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Best spring break value travel destinations: Puerto Rico

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    Tourists walk near the 16th century Spanish fort called El Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AP)

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    El Morro, San Juan (AP)

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    El Morro in San Juan de Puerto Rico (AP)

Only two hours from Miami, Puerto Rico has the distinct advantage for travelers of being part of an U.S. territory.  So, you can use good old American greenbacks, don’t need to bring your passport, and can still catch episodes of American Idol. (Plus, for better or for worse, the drinking age is only 18.)

Also, with a host of convenient and mid-priced flights (fares from New York City to Puerto Rico are about $350 RT and take 3.5 – 4 hours), going to Puerto Rico feels like going to a foreign country without all the hassle.

For history buffs, there’s Old San Juan, founded in 1521 and arguably the oldest city in the US. Shoppers will love Calle de Cristo, a cobblestone street lined with galleries, shops and restaurants which feels transported straight from Spain. And for sheer breathtaking scenery, El Yunque rainforest—a misty mountain peak in the northeast—harkens back to a time before civilization. If you want to tempt lady luck, many hotels feature casinos, including the El San Juan, the Sheraton, the Condado, and the Marriott.

Unlike most other Caribbean destinations, Puerto Rico has few all-inclusive options; however, it’s possible to find great deals. Try the Caribe Playa Beach Resort in Patillas, which has clean rooms with beach-front views for as little as $80/night. Or stay at the Casa del Caribe, well-situated in Condado between ritzy Isla Verde and charming Old San Juan and with rooms for as low as $75/night.

Most major U.S. hubs fly into Luis Muñoz Airport in San Juan, with a few flights into Aguadilla and Ponce.