant & Wine Bar
Enjoy the best of Caribbean cuisine that San Juan has to offer at this #1-ranked restaurant, and don’t leave Puerto Rico without tasting Marmalade’s famous white bean soup.
Where to Drink
For the starving artist: El Batey
After admiring the art at MECA, get a taste of local life with a drink (or several) at El Batey. Pick a song from its retro jukebox and leave a mark on San Juan by adding your name to its graffiti-covered walls.
For the young contemporary: El Bar Bero
This cleverly named bar is a barbershop by day and cocktail bar by night.
For the art collector: Santaella
Just a three-minute drive from MECA, this restaurant is located in a beautiful historic building. Even more impressive is the quality of their drinks–Santaella’s bartenders have won the local World Class competition for four years in a row.
What to Do
For the starving artist: Salsa at Nuyorican Cafe
What better way to celebrate the vibrant culture of Puerto Rico than dancing? Eat some cheap (but delicious) pizza and learn to salsa with live music at Nuyorican Cafe.
For the young contemporary: Shopping along Fortaleza Street
You’ll need some souvenirs from your wonderful trip to Puerto Rico, so check out the stores along Fortaleza Street while exploring Old San Juan.
For the art collector: Private tour a Bioluminescent Bay and El Yunque National Rainforest
After a long day of seeing Puerto Rico’s culture expressed through art at MECA, experience the island’s natural beauty on a kayak tour of one of the bioluminescent bays. We found a wonderful combined tour with El Yunque National Rainforest on Viator.
Additional reporting // Peter Dreux
top photo // courtesy of @tounyrawdriguez