UPDATED: March 2016! Today I got some insider San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips for you. Needing only to be 18+ to enjoy most of the nightlife, I was able to sample a great deal of hotels, casinos, and clubs before I went to college in the USA. Additionally, I have been going back every year. So I wondered…why the heck haven’t I written a post about them yet?!
**I’m referring to the San Juan metro area, including Isla Verde, Guaynabo, Río Piedras
Party hotel lobbies and casinos
Let’s be honest here: Everything about Puerto Rico is a party. You can find not only a party hotel, but also party lobbies. That’s right: even the locals flock into upscale hotel lobbies during the weekends for excellent free entertainment. Latin bands play live until the wee hours of the night (approximately 4 AM), with an accompanying bar serving until then.
Within the same hotels, there are also lively casinos, some which are open 24 hours a day! In there, the party atmosphere continues with great free drinks, food, and gambling that never sleeps. Below, my San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips + list of my favorite party hotel lobbies and casinos:
Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino: Party at the Ambassador Club Lounge; gamble at the 24-hour casino with 482 slot machines.
1369 Ashford Ave., San Juan 00907
La Concha Resort: Laid-back, yet ultra elegant atmosphere. Rub shoulders with the chic locals. Party is at the lobby as well. Great Latin band at the Ocean Lounge on Wednesday nights, by the way.
1077 Ashford Avenue, San Juan 00907
Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza: Rated among the Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in the Caribbean by Tripadvisor readers, the lobby is where it’s at. Usually best on Fridays, when the entire Condado strip is hot to party.
999 Ashford Avenue, San Juan 00907
Marriott San Juan Resort & Stellaris Casino: An all-time favorite of mine. I have partied at this lobby and gambled at this casino on several occasions. The live Latin bands and even DJs at the lobby are always great. Best San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips for this location: It is an older crowd, best for those over 25 (or anyone trying to avoid the youngsters in their late teens/early 20s). Party starts to sizzle on Wednesdays and Thursdays, depending on the season.
Ashford Ave, San Juan 00907
Old San Juan
Hotel El Convento: The number one hotel in San Juan in terms of charm and service. Ironic, yes–it used to be a convent! Good parties at the lobby on Wednesdays.
100 Cristo St, Old San Juan, San Juan 00901
La Factoria: chic bar in Old San Juan, with a nice selection of wines and specialty cocktails together by so-called expert “mixologists.” A little hipster for some people’s liking, but popular place among upscale locals. If you don’t like it here though, there’s something for everyone all along Calle San Sebastian! Both bars and great food.
Calle San Sebastián 148, Old San Juan, San Juan 00901
Isla Verde area
El San Juan Hotel & Casino: Ultra lavish hotel, beautiful grounds, even non-guests can venture to the beach on its backyard whilst partying. Not only are there great parties in the lobby, but also at the nearby nightclub (Brava) and even burlesque lounge (The Rose Club – call 787.565.7700 for showtimes). **Fridays and Saturdays are best for partying at the lobby, by the way. Brava usually has the best DJs on Saturday nights.
6063 Isla Verde Ave, Carolina 00979
Most of the hottest nightclubs in the island play Latin (salsa, merengue, bachata, and particularly reggaetón) and/or electronic music. The more upscale establishments will usually have two rooms or more– with at least 2 different DJs dedicated to these genres. Conversely, a select few offer metal, underground genres, and even poetry readings.
One of the best San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips I can give you, by the way? Even restaurants are turned into nightlife hotspots on my island 😀 Case in point:
Di Zucchero Restaurant & Lounge: Very busy on weekends, particularly after 12:30 AM. Better yet? Party goes on until 5 AM!
1210 Ashford Ave, Condado 00908
Brava (inside San Juan Hotel & Casino): Quite possibly, the classiest crowd in Puerto Rico. Also popular with tourists staying at the hotel. Most guests are in their 20s. Best parties usually take place on Saturday nights.
6063 Isla Verde Ave, Carolina 00979
The Rose Club (also inside El San Juan Hotel & Casino): As described on their website, this is “Puerto Rico’s First Cabaret Nightclub Venue featuring Miss Dakota’s Ran Can Can Burlesque Show.”
6063 Isla Verde Ave, Carolina 00979
Nuyorican Cafe: unbelievable salsa dancing is what you seek? This is your spot! Tucked away in historic Old San Juan, Nuyorican is popular with some of the best dancers in the island. Another personal favorite!
Calle San Francisco 312, Old San Juan 00901
La Respuesta: Self-described as “home to Puerto Rico’s underground artists,” you may come here to listen to local poetry or even metal bands. Great place to learn about the youth culture of the island. Many special events; official website updated frequently.
1600 Ave. Fernandez Juncos, esq. Calle Del Parque, Santurce
Sport bars and other watering holes
Great cover bands and too-good-to-be-true drink specials characterize the sport pub and dive bar scene in San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife. Then it is a really big party when an important boxing fight takes place or if the Puerto Rico basketball team is playing in an important championship abroad. If you want to party with the locals like very few do, you must come down here on a boxing weekend! Below, a list of my favorites:
Shanna’s Pub: Irish bar, extremely popular with the locals. Goes crazy on boxing match nights and any given Friday or Saturday. Also very busy on Wednesdays, so be there before midnight.
On marginal of Martínez Nadal Expressway, corner of Esmeralda Avenue, Guaynabo
Stop and Go: this is where you pregame, no exceptions! Unbelievable, unheard of prices for the Condado strip. Some great examples? A bucket of 6-7 Coronita beers for $7; large Heineken bottle for $3. Essentially a semi-open dive bar, with a few slot machines, that also sells Puerto Rican fried foods. Popular with the locals, naturally.
1214 Ashford Avenue, Condado 00907
Small Bar: Crowded, tiny hot spot–yet relatively relaxed for Condado. Great artisan beers, great food, good prices. You can even drink outside 😉 love it! Open late as well, usually beyond 4 AM.
1106 Ave. Dr. Ashford (Across La Concha, between Mhan Chung & El Balcón), Condado 00907
La Placita: the hidden gem of my San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips for tourists. La Placita is not just an establishment, but an entire plaza full of popular bars. College kids attending the state university and even young professionals alike flock here on Wednesdays and weekends. Some of the cheapest drinks in town!
Parada 18, between Ponce de Leon and Baldorioty de Castro, San Juan
Got additional San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips? Share them below!
**Special thanks to Stella Rodgz for being the major contributor of this San Juan Puerto Rico nightlife tips post!