Plaza Las Americas Mall – A Shopping Day Trip:
The world’s largest JC Penny and Sears • Local arts and crafts • A movie theater • A Microsoft Store • And Starbucks? – OH MY!
Last week we ventured over to San Juan to check out this mall we’ve been hearing so much about – the Plaza Las Americas Mall. Everyone said that it is an awesome mall and that it’s the biggest in the Caribbean – that alone made us want to see it – but when we learned that it had a Microsoft store, well that was it, we had to go. And so we picked a weekday and ventured out there.
So, let me tell you about our experience of shopping in Plaza Las Americas and why I personally think it is worth a visit.
I have never seen a farmers market at a mall before or an entire section of a floor dedicated to artisan markets that sell local arts and crafts – I must say that was very unique. The little vendors in the open, middle areas of the mall, were also a big surprise – there were some pretty amazing art pieces (at bargain prices) to be found in them.
But, let me start at the beginning..
The reason we went during the week, rather than on the weekend, is because the crowds are typically smaller and we could predict the traffic easily and work around the rush hour(s). The mall is located off of F.D. Roosevelt Avenue, in the Hato Rey area of San Juan; so for us it was about a 40-minute drive. We chose a Wednesday to go and we timed it so that we left mid-morning, after the morning rush hour, and came back before the afternoon one.
My first impression was that it was indeed a huge mall. In Ann Arbor (where we moved from) we had a small-ish, one story mall called Briarwood. In comparison, Plaza Las Americas is enormous! The mall is at least two-stories high, some parts are three stories and the JC Penny store even has a forth story for services and snacks – crazy!
It is a very clean and modern mall, in fact, it is one of the most architecturally-pleasing malls I have ever visited. It reminded me a lot of something I would see in Vegas, with beautiful sculptures, skylights, fountains, and touch directory kiosks – yes, you read that correctly. I’ve only seen this at high-end shopping venues in Vegas.
Plaza Las Americas is home to some great stores, like the only Macy’s in the Caribbean, Gap, a HUGE Forever 21, JC Penny, Sears, Footlocker, and many, many more. In addition to the big chains, there are some real local gems to be found there. For example, there is an entire section of the third floor dedicated to local artisan arts and crafts. I went a little crazy in there because some of the art is truly beautiful; so Tim had to drag me out. There are over 300 stores in total over an area of 1.8 million square feet!
Plaza Las Americas also has many famous big chain restaurants, like Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang’s, and Applebee’s but you can also find smaller, local chains. We had lunch at Tierra del Fuego, an Argentinian steakhouse, and it was to-die-for! We both walked out of there high on protein and totally stuffed.
The mall has a movie theater (which I think is nice if you want to take a break from shopping) and conveniently located government offices – this is unique to Puerto Rico, I think, because I’ve never seen it anywhere else. I read somewhere that if you buy a wedding ring in Plaza Las Americas, you can go right to Demographic Registry Office (also located at the mall) to register for your marriage. When we were there, there was a place set up to do free tax seminars to help folks complete their taxes – pretty cool.
All in all, I thought Plaza Las Americas definitely lived up to the hype. I, certainly, was impressed and since it is only 40 minutes from Luquillo, I will most definitely go back. If you go, don’t miss out by spending too much time in one place, do a sweep of the whole mall first, then decide where you want to go back to shop. I have to warn you though: you will be doing A LOT of walking.