the urbanist: san juan

Trapeze Lessons, Sketch Shows, and Other Things to Do When It Rains in San Juan

Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post via Getty Images

Hurricane season lasts from June through November in Puerto Rico; while an actual hurricane is the exception to the rule, there can be some very wet days during those months. But storms needn’t put a damper on your explorations of the city. In fact, they often push visitors into checking out overlooked options indoors. Here, locals share their favorite things to do when the clouds burst.

Suspend your body from a ceiling …
El Bastión is a new cultural center set within a gorgeous Spanish Colonial building that was once Ponce de Leon’s home. They have a variety of activities throughout the day that are open to visitors and locals alike on a walk-in basis. People can take classes in aerial trapeze, capoeira, ballet, dance, and circus classes for all ages. They will often feature live folkloric music and self-help workshops. There is always something going on there. It is also the new home of Circo Fest, a celebration of the circus arts like clowning, juggling, and acrobatics.” —Laura Daen, founder of Mercado Agricola Natural Viejo San Juan

Photo: Courtesy of Teatro Breve

See the Puerto Rican SNL 
“On a rainy night, or any night, go to Teatro Breve in Miramar. They are geniuses of comedy, a repertory group that puts out top-notch work on an almost daily basis. Their plays and sketches always feel current. They are hilarious, edgy, and offer an insider’s look into Puerto Rico today. You have to have a working understanding of Spanish to enjoy it, but they always deliver.” —Armando Riesco, actor in The Chi and writer/director of Seneca, currently shooting in Puerto Rico 

Photo: Courtesy of El Museo De Las Americas

Visit the Barracks …
El Ballajá is the former army barracks in a Spanish Colonial building that now houses the Museo de las Americas. It is a huge space on the second floor, with exhibits covering the history of the Americas, in terms of sociology, arts and crafts, and contemporary art shows. It’s always an interesting mix. At the first-floor café, Don Ruiz, you can enjoy a nice coffee; the view is uninterrupted — you can see the grassy area in front of El Morro, and then clear out to the Atlantic Ocean.” —Nick Quijano, artist

Go to the movies …
“Puerto Rican film is having a moment, with movies like Nuyorican Básquet, El Chata and ¿Quién Eres Tú?, all recently released with good reviews. There is always the Fine Arts Cinema, with one in Miramar and one in Hato Rey. They specialize in independent and international film but they also show a lot of local movies. Right now they are showing a new documentary, 1950. At night, my counterculture home away from home is El Local — it’s a live music venue, but on Mondays they have movies, usually a genre-specific double feature. There can be a horror night, a Stanley Kubrick night, a Star Wars night, a remake night where they have the original and the new one, a documentary night. There is also a new restaurant on Loiza Street called Dude’s Diner, and on Fridays, they roll down a projection screen for movies. In Old San Juan, Cinema Bar 1950 is great because they are very supportive of Puerto Rican directors. I, as well as other fellow filmmakers, held the premiere for one of my shorts there in 2015. It is located within El Ballajá in the Old City, and they have a restaurant so you can eat and drink while watching films, too.” —Michelle Malley Campos, writer, director, and filmmaker

Things to Do When It Rains in San Juan