Catedral de Puntarenas. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Sights in the Port Town of Puntarenas

Puntarenas has long been favored by Josefinos seeking R&R. This sultry port town is built along a narrow spit running west from the suburb of Cocal and backed to the north by a mangrove estuary; to the south are the Golfo de Nicoya and a beach cluttered with driftwood. Though tiny, there’s plenty to see here from museums to festivals to mingling with the locals.

View of Lake Izabal from Castillo de San Felipe de Lara. Photo © Stuart Gray/123rf.

Planning Your Time in El Oriente and Izabal

The Izabal region features a unique kind of Caribbean experience not at all like Cancún or the West Indies but nonetheless beautiful. Meanwhile in El Oriente, Copán showcases some of the Mayan world’s finest ruins and the surrounding mountainous countryside is becoming increasingly popular with travelers exploring coffee farms, a jungle bird park, and hot springs.

El Mercado Viejo in Masaya. Photo © Carles-Amalaric Navarro Parcerisas/123rf.

Sights in Masaya, Nicaragua

Soak in the culture and people-watching of Masaya’s plazas, especially the throbbing social and commercial heart of the mostly indigenous Monimbó neighborhood, peruse crafts markets where find all manner of delightful surprises: locally made leather shoes, brass, iron, carved wood, and textile handicrafts, plus paintings, clothing and hammocks, and cool off after an intense morning in the market on the windswept malecón.

Glass Beach. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Sights in Fort Bragg

The village of Mendocino may be where folks savor the scenery, but Fort Bragg is where the work gets done. This blue-collar town is home to lumber mills, fishing boats, and scores of working train tracks. It is rougher around the edges than its gentle cousin down the coast, but it has some great attractions, beautiful scenery, and tons of local color.

Catedral Santiago de los Caballeros. Photo © Dreamstime.

Sights in Managua

You can easily visit all of Managua’s main attractions, which are scattered along the Avenida Bolívar, in half a day. Many are ruins and monuments to the disastrous 1972 earthquake that leveled the city, others are simply lovely places to sit and take in the city views. Expert author Elizabeth Perkins is here with a guided tour.

Temple I at sunrise. Photo © Al Argueta.

Explore the Ruins of Tikal

There is plenty to explore in this vast Mayan city that once harbored thousands of people, and you could easily spend several days here taking it all in. The ruins in evidence today are representative of the latter years of Tikal’s existence, as the Maya built on top of existing temples and palaces.

The garden at Casa Popenoe in Antigua. Photo © Lgalvarado (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Antigua’s Museums

Awash with history, Antigua is home to a handful of museums well worth making time for between your explorations of the city and the surrounding landscape. Displays range from arts and sculptures to religious artifacts to wonderfully restored 17th century architecture.

Catedral Metropolitana in San Salvador. Photo © Milosk50/Dreamstime.

San Salvador, El Salvador’s Urban Heart

Chaotic, congested, and consistently noisy, San Salvador is El Salvador’s capital and resilient urban heart. Battle hardened by civil unrest and natural disasters, the city bears the scars of its past with a fierce determination to create a better future, and it seems that perhaps finally, the tide is turning. It’s an exciting time of transition, and as a visitor, there is much to see and do. In fact, San Salvador can be the perfect base for your travels, with all of the comforts and amenities you need and many of the country’s top sights within a short bus ride away

Museo del Cemí is devoted to artifacts of the Taíno Indians. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Mountain Scenery and Taíno Culture in Jayuya, Puerto Rico

If you visit only one place in Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central, go to Jayuya. Go to experience the gorgeous mountain scenery and some of the highest peaks on the island, where it’s possible to see both the Atlantic and the Caribbean, as well as vegetation thick with sierra palms, bamboo, banana trees, and brilliantly colorful impatiens. This is also the place to soak up the rich Taíno culture and explore other historic sights.

Ebenezer Baptist Church. Photo © Lpkb/Dreamstime.

A Guided Tour of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

Almost a million people make the pilgrimage to Atlanta each year to pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Since 1980, the National Park Service has maintained the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which includes the graves of King and his wife, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the King Birth Home, and Historic Fire Station No. 6.