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Home > Interests & Activities > Nightlife > Live Music
For those who crave live music, Puerto Rico specializes in Latin beats and smooth Jazz. From intimate bars to chic hotel lobby lounges to casual open-air venues, you don’t have to venture far to find a rocking band playing to an appreciative crowd.
Puerto Rican music is addictive and Puerto Ricans love to dance, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself on the dance floor.
One of Old San Juan’s most hallowed live music venues, the Nuyorican Café has hosted outstanding local bands for decades. A small, tucked-away spot in an alleyway off San Francisco Street, you’ll often find this local institution buzzing with a hip crowd and bands playing everything from salsa to jazz to rock.
Da House Hotel
The Nuyorican is located next to (and owned by the same people as) Da House hotel, a budget-friendly, bohemian hotel with an artistic soul. If you like the vibe at the café, you’ll probably love staying at the hotel.
For a place with live bands all week long, the Nuyorican typically has only a nominal cover charge, and drinks (and pizza, if you get hungry), are cheap.
In addition to its terrific live bands, the Nuyorican hosts frequent performances, including theater and open mic nights. Check their calendar of events for more information.
The Latin Roots
A Puerto Rican restaurant with its own lechonera, The Latin Roots also boasts one of the largest dance floors of any restaurant in Old San Juan, and an ample stage where you’ll often find bands playing salsa.
The Latin Roots doesn’t only offer live salsa music throughout the week; it also invites you to come and take a free group salsa lesson that will teach you the basics.
A Busy Calendar
Check out the event calendar at the Latin Roots; there is something going on at this restaurant almost every night.
If you want to try lechón, or roast suckling pig, any Puerto Rican will tell you to head for the town of Guavate; for those who can’t make the trip, the lechón at The Latin Roots is a worthy and authentic substitute.
An elegant live music restaurant and lounge in Old San Juan, Carli’s combines a Caribbean and Italian menu with piano jazz. Come Tuesday to Saturday to hear Carli Muñoz tickle the keys, and on Friday and Saturday to catch Carli playing with contrabassist Alex Gasser.
Unless there’s a special act in town, Carli’s doesn’t charge a cover.
Jazz in the Bank
Carli’s is located off the main tourist thoroughfares in Old San Juan but is not hard to find. It’s located in the Banco Popular building at the corner of San Justo and Recinto Sur Streets.
In case you think the music is merely a complement to the meal, note that Carli Muñoz once played for the Beach Boys and has collaborated with several highly regarded jazz and pop groups. He’s also produced four solo albums.
Ventana al Jazz
A lovely free event at the Ventana al Mar (or “Window to the Sea”) park in Condado, Ventana al Jazz (“Window to Jazz”) takes place on the last Sunday of every month. Sponsored by Heineken, the event invites you to listen to outstanding music in an open-air setting overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a unique and enjoyable way to spend a Sunday night.
Puerto Rico and Jazz and Heineken
Heineken, jazz music and Puerto Rico have enjoyed a long and mutually rewarding partnership. The annual Heineken Jazzfest, which typically takes place in June, is one of the largest jazz festivals in the Caribbean.
The free concert ends early, leaving you with plenty of time to browse Condado’s boutiques or enjoy its find cuisine.
Ponce’s famed boardwalk, called La Guancha, is a broad seaside promenade that transforms into a social gathering spot during weekends that attracts plenty of live bands.
Hanging Out at La Guancha
In addition to the bands, a stroll on La Guancha also offers two other notable perks: free food and spectacular sunsets.
Ponce’s Party Central
In the charming town of Ponce, La Guancha is the social heartbeat of the city. However, the Ponce Hilton, which boasts a casino and bars, is also worth a visit for those looking for nightlife.
Fun for the Kids
A popular family activity at La Guancha is to feed the pelicans that often hang out at the dock. They’ve gotten used to being spoiled by humans and are quite docile.
The rustic neighborhood of Piñones, a short drive east from San Juan, presents a different side of Puerto Rico. After a sunset walk on the boardwalk, there’s nothing like grabbing a snack or two at a kiosk and checking out a live band at one of the rustic hangouts that stay open late into the night.
Soleil and El Balcón
Piñones by Day
This casual beachfront neighborhood is a terrific day trip from San Juan. Just bring your bathing suit, towel, and appetite! The sand, surf and oceanfront kiosks will keep you satisfied for hours.
If you do plan to party in Piñones, here’s a tip; keep the phone number of a taxi service with you, so you can arrange a pickup time and have a “designated driver” waiting when you’re ready to go home.