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The oldest city in the New World, the Dominican Republic capital is a treasure trove of historic buildings set amid a backdrop so authentic you can practically hear the clank of the conquistadors' armor; the Old Town, or Zona Colonial, remains partially enclosed by remnants of the original city wall. Santo Domingo has a modern side as well, making this one of the Caribbean's most vibrant cities -- the lilting sounds of merengue music are guaranteed to lure you into the bars and dance clubs of the capital after dark.
Things to Do
Stroll the narrow streets and explore the old stone buildings of Zona Colonial, a 12-block area from which Spain launched its conquest of the New World. Walk the narrow cobblestoned streets in the footsteps of Columbus, Ponce de León and Cortés. Set aside a couple of hours to visit Alcázar de Colón, the palace constructed for Columbus's son, Diego, in 1517.
Amber and larimar (Dominican turquoise) jewelry are the top handicrafts on sale. Dominican amber is renowned and comes in a range of colors, from bright yellow to black, some with encased insects. Hand-wrapped cigars are sold virtually everywhere. Head to La Atarazana, a Zona Colonial neighborhood of art galleries and gift and jewelry stores -- come prepared to haggle.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Around midnight, young locals flock to the clubs of Santo Domingo, where dancers impressively strut their stuff. If you're timid about joining in on the festivities, it makes for great people-watching. La Guácara Taína, one of the best discotecas in the country, is set in an underground cave inside a verdant park. The house specialties are merengue, salsa, and other forms of Latin music.
Restaurants and Dining
Many Dominicans consider dining out a formal experience and dress to impress. Venture out with the locals to El Mesón de la Cava, where the fine-dining seafood specialties include a velvety conch gratinée and the steaming sopa de pescado (red snapper chowder). La Résidence is set in a former 16th-century mansion; among the top-flight dishes are spit-roasted lamb served with bacon, garlic, and vinegar sauce and rabbit stuffed with bacon and mushrooms.
Find convenient American Airlines flights to Santo Domingo and discover this remarkable Caribbean retreat. Not only will you find beautiful beaches here, but as the oldest city in the New World, there is a treasure trove of history and culture to explore. With our tips on the best things to do in Santo Domingo, you can get to know this unique Dominican Republic destination.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is incredibly well preserved. That translates into many activities in Santo Domingo that let you get to know its rich culture and history. Did you know that Santo Domingo is home to the first street, cathedral, university and hospital in the Americas? The first cathedral of the Americas, Cathedral de Santa Maria, features an intriguing combination of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Construction occurred between 1514 and 1544 in phases, which resulted in the mix of styles.
Our list of things to do in Santo Domingo would be incomplete without including the many museums here. In fact, Santo Domingo boasts the largest number of museums anywhere in the Caribbean. From the Museum of the Dominican Man to The Modern Art Museum, there are enough options to keep you busy for a week. Of particular interest is the Alcazar de Colon Museum (or Columbus Palace Museum), which displays artifacts belonging to the family of Christopher Columbus. The building itself was constructed in the 1500s by Christopher's son Diego, and is worthy of investigation on its own.
Of course, one of the most popular activities in Santo Domingo, as with other Dominican Republic destinations, is to relax on a picturesque beach. One of the most easily accessible is the Boca Chica Beach. It's well protected by a coral reef and since it is largely shallow near the beach, it's a favorite spot for families. Seafood restaurants surrounding the beach make it easy to spend an entire day here.
Another of our favorite things to do in Santo Domingo is to stroll through the National Botanical Gardens. It features a truly serene Japanese garden along with a fine collection of native flora. We also like Los Tres Ojos (or The Three Eyes) for its trio of limestone caves and grottoes that are a welcome and refreshing respite from the afternoon sun.
There are many facets to this historical Dominican Republic destination, and American Airlines makes it easy to fly to Santo Domingo so you can discover them all. Start planning your trip here today!
|Merengue and Caribbean Rhythms Festival||Aug 2013 (annual)||El Malecon|
|Design Caribbean||Sep 2013 (annual)||Sans Souci Terminal|
|Santo Domingo Carnival||Feb 2014; Weekends only (various dates)||Santo Domingo|
|Santo Domingo Carnival||Mar 2014 (various dates)||Santo Domingo|
|Santo Domingo International Book Fair||Apr - May 2014 (annual)||Plaza de la Cultura Juan Pablo Duarte|
|Café Bellini||Italian||Around Town||3||2|
|Café Casabe||Creole||Around Town||1||1|
|Champions Sports Bar & Restaurant||American||Around Town||1||1|
|Davey Crockett||Steaks/Chops||Around Town||3||2|
|Don Pepe||Spanish/Portuguese||Around Town||2||3|
|El Mesón de la Cava||International||Around Town||3||2|
|La Briciola||Italian||Around Town||1||3|
|La Résidence||Continental||Around Town||2||2|
|Lina Restaurant||International||Around Town||2||3|
|Meson D'Bari||Creole||Around Town||1||2|
|Palacio de Jade||Chinese||Around Town||2||2|
|Pat é Palo||International||Around Town||1||3|
|Pepperoni Café||Eclectic||Around Town||2||2|
|Sophia's Bar & Grill||International||Around Town||3||3|
|Vesuvio I and Trattoria Vesuvio||Italian||Around Town||2||3|
|Adrian Tropical||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|Bachata Rosa||Dance Clubs||1|
|Bottoms||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|El Napolitano Casino||Gambling||1|
|El Napolitano Disco||Dance Clubs||1|
|Fantasy Disco||Dance Clubs||1|
|Jet Set||Dance Clubs||2|
|La Guácara Taína||Dance Clubs||1|
|Marrakesh Bar & Café||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|Mesón D'Bari||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|Mitre||The Club & Music Scene||1|
|Punto y Corcho||Wine Bars||1|
|Renaissance Jaragua Hotel & Casino||Gambling||1|
|Teatro Nacional||The Performing Arts||1|
|The Majestic Casino||Gambling||1|
|Cigar King||Specialty Shopping||1|
|Galería El Greco||Art||2|
|Galería de Arte Nader||Art||1|
|La Sirena||Department Stores||1|
|Nuebo||Housewares & Furniture||3|
|Santo Domingo Cigar Club||Specialty Shopping||1|
|Von||Housewares & Furniture||1|
|Alcázar de Colón||Landmark||3|
|Amber World Museum||Museum||1|
|Capilla de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios||Religious Site||1|
|Casa de Tostado||Historic Site||1|
|Casa del Cordón||Historic Site||2|
|Catedral Primada de América||Religious Site||3|
|El Faro a Colón||Landmark||2|
|Fortaleza Ozama||Historic Site||1|
|Iglesia Santa Bárbara||Religious Site||1|
|Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes||Religious Site||1|
|Iglesia y Convento Domínico||Religious Site||1|
|Jardín Botánico Nacional||Park/Garden||2|
|Museo Nacional de Historia y Geografía||Museum||1|
|Museo de Arte Moderno||Museum||2|
|Museo de las Atarazanas||Museum||1|
|Museo de las Casas Reales||Museum||2|
|Museo del Hombre Dominicano||Museum||3|
|Panteón de la Patria||Historic Site||1|
|Parque Mirador del Este||Park/Garden||1|
|Parque Mirador del Sur||Park/Garden||1|
|Zona Colonial||Historic Site||3|
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