I spent the day in Ponce after reading about this city on the south coast of the island. It is a 2 hour drive from San Juan.
The highlight of Ponce is the Museo de Arte de Ponce, which is in a beautiful building designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1965. It reopened in 2010 after a renovation and new addition. The collection includes works of the Italian Baroque, Spanish Golden Age and British Pre-Raphaelite periods. I enjoyed some contemporary works by a Cuban artist and a temporary show, from the Prado in Madrid, with works by El Greco, Goya and Velazquez. There is a nice restaurant for fine dining overlooking the sculpture garden.
I enjoyed walking around the main square of Ponce. There is an attractive Cathedral of our Lady of Guadalupe, an old red and black firehouse from the 1880’s and a large fountain with many sculptures of lions. I loved the ice cream store, King’s Cream Helados, on the square and went twice!! The coconut is great!
Lunch was at Lola Eclectic Cuisine, right on the square, in the Ramada at Ave Mendez Vigo. It has an attractive contemporary decor. This is more upscale with very slow service but good food.
If you have time visit the Museo Castillo Serralles located on a hill overlooking the town. This is the home of the rum baron Castillo Serralles which was built in the 1930’s. You can see the period furniture and decorations. Perfect for decorative arts lovers.
Hacienda Buena Vista Coffee Plantation: I had never seen coffee growing so I loved touring this historic plantation where you can see how they lived and operated the plantation using water power. They do produce coffee which is harvested in October where visitors can see how it is processed. It is located in Barrio Magueyes on State Road 10, North of Ponce.