San Juan is one of the most important cultural centres in the Caribbean, with a hectic programme of concerts, shows and festivals year-round. Casinos play a big part in the city’s tourist industry, while cinemas show all the US blockbusters as well as Spanish-language films.
Everything from classical music and theatre, to folk music, hip-hop concerts and cutting-edge performance art takes place in San Juan on a weekly basis. To get an idea of what’s happening, check the local newspapers or ask at the tourist office. There are numerous concert and performance venues in San Juan, but the one with the most character is Teatro Tapia on the south side of Plaza Colón in the old town. The Centro de Bellas Artes, on Avenida Ponce de León in Santurce, is a lavish, modern arts centre with three theatres and home of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra (wwww.sinfonicapr.gobierno.pr).
All the major hotels and resorts in San Juan have casinos, with flashing lights and vast swathes of Las Vegas-style slot machines. Note that many places don’t offer much more than this, however, and only the fancier hotels provide the full range of card games, roulette and the like. Top of the list is the 24-hour Ritz-Carlton Casino (t787/253-1700), inside the hotel in Isla Verde, with elegant 1940s decor, the largest floor in Puerto Rico and all the major games on offer. In Old San Juan make for the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel Casino on the waterfront (c/Brumbaugh 100; t787/721-5100, wwww.sheratonoldsanjuan.com), a welcoming place with similarly endless rows of slot machines and plenty of table games. Most casinos have a dress code for men (don’t wear shorts).