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Considered the cultural capital of Puerto Rico, the city of Ponce nestles hard up against the Caribbean Sea in the lee of the Cordillera Central mountain range. The historic downtown is still being restored after a long period of decay. Walking its narrow streets is a delight. Start at Plaza Las Delicias, the main square, where the much-photographed, red-and-black-striped Museo Antiguo Parque de Bombas (Firefighters Museum) is the city's highlight attraction. The world-class Museo de Arte de Ponce has one of the Caribbean's finest collections, with more than 3,000 works of art housed in a brand new facility opened in 2010. This is the city's ...

Considered the cultural capital of Puerto Rico, the city of Ponce nestles hard up against the Caribbean Sea in the lee of the Cordillera Central mountain range. The historic downtown is still being restored after a long period of decay. Walking its narrow streets is a delight. Start at Plaza Las Delicias, the main square, where the much-photographed, red-and-black-striped Museo Antiguo Parque de Bombas (Firefighters Museum) is the city's highlight attraction. The world-class Museo de Arte de Ponce has one of the Caribbean's finest collections, with more than 3,000 works of art housed in a brand new facility opened in 2010. This is the city's must-see, well worth a drive from San Juan in its own right. Other museums not to miss include the Museo de la História de Ponce and, on the city outskirts, the Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes, where pre-Columbian ball courts provide a fascinating cultural study. Ponce also makes a great base for exploring the south coast. Birders and hikers should set their sights on the Bosque Estatal de Guánica, a dry forest reserve with a well-developed trail system. Offshore, The Wall is considered one of the Caribbean's finest dive zones.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    End of February for the Carnaval Ponceño. February-April offers the nicest weather. Ponce can broil in mid-summer, the humid hurricane season.