Despite what its name would suggest, the oceanside area of San Juan known as Condado, which translates simply to “county” in English, is anything but common. Its main drag, Avenida Ashford, stands out as a beautifully-landscaped, pedestrian-friendly showcase of Puerto Rico’s more high end style. And yet the sands of Condado Beach stretch along the Atlantic coastline just a block away. To the east the avenue turns into Ocean Park’s McLeary Street, while the west side leads to Puente Dos Hermanos, the famous bridge towards Old San Juan.
Tourists and locals intermingle daily along Avenida Ashford, its buildings an incredibly diverse mix of residential housing, traveler accommodations, food and retail, as well as public services. High fashion and home décor is on display on many of the storefronts, with Puerto Rican designers making their name among established international brands. Restaurant options abound featuring a wide range of international cuisine options.
Midway along the avenue lies the recently-completed project known as La Ventana al Mar. For this so-called “window to the sea,” a swath of buildings have been replaced by open, public space with a fountain and a walkway stretching out into the ocean. Instead of being lined up along the Avenida Ashford, the businesses here are lined up towards the Atlantic, perpendicular to the street and facing the plaza and the crashing waves. And so, even when walking this busy, cosmopolitan street in search of fine dining or exquisite gifts, visitors are reminded of the beauty that inspires its residents is actually out in the open.