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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s San Juan, Puerto Rico


“When I was a kid, my bond was really with my grandparents,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda, the songwriter, actor, director and producer. “I would go to Puerto Rico with my family for a month every year. As my sister and I got older, I guess you could say we got sent there for a month a year.”

Those months went on to inform Mr. Miranda’s taste in food, art and culture. “I didn’t stay in a hotel, I stayed in town, I ate Puerto Rican food. That’s different than being a tourist.”

Over the years, Mr. Miranda has become one of the most prominent advocates for Puerto Rico. Next month, he will bring his musical “Hamilton” back to San Juan’s Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré for two weeks, hosting a fund-raiser to support the Hispanic Federation and the Flamboyan Foundation, a charity devoted to educational equity in Puerto Rico.

Mr. Miranda’s San Juan is one with a lot of history and authenticity — and, of course, one that leans heavily into the arts, including two places of special importance to the composer: Placita de Güisin, a community space with shops and food, and Galería Lin-Manuel Miranda, with exhibitions dedicated to Mr. Miranda’s art and his family history. Mr. Miranda has donated most of his awards — Tonys, Grammys, a Pulitzer — to the Galería. With one notable exception.

“For Christmas, my dad gave me the Emmy I won for ‘Hamilton’ — it got sent to his house nine months prior. He was like, ‘We found it was in our house, so Merry Christmas!’ I was like, ‘Your gift is an award I won?’” said Mr. Miranda, laughing so hard he had trouble getting the words out. “So I still have the ‘Hamilton’ Emmy … because I got it for Christmas.”

Here are five of Mr. Miranda’s favorite places to visit in and around San Juan.

When he was a “young, almost adult,” Mr. Miranda said, “I would rent a car and drive around Old San Juan myself and just take it all in — the colonial buildings, the cobblestone streets.”

“This is where all my childhood summer pictures are,” said Mr. Miranda of the generous stretch of sand in Vega Alta about half an hour from the center of San Juan. He’d spend most of his time at his grandparents’ house while they worked, but occasionally summer, “we’d go to the beach — and it’s beautiful. It’s my childhood beach.”

The ocean lapping at these shores is especially gentle. “The waves are so chill, you can let the kids and the dog run around, and it’s so easy to get into and out of the water in Puerto Rico. I just see that coastline, and it’s home.”


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