Ponce recalls 19th century colonialism in Puerto Rico

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Getting there:

From Atlanta, fly direct to San Juan and catch a short flight on Cape Air to Ponce, or rent a car. The drive takes about an hour on divided highways with tolls. Or catch a Jet Blue flight from New York or Orlando to Ponce’s Mercedita International Airport (PSC) .

Where to Stay

Hotel Bélgica. In continuous operation since 1872, this small, charming hotel was recently renovated and offers clean, simple accommodations with private baths, satellite TV and air conditioning. Located one block from Plaza de Las Delicias. Ask for a room with a balcony if you don’t mind a little street noise. $77-$99, 122 Calle Villa, 787-844-3255,

Ramada Ponce Hotel. Ramada has recently renovated an 1882 building overlooking Plaza de Las Delicias, giving the city a much-needed upscale hotel option with a bold, modern art aesthetic. Rooms come with plenty of amenities, including flat-screen TVs and wireless internet. Lola is a popular restaurant and bar located on the first floor. $135-$140. Calle Reina at Calle Unión, 787-813-5033,

Where to Eat

Pito’s Seafood Café and Restaurant. Watch pelicans dive for their dinner while dining on every type of seafood imaginable from the terrace dining room of this ocean-side restaurant. Specialties include whole fried snapper and mofongo (a garlicky mash of green plantain) stuffed with shrimp or steak. Entrees $16-$35. Open daily. PR 2, Sector Las Cucharas. 787-841-4977,

La Guardarraya. Located 20 minutes west of Ponce, this destination restaurant not only serves some of the finest authentic Puerto Rican cuisine on the island, but it is the originator of the Chuleta Can Can, a traditional pork dish designed for hungry meat lovers. $7-$15. Open. Wed.-Sun. PR 127, km 6.0, Guayanilla. 787-856-4222,

What to See

Hacienda Buena Vista. The 19th century coffee plantation has been restored by the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, which gives tours in Spanish and English. $5-$8. Wed.-Sun. PR 123, km 16.8. 787-722-5882, ext. 240; 787/284-7020. Reservations required.

Museo de Arte de Ponce. The recently expanded museum features more than 3,000 works of art by European masters, American moderns and Puerto Rican artists from the 14th century to the present. $3-$6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed.-Mon. 2325 Ave. Las Americas. 787-848-0505 or 787/840-1510.

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