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7 Great Places to Eat in San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Maya Stanton
January 27, 2022
Old Street with lamp and blue house
Maya Stanton
Put on your stretchiest pants and prepare to feast.

With its beautiful white-sand beaches, a picturesque, colorful old town, and tropical Caribbean climes, Puerto Rico’s capital city has plenty to recommend it. But if you visit San Juan and don’t do some serious eating, you’re really missing out. From rich coffee (some of the best in the world) and stellar pastries (be sure to try the quesito, a tangy-cheese-filled treat with a crisp, sugary exterior) to snacks (the stuffed fritters known as alcapurrias are especially addictive) and fine dining, you really can’t go wrong. Here are seven delicious, budget-friendly bites from my last trip—each one $18 or less.

1. Jose Enrique

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A chance to support a local civic-minded chef who also happens to be a James Beard award semi-finalist, and one of the island's most lauded culinary ambassadors to boot? Yes, please. Chef José Enrique offered up his restaurant as the initial base of operations for the disaster-relief work his friend José Andrés’s organization, World Central Kitchen, did in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and on top of that, his food is really something special. Though it’s a casual spot located in the neighborhood of Santurce, in a humble building sans signage, Jose Enrique is hardly nondescript. Between the bright-green exterior and the reasonably priced, ever-changing menu of traditional Puerto Rican favorites, it’s one for the highlight reels. For starters, try the poppers ($12), battered and fried chunks of fish in a creamy, spicy sauce, or the crab (above; $14), served cold with tomatoes, red onions, and herbs, doused with lime, and layered with a slice of avocado on a platter of crispy green plantains. Though they're equally good, the mains are pricier, so consider making a meal of the appetizers, and you'll walk away happy. (Pro tip: The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so arrive early and prepare to queue up. Lunch is a great option, especially mid-week—I went on a Wednesday, got there when it opened, and had my pick of the tables.)
176 Calle Duffaut, San Juan; 787.725.3518; joseenriquepr.com.

2. Lote 23

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Launched in late 2016, Santurce’s Lote 23 is equal parts food park and community center: Its kiosks and Airstream trailers feed locals and tourists alike, and it’s a destination for yoga, music, and dancing too. If you’re coming to eat, you can fill up on hearty plates of pernil or fried chicken, go light with a poke bowl, snack on an order of croquettes, perk up with an iced Puerto Rican cold-brew coffee, and fill in the remaining cracks with a handmade popsicle from Señor Paleta. These are not the vaguely fruity concoctions you may remember from your childhood—we’re talking vibrant, full-bodied flavors here, from gelato-style varieties like peanut, pistachio, nutella, and dulce de leche to tropical sorbets like mango, guava, soursop, and passionfruit (above). They all ring in around $3 a pop (...pun intended), and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
1552-1558 Avenida Juan Ponce de León, San Juan; lote23.com.

3. Santaella

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With a chic, industrial-meets-contemporary dining room facing a lush, interior garden and a chef who’s worked with famous names like Ferran Adría and Eric Ripert, this fine-dining space in Santurce has the potential to be a real budget-buster. The smart bet is to swing by at lunch to sample chef José Santaella’s upscale, market-driven cocina criolla for less than $20, or belly up to the bar in the evening for a cocktail and a small plate or two. Drinks-wise, the spicy paloma ($15), with smoky mezcal, grapefruit juice, crushed red pepper, and a ginger-tahini salted rim, is an exceptional accompaniment to the empanadillas (above; $14), a plate of snack-sized empanadas with fillings that change from day to day. (Mine were stuffed with chorizo and cheese, a basic-sounding combination that tasted anything but.) Planning a splurge meal to kick off or wrap up your trip? This is the place to go big.
219 Calle Canals, San Juan; 787.725.1611; josesantaella.com.

4. Verde Mesa

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In the heart of Old San Juan (one of our 51 Affordable Discoveries for 2019!), this small restaurant features pressed-tin ceilings, eye-catching mason-jar light fixtures, a hodgepodge of vintage furniture, friendly service, and superb Mediterranean-Caribbean fusion cuisine. Vegetarian-friendly dishes are a rarity on the island, but here they’re more than just an afterthought—case in point, a refreshing ceviche-style chayote salad spiked with mango, lime, and cilantro; a hearty pumpkin and barley porridge with kale, pecorino, and roasted eggplant; and a vegetable-laced mound of rice, a signature dish. On the meatier side, the Moroccan-spiced lamb stew is a stand-out, bones and all, but the real winner is the octopus appetizer ($18), a pile of perfectly charred tentacles showered with pea shoots and served on a bed of smoky piquillo-pepper puree. They don't take reservations and there's usually a wait, but you won’t regret putting in the time.
107 Calle Tetuan, San Juan; 787.390.4662; facebook.com/verdemesa.

5. La Bombonera

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This circa-1902 Old San Juan bakery and café teases passersby with a tempting window display of assorted pastries, but don’t succumb—at least not ‘til later. You’re here for one singular sandwich: the Mallorca, a sweet roll layered with your choice of fillings, pressed until the edges are warm and crisp, and dusted with a heap of powdered sugar. You can have it with simple accompaniments like butter or chocolate, but I can never turn down a savory-sweet combination and chose the egg, ham, and Swiss ($7). The yolk was still soft, the cheese wasn’t quite melted, and the rich, salty filling just about stood up to the sugary roll. But it was the hot sauce that brought things into balance. I would’ve paid the fees to check a bag so I could bring home a bottle of the tangy, garlicky, house-made concoction, and I am an avid never-checker. Order a cortado ($3), a strong little cup of coffee with a touch of milk, to go with your sandwich, and pick up a few of those pastries on your way out, too.

259 Calle San Francisco, San Juan; 787.705.3370; facebook.com/labombonerasanjuan.

6. Kiosko El Boricua

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For a taste of real-deal Puerto Rican snack food, jump in the car (or grab an Uber) and head out of town. Some 10 miles east of Old San Juan on the island’s north shore, the Piñones area boasts an array of roadside kiosks hawking local bites against a backdrop of postcard-perfect beaches. There’s always a line at Kiosko El Boricua, and for good reason: Everything's made to order, and it's all delicious. Try the pastelillos (turnovers with a shatteringly crisp exterior and a thin, soft layer of dough underneath) with crab (above; $5), the alcapurrias (fritters made from taro root and green plantains) with salt cod ($3.50), or the piononos (stuffed sweet plantains that are often rolled around the filling, but here it's more like a plantain sandwich) with beef ($4.50). The seafood tacos are also great, but this is where I should note that Puerto Rican tacos and Mexican tacos are not the same thing—the Puerto Rican version is yet another a deep-fried turnover-style snack, so don’t go in expecting a soft corn or flour tortilla. Come hungry, spring for a cheap beer to wash it down, and carry your haul across the street to tuck in on the sand.
PR-187 km 8.0, Bo Torrecilla Baja, Loíza; 787.596.1684; facebook.com/kioskoelboricua.

7. Chocobar Cortés

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A fourth-generation chocolate-making operation dating to 1929, Chocolate Cortés originated in the Dominican Republic before expanding production to the founder’s native Puerto Rico, and today, the bean-to-bar company’s locally and sustainably grown cacao varieties are starting to earn worldwide recognition. You can taste the goods at Chocobar Cortés, a cocoa-focused café in Old San Juan. Visit at brunch for sweet dishes like chocolate pancakes and French toast, or try the equally tasty, if a bit unconventional, savory preparations: roasted pumpkin soup with a white chocolate and wasabi crostini, perhaps, or a crispy chicken roulade with blood sausage and caramelized chocolate tomato sauce. My friend and I stopped by just after sunset and opted for pre-dinner drinks, a chocolate martini ($12) laced with Baileys for her, and a frozen mocha hot chocolate ($5) with whipped cream and chocolate nibs for me. Both were luscious and refreshing, and the quality of the chocolate was unmistakable. Ground chocolate is for sale, so yes, you can try this all at home.
210 Calle San Francisco, San Juan; 787.722.0499; chocobarcortes.com.

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Budget Travel Lists

10 National Historic Landmarks You Won't Believe Are Actually Landmarks

Of the 90,000-some sites on the National Register of Historic Places, a list determined by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, only about 2,500 are deemed to have enough historical and cultural significance to be recognized as National Historic Landmarks. Churches, forts, historic homes, banks, bridges, and even boats are a dime a dozen. Lesser known, however, are the mining sites, landfills, and zany statues. Here are a few of the more unlikely sites that have had an impact on our culture and influenced who we are as Americans. 1. Lynch Knife River Flint Quarry: Stanton, North Dakota Several thousands of years before North Dakota’s oil mines triggered a Gold Rush-style blitz of industry, the Plains Indians in the area were mining flint, a resource so valuable to them that archaeologists insist that you can’t talk about the native culture without mentioning it. They mined over 150,000 pounds of the stuff to make arrowheads and other tools. One of the biggest quarries, the Lynch Quarry site, which spans over 690 acres, has, thanks to the efforts of local landowners, staved off development and infiltration by coal companies. It’s remained intact to the point that the anvils used to sharpen arrows and such are still there. Arguably the nation's most overlooked natural resource, it became a landmark in 2012. 2. Peavy-Hagline Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator: St. Lewis Park, Minnesota (McGhiever/Wikimedia Commons) Before there were skyscrapers and Space Needles or, for that matter, telephone poles, there were grain elevators. The Peavy-Hagline Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator, a rural tower that stretches 125 feet into the air, is the first of its kind in the United States and, it’s presumed, the world. Before it was built in 1900, elevators were made of wood, but this one was an architectural marvel of its time. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, it served as a model for future concrete structures built around the United States, satisfying the builders’ intention to prove that concrete could indeed be used in elevator construction. French architect LeCorbusier praised it as "the magnificent First Fruits of the new age." 3. Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill: Fresno, California For the most part, we take garbage pickup for granted these days: You put it out on your curb and it disappears. But regional sanitation systems are part of a tremendous, complex industry, and it’s come a long, long way as cities have expanded and developed. The Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill is ground zero for innovation in the sanitation industry. The creators of the landfill, which operated from 1935 to 1989, at which point it spanned 145 acres, are known for pioneering trenching, compacting, and daily burial techniques to tamp down on rodent issues and other problems. Urban problem-solving at its finest. 4. Lucy the Elephant: Margate City, New Jersey (Mary Katherine Wynn/Dreamstime) Dumbo notwithstanding, Lucy, located five miles from Atlantic City, is easily the most famous elephant in the United States. The six-story, nine-ton quadruped, originally made of wood and tin sheeting (she was buttressed with steel in 1970), has appeared in movies, television dramas, comic strips, various History Channel and Travel Channel specials, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and more. She's been a restaurant, offices, and a tavern. And as a testament to her endurance, she was virtually unscathed during Hurricane Sandy. Tourists visit her to climb the spiral staircase inside her to a hodwah on her back that delivers 360-degree views of the Jersey Shore. The National Park Service, which declared her a landmark in 1976, notes her as being a prime example of novelty architecture, an oversize structure designed in an unorthodox shape. 5. Howard High School: Wilmington, Delaware In 2005, when Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware, became a National Historic Landmark, then state senator Joe Biden said in a statement, “The selection of Howard High School as a historic landmark is fitting because it encompasses both the struggles of our past and the promise of our future. Our hope is that this recognition will serve as a very visible and powerful reminder of just how far we have come and how much further we must still go." The school played a critical role in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared it unconstitutional to segregate public schools. (The Brown case was actually a combination of five cases, including one that contested black students be bused to Howard, a black school, when a white high school was closer to their home.) Students here learn history not just from the books, but from their everyday surrounds. 6. American Flag Raising Site: Sitka, Alaska (Sphraner/Dreamstime) Really? A flagpole? Rest assured, it’s not just any old flagpole. The flagpole that marks Castle Hill, which was later renamed Baranof Castle State Historic Site, is where, in 1867, the Russians relinquished Alaska to the United States and, soon after, where the 49-star American flag was raised to commemorate Alaska’s new statehood for the first time. The pole is perched on a rock ridge that’s nearly 60 feet in the air, a prime perch for observing Sitka's gorgeous and historic cityscape. 7. Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1: Arco, Idaho Idaho is one of the 11 states that Lewis and Clark crossed during their epic expedition from 1804 to 1806, so, accordingly, the landscape is dotted with an assortment of landmarks marking their path. But there is one among them that has nothing to do with that dynamic duo: Declared a landmark in 1965, you might say the Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 is where nuclear energy was born. The desert-situated decommissioned reactor was the world’s first nuclear power plant to generate electricity when, in 1951, it illuminated four 200-watt bulbs. This relic of the past is commemorated as a harbinger of the atomic-energy-driven future. 8. Fireproof Building: Charleston, South Carolina Many buildings are declared landmarks because they're where a historical person lived or died, a monumental event happened, or a company set up its manufacturing operation. There are loads of landmark banks, courts, jails, hotels, and churches. But only the grand Greek Revival-style County Records Building in Charleston carried the superlative classification of most fire-protected building when it was built in 1829, making it oldest fire-resistant building in all the land today. The structure is solid masonry and stucco, with iron shutters on triple windows, which allowed for more light, which meant less need for candles. These and other architectural features made it so sound that it survived the 1886 earthquake. In recent decades, it housed the South Carolina Historical Society, which renovated the building and opened it as a museum last summer. 9. Davis-Ferris Organ: Round Lake, New York (Courtesy Grace Mayo/Wikimedia Commons) The stately, massive Davis-Ferris Organ was built in 1847 for $2,500 and sat in Manhattan’s Calvary Episcopal Church until 1888, when it was purchased by a Methodist camp for $1,500 and moved to a town auditorium in Round Lake, a village in upstate New York that has been on the National Register of Historic Places itself since 1975. The instrument features pipes wide enough for a small child to crawl through, earned the approval of the National Parks Service in 2016. It’s said to be the oldest and largest organ of its type. (For any organ aficionados out there, that’s a three-manual organ, to be specific.) 10. Baltusrol Golf Club: Springfield, New Jersey A.W. 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Road TripsBudget Travel Lists

5 Perfect U.S. Road Trips

Fire up your GPS and start your engines! Every corner of the U.S. delivers amazing road trip opportunities, from parkland to scenic byways to vibrant towns and cities along the way. Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite epic drives from sea to shining sea. Your only remaining challenge is to pick your favorite trip and hit the road. BEST OF THE WEST: CALIFORNIA’S HIGHWAY 1 (Jonas Weinitschke/Dreamstime) Pick any stretch of Highway 1 along the California coast and you’ll be treated to epic views and great stops along the way. But perhaps the most iconic portion of the route is the drive between the San Francisco Bay Area and San Simeon. While the drive can be accomplished in just a few hours, we recommend you plan affordable stops along the way: A motel stay in Santa Cruz, at the top of Monterey puts you walking distance to the beautiful beach and fun-for-the-entire-family boardwalk. A day or two in the city of Monterey gives you time to explore the coastal walking trail with its jaw-dropping views of the gorgeous blue waters of the bay and playful sea otters, a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and several world-class meals of fresh crab, sourdough bread, and other California favorites. Continue down Highway 1 for the star attraction, the winding drive along the cliffs of Big Sur, towering over the Pacific, and stop at Pfeiffer State Beach or a walk in the mountains just to the east of the highway. Your Highway 1 road trip can end at San Simeon, home to the incredible estate built by William Randolph Hearst with its truly amazing art collection and grounds. Or keep driving south for the delights of coastal communities such as San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and the renowned beaches and cities of Southern California! ROAD TRIP TIP: Before leaving home, make sure you have the appropriate auto insurance policy for your vehicle and needs. A visit to Geico.com can help you understand your options and potential savings. SOUTHERN CHARM: BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY You don’t have to choose between a big-city culture and the natural beauty of a national park. The Blue Ridge Parkway allows road trippers to enjoy Washington, D.C., with its free museums, historical sites, and cultural offerings, then head to Virginia’s Skyline Drive along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which turns into the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of FDR’s New Deal projects, linking Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee. The parkway’s hairpin turns and epic tunnels will delight every family member, and a manageable, affordable national park experience is unforgettable, with ranger-led walks and talks, serene hiking trails, and the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife, including black bears, from a safe distance. More adventurous travelers may want to try rock climbing and whitewater rafting (with guidance from a local outfitter). Cool towns such as Asheville, NC, deliver tasty Southern cuisine, and you can balance the great outdoors experience of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with fun family-friendly activities in Gatlinburg, TN. While camping is always the most affordable way to visit a national park, reasonable lodging is available a short drive from both Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. ROAD TRIP TIP: Get your car inspected before embarking on your drive. Proper tire pressure and engine tune-up can save you money on gas mileage, and having up-to-date safety and security devices may even reduce your auto insurance rates. MIDWEST SPLENDOR: DOOR COUNTY, WISCONSIN Can you keep a secret? Door County’s Coastal Byway, a Wisconsin Scenic Byway, delivers an amazing, lesser-known Midwestern vacation experience that keeps families coming back year after year. Stretching over 66 miles around the Door Peninsula (nicknamed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”), this scenic byway and the stops along the way add up to a relaxing and delicious getaway. Situated between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, the Door Peninsula can be explored in a weekend, or you can stretch out your experience (which we heartily recommend) over several days with stays in the region’s beautiful towns. Ephraim, on the shores of Eagle Harbor, boasts beaches and harbor views you may associate only with New England, and a stop at Wilson’s for ice cream is a must. Peninsula State Park is one of those “hidden gems” just waiting to be discovered, with acres of forest, shoreline, and camping facilities. You’ll find great food in the town of Sister Bay, and some pleasant opportunities for quiet family time on the eastern side of the peninsula in Bailey’s Harbor and Jacksonsport. ROAD TRIP TIP: Pack a cooler with fruits and veggies, whole grains, grab-and-go protein like cheese sticks, and plenty of water (when visiting a wilder space such as a national park, a gallon of water per passenger per day is recommended). SOUTHWESTERN PARKS: UTAH’S ‘MIGHTY FIVE’ (Ralf Broskvar/Dreamstime) Did you know that Utah packs five incredible national parks into one state? Whether you hit two, three, four, or all of the “Mighty Five” (Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands), a scenic drive into Utah’s wild spaces is perhaps the ultimate road trip experience. While your GPS may recommend major highways along the way, give yourself permission to explore Scenic Byways such as State Route 12, the 120-mile drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon, and return home with brag-worthy photographs you can’t snap on the Interstate. Once you enter one of Utah’s national parks, hiking will likely be the “main event,” and each park deserves at least a day or two, whether you take ranger-led walks or strike out on your own. Consider trying something new, like a guided horseback tour in Bryce Canyon, and remember that Bryce and Zion both offer exceptional public transportation to get you from site to site. Camping is an affordable way to bunk down in Utah’s parks, but be sure to reserve your spot several months in advance, especially if you’ll be visiting during the summer high season. ROAD TRIP TIP: Don’t count on GPS as your only source of driving directions, especially if you’re visiting a national park or other wild space. Pick up printed maps that cover your road trip and plan out each day’s driving in advance using both GPS and your map - you’ll thank us when your smartphone suddenly says, “No Service.” ULTIMATE NEW ENGLAND: VERMONT & WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS The Green Mountains of Vermont and the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts deliver one of the Northeast’s finest driving experiences, easily reachable from New York, Boston, and other cities. Start in Bennington, VT, where you’ll soon discover that a New England road trip can combine world-class art and culture with natural beauty right outside your car window. The Bennington Museum offers a permanent art collection plus exhibits devoted to contemporary work, and the Grandma Moses gallery lets visitors not only enjoy the work of the iconic American folk artist but also to recognize the nearby Green Mountains as the backdrop of many of her most iconic paintings. Outside Bennington there are ample opportunities for canoeing, hiking, and chowing down on comfort food (and, yes, they serve classic New England clam chowder even as far inland as Vermont). Head to Williamstown, MA, for another incredible art collection, the Clark, and a truly charming small town experience with a vibrant downtown, great shopping, and more. Then it’s off to North Adams, MA, for the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the endless opportunities for exploring the nearby Berkshire Mountains. You can keep busy in western Massachusetts for days, and it’s also a relatively short drive to the beaches of Gloucester, the New Hampshire seacoast, and even the stretch of Maine near the New Hampshire border, but that’s a road trip for another day! ROAD TRIP TIP: No matter what time of year you’re taking your road trip, there are a few packing essentials: Sunscreen (yes, even in winter), sun-protective clothing, plenty of drinking water, layers of clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets), and comfortable walking or hiking shoes.

Budget Travel Lists

9 Beach Bars You Need Right Now

There are few things better than relaxing on a beach with a cocktail in hand, especially when the weather at home sinks below freezing. From party-forward day-drinking bars to hole-in-the-wall classics, let these nine amazing beach bars across the U.S., Mexico, and Caribbean serve as you bucket list for the whole of 2019. Now, what are you waiting for? Cheers! 1. TnT: Los Cabos, Mexico Tucked inside the ritzy Chileno Bay Resort & Residences sits the seaside cantina, TnT. They offer a selection of Mexican street-style tacos, and you can’t go wrong with the camarón, deep-fried shrimp doused in chipotle mayo, jicama and cilantro. Then dive into the real treat on the menu—premium tequilas, mezcals, and raicilla, a lesser known but no less terrific agave spirit. Don’t leave without sampling the Sonora Commercial, made with aged tequila, eucalyptus syrup, lime, and Mexican Tepache, a fermented beverage made from the peel and the rind of pineapples. Try to plan your visit after sunset, when the fire pits are lit and guests can sip under the stars. Reservations required a day in advance. (aubergeresorts.com/chilenobay) 2. The Rusty Nail: Cape May, New Jersey Blue and orange umbrellas dot outdoor boardwalk planks in front of what was once regarded as “the longest bar in all of Cape May.” The Rusty Nail, the Jersey Shore’s iconic surfer bar, has been well known along the Eastern Seaboard since the 1970s. A seaside haunt open May through December, it features an outdoor fire pit in the warm weather months and indoor fireplaces once the air chills. Order a cone of fried shrimp and wash it down with an Orange Crush, a classic Garden State beach cocktail made with Absolut Mandrin, orange, triple sec, and lemon-lime soda. If you’re on vacation with the family, this is an ideal spot to for the whole crew. The Nail is open to young, old, and the four-legged, complete with a full doggy menu. (caperesorts.com/restaurants/capemay/rustynail) 3. Mai Tai Bar: Honolulu, Hawaii Mad Men fans will immediately recognize the Royal Hawaiian, the iconic pink hotel where Don and Megan Draper honeymooned in the heart of Waikiki Beach, Oahu. Explore the basement of the property, an ode to the hotel’s decorated past, then head to the Mai Tai Bar. The hotel’s beach-side enclave, speckled with umbrellas and pink chairs, is known across the island for its variety of mai tais. Order the 96 Degrees in the Shade to cool down. A frozen mai tai with Captain Morgan, fresh pineapple-passionfruit purée, lime juice, orgeat, and mint, it's topped with a generous dark-rum floater. (royal-hawaiian.com/dining/mai-tai-bar) 4. Rick’s Cafe: Negril, Jamaica Rick’s Café, perched atop a 35-foot cliff on the west end of Negril, is known as the island’s best spot for watching the sunset. Patrons arriving at this vibrant multi-level watering hole before dusk are treated to another phenomenon: cliff diving. As island music plays, a soundtrack often provided by the in-house reggae band, locals and tourists alike head behind the bar to tiered jumping points of varying heights for a serious adrenaline rush. Not into cliff jumping? No problem. Order a rum punch and kick back at an indoor or outdoor table. If the plan is to see the sunset, arrive no later than 4PM, as seats fill up fast. And don’t forget a camera for an Instagram-worthy snap. (rickscafejamaica.com) 5. Navy Beach: Montauk, New York White picnic tables and navy blue umbrellas mark Navy Beach, a waterfront wonder set on a 200-foot private beach in Montauk, one of many seaside communities tucked within the Hamptons, New York’s coastal getaway. A casual bar and eatery, guests arrive by both land and sea. (There’s a dock for boaters to tie up on Fort Pond Bay.) Once inside, be sure to try out the classic Dark & Stormy, a blend of Gosling’s rum, ginger beer, and bitters. If you’re with an entourage, opt for a pitcher of Navy Grog, rum mixed with grapefruit, orange, and pineapple juices. When hunger strikes, order the buttermilk fried chicken with a side of truffled mac. And don’t be surprised when you see an added charge on your tab—from May to September, a donation of $1 is added to each check in support of the Navy SEAL Foundation. Helping out never tasted so good. (navybeach.com) 6. Flora-Bama: Perdido Key, Florida Flora-Bama, the self-proclaimed most famous beach bar in the country, gets its name from its unique coordinates straddling the Florida-Alabama state line. A landmark in the Gulf Shores community, this energetic watering hole offers live entertainment 365 days a year, with events that range from chili cook-offs and fishing rodeos to the Annual Mullet Toss and beachfront concerts. Flora-Bama is best known for its Bushwhacker, a milkshake-like concoction from a secret recipe involving five different types of liquor. The likes of Kenny Chesney have paid homage to the bar with lyrics like “I'm in the redneck riviera, It's getting crazy, getting hammered, sitting right here at the Flora-Bama.” (florabama.com) 7. Soggy Dollar Bar: Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands Accessible only by boat, the Soggy Dollar Bar has been serving its famous Painkiller cocktail on Jost Van Dyke since the 1970s. Made with a top-secret recipe of dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple, and orange juice and topped with freshly grated nutmeg from Grenada, the potent drink makes the trek to this salty saloon worth the effort. Devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Irma, Soggy Dollar’s owner and employees worked diligently to re-open in early 2018 for its rum-loving fans—and potential fans. Have a friend stopping by without you? The bar is famous for their “Drink Board,” an opportunity to buy a drink ahead of time for someone visiting. (soggydollar.com) 8. Pelican Brewing Company: Pacific City, Oregon A love of beer and the ocean brought Pelican Brewing company to life in 1996 on Cape Kiwanda, situated about 100 miles west of Portland in coastal Pacific City. Today it’s the only beachfront brewpub in the Pacific Northwest. Head straight for the bar and order a Kiwanda, a pre-Prohibition cream ale inspired by one of America’s 19th-century beer styles, marked by a floral aroma and clean finish. Pelican Brewing Company offers seven year-round beers, as well as seasonal specials and a small-batch series called Lone Pelican. For those that can't make the trip, a live brewery webcam allows for an instant beach-bar fantasy get-away. (pelicanbrewing.com) 9. Clayton’s Beach Bar: South Padre Island, Texas Everything's bigger in Texas, and the beach bars are no exception. To wit: Clayton’s Beach Bar. With a capacity for 5,000 guests, the venue features touring acts like Billy Currington and Nelly, and each March, it plays host to the largest free spring-break stage in Texas. Known for its frozen margaritas and Turbo Piña Coladas, this popular beachside bar is a partying hotspot and treats patrons to fireworks on the weekend. Whether heading to Clayton’s with friends or the kids (it’s family-friendly), be sure to have a designated driver or an Uber on speed dial—the bartenders are notoriously heavy handed. (claytonsbeachbar.com)

Budget Travel Lists

America's Best Beer Destinations, Ranked.

The craft beer revolution has been brewing for years. Throughout the U.S. independent breweries have been opening at an astonishing clip. As of this moment, there are more than 7,000 craft breweries, an exponential growth from the 1,511 that were active in 2007. Big beer has taken notice and started buying smaller operations. AB-InBev, owners of titans like Budweiser and Michelob, purchased Blue Point Brewing on Long Island for $24 million. MillerCoors, which owns the monoliths Miller and Coors, purchased a large stake in popular Terrapin Brewing Company in 2016. Anchor Brewing, the oldest craft brewery, which dates back to the 1890s, was sold to Sapporo, Japan’s fourth-largest beer brand, in 2017. The list goes on. Numbers Don't Lie A study released this month spells out just how much this already huge industry is growing and the economic impact in each state. Using research provided by the Brewers Association, C + R Research crunched the numbers to come up with a detailed map of how much who is producing in which states. The way we see it, the conclusions make an excellent guide for beer-lovers who are hitting the road. The state with the highest production isn’t where you might think. Sure, California’s coast is lined with breweries and Colorado has been a state that gets lots of attention for its breweries’ often being ahead of trend. Colorado is also the gathering point each fall for the Great American Beer Festival, which draws enthusiasts who come by the thousands to taste from hundreds of American beers. But it’s the quiet, modest state of Vermont that makes more beer per capita than anywhere else. There are 11.5 breweries per capita producing the equivalent of 151.2 pints per drinking-age residentd. The second-place state might also come as a bit of a surprise, but the land known for Glacier National Park and Yellowstone apparently has plenty of gorgeous landscape for brewers to work their craft. Montana clocks in with 9.6 breweries per capita, a tie with Maine. Oregon and Colorado follow suit 8.5 and 8.4 breweries respectively. Alaska (6.8 breweries per capita), Washington (6.7), and Wyoming (5.7) pull up behind them. Plenty of Pints All Along Beer Trails Most breweries around the country have tours and tasting rooms, but it’s always wise to call ahead, as organized tours might take place on particular days or times. Also, when you’re visiting a city, check to see if there are brewery trails of some sort. Denver, Massachusetts, San Diego and plenty of other cities and states have information and maps for self-guided tours, while cities like Anchorage and Asheville offer tours where experts lead you to different venues to meet local brewers and taste their wares.

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