“When I was a kid, my bond was really with my grandparents,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda, the songwriter, actor, director and producer. “I would go to Puerto Rico with my family for a month every year. As my sister and I got older, I guess you could say we got sent there for a month a year.”
Those months went on to inform Mr. Miranda’s taste in food, art and culture. “I didn’t stay in a hotel, I stayed in town, I ate Puerto Rican food. That’s different than being a tourist.”
Over the years, Mr. Miranda has become one of the most prominent advocates for Puerto Rico. Next month, he will bring his musical “Hamilton” back to San Juan’s Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré for two weeks, hosting a fund-raiser to support the Hispanic Federation and the Flamboyan Foundation, a charity devoted to educational equity in Puerto Rico.
Mr. Miranda’s San Juan is one with a lot of history and authenticity — and, of course, one that leans heavily into the arts, including two places of special importance to the composer: Placita de Güisin, a community space with shops and food, and Galería Lin-Manuel Miranda, with exhibitions dedicated to Mr. Miranda’s art and his family history. Mr. Miranda has donated most of his awards — Tonys, Grammys, a Pulitzer — to the Galería. With one notable exception.
“For Christmas, my dad gave me the Emmy I won for ‘Hamilton’ — it got sent to his house nine months prior. He was like, ‘We found it was in our house, so Merry Christmas!’ I was like, ‘Your gift is an award I won?’” said Mr. Miranda, laughing so hard he had trouble getting the words out. “So I still have the ‘Hamilton’ Emmy … because I got it for Christmas.”
Here are five of Mr. Miranda’s favorite places to visit in and around San Juan.
1. Hotel El Convento
When he was a “young, almost adult,” Mr. Miranda said, “I would rent a car and drive around Old San Juan myself and just take it all in — the colonial buildings, the cobblestone streets.”
One of those buildings was also one of his favorite luxury hotels: Hotel El Convento, a former convent that dates back to the 17th century. It’s a “charming hotel overlooking the bay,” he said, adding that “the hotel’s Spanish Colonial architecture serves as a reminder of the archipelago’s past.” It’s also “steps from the beating heart of the city’s nightlife and historic sites.”
2. Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré
A few years ago, Mr. Miranda…
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