25 Best Things To Do In Ponce, Puerto Rico (2022)

Ponce is a city in Puerto Rico located on the southern coast.

Ponce is also known as La Perla del Sur, and La Ciudad Señorial. It is the second-most populated city on the island, only after the capital San Juan

I grew up in Peñuelas, a small city west of Ponce. Visiting Ponce’s colonial center, historical landmarks and museums was part of my childhood. 

In this article, I will cover the 25 best things to do in Ponce, Puerto Rico:

 

1. Ponce Art Museum

The Ponce Art Museum is a must-stop when visiting the city. 

image of Museo de Arte
The Ponce Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Caribbean and is home to more than 4,500 works of art.

It is the most prestigious museum in Puerto Rico and one of the most recognized in the Caribbean. 

It is home to the Flaming June, a famous Victorian painting, and a permanent collection of 4,500 pieces. 

Check out Museo de Arte de Ponce in the following video:

Note: Check the Ponce Art Museum’s website when planning your trip as this destination is subject to closing for renovations. 

 

2. Plaza Las Delicias

Visiting Ponce’s main square is one of the most fun things to do in Ponce.

image of Plaza Las Delicias
Dating back to 1670, the Plaza Las Delicias is home to the historic Ponce Cathedral and the Parque de Bombas.

Located in the middle of the historic center, you’ll find historic sites, museums, hotels, a casino, restaurants, and local shops.

Its beautiful colonial architecture, gardens, and fountains will captivate you. 

At night, you can visit one of the many bars and nightclubs surrounding the square. 

Check out Plaza Las Delicias in the following video:

 

3. Parque de Bombas

Located in the historic city center, this was Puerto Rico’s first fire station and now it’s Ponce’s most visited and recognized landmark. 

image of Parque De Bombas
Puerto Rico’s first fire station is one of Ponce’s most photographed destinations.

Painted with bold red and black stripes, the building makes for a great photo. 

It is home to a firefighter-themed museum and the local tourist information center. 

 

4. Cruceta El Vigía

Enjoy a panoramic view of Puerto Rico’s south coast at Cruceta El Vigía.

image of Cruceta El Vigía
Cruceta El Vigía is a 100 ft. tall cross that allows visitors to overlook the Caribbean Sea.

This 100 ft. tall cross has an observation deck overlooking the Caribbean Sea that can be accessed by a glass elevator. 

It also offers aerial views of other nearby landmarks. There’s a new restaurant on the first level with impressive views. 

 

5. Castillo Serrallés

Perched on a hill with impressive views, this historic Spanish Revival 1930s mansion is worth a visit.

image of Museo Castillo Serrallés
Museo Castillo Serrallés was built in the 1930’s and is a must visit destination in Ponce.

The former estate of the Serrallés family, creators of the Don Q distillery, host a museum and beautiful gardens overlooking the city. 

You might catch a bride or a quinceañera since the castle is frequently booked for events.

Check out Castillo Serrallés in the following video:

You can book a tour on Castillo Serrallés’ website. 

 

6. La Guancha boardwalk

La Guancha is a perfect spot for families.

It has multiple restaurants, bars, a beachfront boardwalk, beach access, several playgrounds for kids, and live entertainment. 

image of La Guancha Boardwalk
La Guancha Boardwalk is the perfect spot to bring your family for a night of fun and great food.

You’ll catch beautiful sunsets from the boardwalk and don’t forget to feed the pelicans with sardines. 

Note: Due to Hurricane María, the boardwalk was destroyed. La Guancha is partially operating.

 

7. Caja de Muertos

For those with an adventurous spirit, a day trip to the island of Caja de Muertos will not disappoint. 

Caja de Muertos got its name from its coffin shape. 

image of Isla Caja De Muertos
Charter a boat to Caja De Muertos and have an entire island almost to yourself.

It’s a natural reserve known for its pristine beaches, beautiful reefs, dry forest, and turtle nests.

Visits by tour operators have not been reactivated after the hurricanes and earthquakes, so renting a boat charter is the best option. 

Check out Caja de Muertos Island in the following video:

 

8. Hacienda Buena Vista

Coffee lover?

Then you should visit Hacienda Buena Vista.

image of Hacienda Buena Vista
Hacienda Buena Vista is a historic coffee plantation that is open to visitors year round.

This 19th Century’s Plantation is one of the most important coffee plantations in Puerto Rico. 

You’ll explore the impressive natural areas surrounding the Hacienda and learn about ancient methods of coffee production. 

Check out Hacienda Buena Vista in the following video:

Dates and tours are limited, so you have to schedule your visit in advance.

 

9. Catedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

With a history of more than 300 years, the Cathedral of our Lady of Guadalupe is an important part of Ponce’s culture. 

image of Catedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Catedral Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, located in the center of Ponce, is part of the National Register of Historic Places. 

The cathedral, which combines French neoclassical, colonial and Gothic architecture, is part of the National Register of Historic Places. 

Besides its magnificent architecture, you’ll also find stained glass art, statues, and a gorgeous pipe organ.

It’s located in the middle of Plaza Las Delicias just behind the Parque de Bombas. 

 

10. Try a local brewery 

For those craft beer fans, Papa Rupe Brewing is a must. 

This brewery will take you to the late 1800s. 

It’s located in a historic house that belonged to Thomas Armstrong Toro, one of the most important figures in the formation of Ponce’s Golden Age. 

It also offers an innovative gastronomic experience with a beer-based food menu, 20 beers on tap, and a loving culture for history and arts. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Papa Rupe Brewing Co. (@paparupebrewingco)

Photo Credit: @paparupebrewingco

 

11. Don Q Rum experience

Are you a rum aficionado? 

Learn about the history of Don Q Rum and its elaboration process and participate in a mixology class where you’ll create your own cocktail. 

The tour also offers a virtual reality experience while enjoying Ponce’s breathtaking views.

The tour is offered in English and Spanish and it lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Don Q Rum (@donqrum)

Photo Credit: @donqrum

To book this tour, visit the Don Q Rum website.

 

12. Day trip to Guánica

Just 35 minutes away from Ponce you’ll find Guánica, a paradise with pristine beaches and ecological diversity.

image of Guánica
Guánica is home to the largest dry forest in the world, and is only 35 minutes from Ponce.

You’ll be amazed by Guánica’s Dry Forest, the largest of its kind in the world. 

You can also visit one of the beaches at La Jungla, Playa Santa, Caña Gorda, Tamarindo or Ballena. 

If you’re in the mood for amazing pictures and selfies, you should visit Guánica’s Sunflowers plantation. 

Check out Guánica in the following video:

 

13. Plaza del Caribe Mall

Attention shopaholics!

Plaza del Caribe is the largest shopping center in the south region with a variety of local and international shops.

You’ll find more than 110 stores including Macy’s, Zara, and Victoria’s Secret, a variety of restaurants, and a 10-screen movie theater, among other establishments. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Plaza Del Caribe (@plazadelcaribe)

Photo Credit: @plazadelcaribe

 

14. Parque Lineal de Ponce

Ponce’s Parque Lineal offers athletes the space necessary to run their bikes, walk or jog while enjoying nature. 

With a length of 12.7 km or 7.89 miles, the park offers beautiful views while connecting with other parks, the beach, and even the Ponce Hilton Hotel.

Check out Parque Lineal de Ponce in the following video:

 

15. Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden is the perfect spot to sit back and relax. 

Even though it’s small, you won’t want to miss it. It’s filled with koi ponds, pagodas, gardens, bonsais, and lotus flowers.

It’s located just across Castillo Serrallés and Cruceta El Vigia. 

Check out Japanese Garden in the following video:

 

16. Centro Ceremonial Indigena Tibes

If you want to learn about Puerto Rico’s ancient history, you need to visit Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center. 

This ancient Taino village is considered the oldest human settlement in Puerto Rico.

You’ll find a museum and open-air ceremonial sites that will take you back in time.

Check out Centro Ceremonial Indigena Tibes in the following video:

 

17. Try local ice cream

If you have a sweet tooth, then Kings Cream is a mandatory stop. 

Located in Plaza Las Delicias, right across Parque de Bombas, this little shop has been serving delicious ice creams since 1964. 

My favorite flavors are almond, chocolate, and passion fruit.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by king’s Cream Ponce (@kingscreamponce)

 Photo Credit: @kingscreamponce

 

18. Experience Ponce’s nightlife

Party lovers will fall in love with Ponce’s nightlife. 

The city is full of nice pubs, bars, and nightclubs for all styles of partygoers and budgets. 

If you want to have fun as a local, you should visit the bars at Plaza Las Delicias or Hostos Avenue.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by El 69 Chinchorro (@el69chinchorro)

 Photo Credit: @el69chinchorro

 

19. Explore local cuisine

From state-of-the-art restaurants to delicious food kiosks, Ponce offers diverse culinary options that cater to all types of foodies.

If you’re in the mood for an upscale experience, Lola Eclectic Cuisine, Mesa — Cocina & Vinatería, Baleares, El Negocio de Panchi, and El Rastro are to die for. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by El Rastro (@el.rastro.pr)

Photo Credit: @el.rastro.pr

Other great restaurants are Campioni Pizza Birra & Tapas, La Casa del Chef, and Rincón Argentino

If you want to try authentic “ponceño” food, you should try the domplines at El Trigal or go to La Guancha’s food kiosks.

 

20. Look for street art

Between the colonial-style buildings in the historic center, you’ll find impressive street art from local artists. 

Ponce was home to “Ponce es Ley”, a festival that aimed to convert Ponce’s streets into urban museums.  

There are over four dozen pieces decorating the walls of the historic center.  

Some of them are an expression of Puerto Rico’s political, social, and economic situation.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Ryan Mann-Hamilton (@antilleanroutes)

 Photo Credit: @antilleanroutes

 

21. Watch an open-air concert

Every Sunday, for over 125 years, the Ponce Municipal Band has been performing free open-air concerts. 

The concerts mostly take place in Plaza Las Delicias and are part of Ponce’s popular culture. 

The band usually delights the audience with classics of Puerto Rican music, as well as other international classics.

You’ll definitely have a blast. 

Here is a video of a band playing at Parque de Bombas:

 

22. Try your luck

If you want to try your luck, you can visit one of Ponce’s casinos. 

Ponce has three modern and large casinos with a range of table games and state-of-the-art slot machines. 

Whether you go to Hilton Ponce Casino, Tropical Casino, or Casino de la Plaza, you’ll have a great time. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Oceanfront Resort in Ponce (@poncehiltonpr)

Photo Credit: @poncehiltonpr

 

23. Climb Ponce’s letters

When you arrive in Ponce, you’ll be welcomed by five giant letters spelling the name of the city. 

image of Ponce’s Letters
Ponce’s letters are one of the areas most famous locations to snap a photo.

Even though they’re half the size of the Hollywood letters, those letters located near Ponce’s Mercedita Airport will make a great photo. 

Stop the car, walk, and climb the letters — even locals do it.

 

24. Visit a bioluminescent bay 

Puerto Rico is home to three impressive bioluminescent bays

Although these bio bays are not in Ponce, you’ll find La Parguera Bioluminescent Bay just 40 minutes away from the city.

image of 2 girls swimming in La Parguera Bioluminescence Bay
Swim in a bioluminescent bay in La Parguera, less than an hour away from Ponce.

This is the only bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico that allows tourists to swim with the glowing plankton.

Believe me, you’re not going to regret the visit.

You can learn more about Puerto Rico’s three bio bays by reading our article Bioluminescent Bays Puerto Rico – All You Need To Know.

 

25. Urban Ecological Park 

Spend time enjoying nature in Ponce’s Urban Ecological Park. 

It has various walking and cycling trails, outdoor exercise stations, and an amphitheater. 

You’ll also find a variety of plants and trees and lagoons. 

The park links with Parque Lineal. 

Check out Urban Ecological Park in the following video:

 

 

FAQ section

What are some things to do in Ponce at night?

You can start the night by having a delicious dinner in one of Ponce's many restaurants and then go bar hopping at the historic center, which is full of nice bars and pubs. You can also try your luck at one of Ponce’s casinos, which are open until late at night.

What are some free things to do in Ponce?

Ponce has a lot of free things to do. I would recommend visiting Plaza Las Delicias, Parque de Bombas, and the Cathedral, enjoying the street art, and if you are lucky and visiting a Sunday, watching the Ponce’s Municipal Band free concert.

 

Final thoughts

Ponce is the second largest city in Puerto Rico, and is worth visiting.

The city is great for tourists, and has lots of fun activities to experience.

My favourite things to do in Ponce are visiting the art museum and kayaking in the bioluminescent bay that is located just 40-minutes from the city.

If you are looking for other things to do, then check out our article 45 Best Things To Do in Puerto Rico.

Article by

Christian Ramos

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I am a full-time writer and public relations specialist with experience in tourism, gastronomy, and economics. I started my career as a lifestyle journalist for a publication with the highest readership in Puerto Rico. When I’m not writing, I am a part-time foodie, avid traveler, and coffee lover. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, meaning that I know how to live the Boricua experience! 

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