Overlooking view of Isla Verde Beach, one of the best things to do in Carolina

17 Best Things to Do in Carolina (By a Puerto Rico Local)

Located between San Juan and Loíza, some of the best things to do in Carolina, Puerto Rico include visiting beautiful beaches, top-notch restaurants, and nature reserves.

Carolina is home to the island’s main airport, so you’ll more than likely start your Puerto Rico vacation in this district. And while driving directly to Old San Juan is what most visitors do, there are plenty of fun things to do in Carolina.

I’m a Puerto Rico local who loves visiting Carolina, and in this post I’ll go through the very best attractions in Carolina. While you’re here, make sure to bookmark my guide to other popular places to visit in Puerto Rico.

Let’s dive in!

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17 Best Things to Do in Carolina

Carolina Beach

Enjoy a family beach day on a calm and clear beach

The author sitting on the sand of Carolina Beach

📍 Google Maps | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays during low season | Parking: $5 

Balneario de Carolina is one of the top attractions in Carolina. This beach has calm and clear waters with soft sand. It’s also just a few minutes away from the airport, so it’s possible to visit during a long layover.

The Carolina Public Beach has facilities like bathrooms, showers, gazebos, and a wide parking lot. Adventurers can rent watersports equipment right from the beach, such as kayaks and banana boats.

Isla Verde Avenue 

Explore a beachfront neighborhood with hotels, restaurants, and brand stores

Cars travelling on a street in Isla Verde Avenue
(photo: Michael Moloney / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Isla Verde Tour on Viator

Isla Verde is a beachfront neighborhood in Carolina where nightlife enthusiasts and beach buffs meet. Isla Verde is centrally located between San Juan and Loíza and is the place where most visitors stay during their Puerto Rico vacation.

Besides being home to great beaches like Carolina Beach, Isla Verde has popular party spots like Calle Loíza where you find international restaurants, bars, and clubs. 

👉Did you Know? Isla Verde is one of the best places to stay in Puerto Rico for people who want to stay both close to the airport and the beach. Browse hotels on Booking to find great hotel deals with outdoor pools, beachfront locations, and casinos.

Museo del Niño

Kids will love this interactive museum with go-karts and a minizoo

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 257-0261 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Fri-Sun only | Entrance: $10, adults, $6 under 14 plus additional attractions

El Museo del Niño is one of the top things to do in Carolina, Puerto Rico for kids. This popular Puerto Rico museum has multiple interactive exhibitions for kids of all ages with educational themes like physics, music, art, and transportation. 

Outside the main structure, kids will love exploring the airplane and experiencing a take-off simulation. But kids won’t be the only ones having fun at Museo del Niño, as parents can spend time at the go-kart track, feeding animals at the mini zoo, and taking a boat ride in the lagoon.

Hacienda Campo Rico

Ride ATVs, ziplines, or horses at this countryside hacienda

A man riding an ATV quad bike in Hacienda Campo Rico

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 523-2001 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: Depends on the tour | 👉 Browse Hacienda Campo Rico Tours on Viator

Hacienda Campo Rico is one of the top attractions in Carolina. This hidden green landscape inside the metropolitan city of Carolina offers adult ATV adventures, ziplines, and horseback rides.

If you want something more laid back, then you can also take a trolley tour through the hacienda – it’s a great way to learn about its history and surrounding nature. Connoisseurs can take a tour through the hacienda and end their day with a drink at the Mojito Bar.

👉 Pro Tip: Book your tour at Hacienda Campo Rico ahead of time through their website before visiting.

Piñones

Taste Puerto Rico’s best food through this ocean drive

View of local stores from Pinones in Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Book a Piñones Tour on Viator

Foodies can’t miss a stop at Piñones, the fritter capital of Puerto Rico. Piñones is an ocean drive between Carolina and Loíza with more than a dozen food stalls and restaurants. 

Regardless of which one you choose to visit, you will taste finger-licking fritters like alcapurrias, mofongo, and seafood. Besides great food, this neighborhood also has La Pocita (one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Rico), a beachfront boardwalk, and the Piñones Nature Reserve.

Calle Loíza

Go bar hopping at night at this popular street in San Juan

Dark sky above the Calle Loíza in Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps 

Calle Loíza is a street that starts in San Juan and ends in Carolina, and is one of the top spots to enjoy Puerto Rico’s nightlife. During the day, only a few restaurants are open and most locations look abandoned, but after 6 pm businesses open their doors to foodies and party lovers. 

You can easily spend all night hopping along Calle Loíza to all kinds of restaurants, bars, clubs, and food trucks. 

Pine Grove Beach

Catch waves on a beach close to the airport

A boy walking on the shoreline of Pine Grove Beach

📍 Google Maps 

Surfers don’t have to drive far from the airport to find a place to catch waves. Located between Alambique Beach and Carolina Public Beach, the east end of Pine Grove has a tide that isn’t great for swimming but is ideal for beginner surfers.

The beach conditions are also great for boogie boarding, paddle boarding, and snorkeling towards the west end of the beach. If you don’t have your surfboard on hand, then nearby businesses will rent you one or give you surfing lessons if you’re starting out. Pine Grove Beach is also pet friendly, so you can visit with your dog.

Alambique Beach

Walk from your hotel to this popular beach in Carolina

Overlooking view of Alambique Beach

📍 Google Maps 

Alambique Beach is the first beach you’ll find when driving east from Carolina toward Isla Verde. This beach is in front of dozens of resorts, hotels, and apartment buildings, so it’s the easiest to visit if you’re staying in Isla Verde. 

There aren’t any facilities on the beach, although you will find umbrella and chair rentals around. Alambique is also a popular beach for watersports and the surf is calmer than its Condado Beach neighbor.

📚 Related Reading: Is Puerto Rico Safe For Traveling?

La Pocita

Bathe in a natural pool formed by natural barriers

View of sand by the sea in Piñones

📍 Google Maps 

While not exactly in the city, La Pocita de Piñones is a family-friendly beach just a short drive from Carolina. La Pocita is a shallow pool formed by a barrier on the coast of Loíza. The beach has golden sand and is right across from Piñones food kiosks, where you can enjoy a local fritter while visiting. 

There aren’t any amenities on the beach, but you can use bathrooms at nearby kiosks if you buy some food.

Parque Infantil Aquasol

Beat the heat in this fun aquatic park

People enjoying their day in Parque Infantil Aquasol

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 633-3457 | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Sat-Sun | Entrance: $4 

Other than the beaches, another great option for kids to stay cool and refreshed in Carolina is Aquasol Park. Aquasol is an aquatic park with slides and fountains that pour water on kids while they play around. 

There are three Aquasol parks in Carolina, but the most popular one is in Carolina Public Beach. You can enter with your toddler and have fun yourself too!

Girasolero

Buy sunflowers and take beautiful pictures at this farm

Close up view of a sunflower in Puerto Rico

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 550-2706 | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Monday-Sat, Closed Sundays | Entrance: Free 

If you like flowers and animals, then Girasolero is a nice stop to make in Carolina. Girasolero is a plant nursery where you can admire and buy different species of flowers. This peaceful place features a sunflower field and different farm animals you can feed and play with. 

One of the best attractions is a cow named Jacob, who is popular with kids for taking pictures and petting.

Isla Verde Reserve

Explore a beautiful nature reserve outside Isla Verde Beach

A sea turtle swimming on the Isla Verde Reserve

📍 Google Maps 

Just outside Isla Verde Beach, you’ll find Isla Verde’s Nature Reserve, a site with beautiful reefs that shelter sea turtles, rays, and many fish. The reserve includes a small cay also called Isla Verde, a hidden gem for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts. 

While somewhat close to the shore, you can only visit the cay with a tour. Pine Grove Surf Club offers a snorkel boat tour to the cay but you can only book it by calling their phone number directly.

Parque Julia de Burgos

Spend a day outdoors in this green park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 513-3349 | Hours: 8 am – 6 pm Tues-Sat, Closed Sundays Mondays | Entrance: Free 

Parque Julia de Burgos is a recreational park with a 5-mile-long trail along the Blasila stream. The park offers an outdoor experience with lots of green areas and gazebos. But the most popular attraction in the park is the Aquasol Waterpark where kids can play among fountains and pools of water. 

Keep in mind the cost and the parking for visiting Aquasol are additional to the entrance of Julia de Burgos Park.

Carolina Cultural District

Tour the town’s museums and historical buildings

Aerial view of Carolina Cultural District
Aerial view of Carolina (photo: Michael Moloney / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Website 

Culture lovers can’t miss a stop at Carolina’s Cultural District, where you’ll find multiple museums with everything you need to know about Carolina. Some of the most popular museums in the district include Casa Escuté, Carolina’s History and Art Museum, and the Gallery of the Giants. 

You’ll also find interesting historical buildings like Antigua Casa Alcadía, a Spanish-revival style building constructed in 1930 that was once the center Carolina government. The San Fernando Church also is a historical church built between 1860-1870. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Carolina’s Cultural District, you can buy a combo ticket in any of the museums and save money on the entrances to the Cultural District attractions.

Vivo Beach Club

Go partying at this popular local club

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 748-5655 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 10 pm daily | Entrance: $5 parking + $80 for day pass 

Vivo Beach Club is a resort located right in Isla Verde Beach with pools, restaurants, and bars. This venue is also known for hosting popular concerts and for being a lively spot on the weekends. 

But the main attraction for many visitors is Ocean Lab Brewing Co., which is the perfect place to taste craft beer and good food with an ocean view.

👉 Pro Tip: Check out the Vivo Beach Club website to learn about upcoming concerts and activities.

Laguna La Torrecilla

Go Fishing at one of the lakes in Carolina

View of a man holding a big fish

📍 Google Maps 

If you’re a fishing enthusiast, then you can’t miss La Torrecilla Lagoon during your Puerto Rico vacation. Located between Carolina and Piñones, and right next to the airport, Laguna La Torrecilla is a rich body of water perfect for fishing tarpon, ladyfish, and snook. 

Multiple local companies offer boat tours, a half day tour, or adult full day sailing tours to the lagoon. You can also use different techniques and equipment for fishing depending on the tour you choose.

👉 Pro Tip: If you just want to take a quick trip around the lagoon with your family, then you can catch a boat tour at Museo del Niño.

El Yunque National Forest

Explore the only tropical rainforest in the United States

View from the Angelito Trail at El Yunque National Forest
Angelito Trail at El Yunque

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (787) 888-1880 | Website | Hours: 7:30 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $2 per car | 👉 Browse El Yunque National Forest Tours on Viator

If you want to go on a day trip from Carolina, then El Yunque should be first on your list. El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the United States Forest System and it offers lots of things to do for outdoor lovers and families like hiking trails, waterfalls, a rainforest zipline park, and even horseback riding. 

You can rent a car at the San Juan Airport to get to El Yunque, and the short drive takes less than 45 minutes. 

👉 Local Tip: If you’re visiting El Yunque, then take a beach tour to nearby Luquillo Beach. You’ll find the Luquillo Food Kiosks with some of the best foods in Puerto Rico in front of a picturesque beach. I also recommend driving along the east coast and taking a beach catamaran to Icacos, one of the best things to do in Fajardo.

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Thanks for reading about the best things to do in Carolina, Puerto Rico! This city next to Old San Juan has something for everyone, and you won’t be bored for a single moment during your visit. Check out these other fun things to do in Puerto Rico for more itinerary inspo.

Have fun in Carolina, Puerto Rico!

2 Comments

  1. Wonderful place to stay! I used to visit Isle Verde every year. I rented an apartment there every Feb & March at Marbella Oesta. The people there are beautiful and the food incredible! Wish I was young enough to still go. Have a fantastic time for the entire family.

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