Ponce’s historic downtown has a small but vibrant shopping district that radiates from its central Plaza Las Delicias. The Atocha Pedestrian Mall, which runs north of the plaza along a single block, is a decidedly local affair, with sidewalk merchants hawking homemade sweets and cheap colorful jewelry in front of electronics and clothing shops. Follow it to the end to reach the city’s Plaza de Mercado, the recently renovated traditional farmers market selling fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, flowers and much more. The area has been a commercial district for centuries.

The historic district has many shops attuned to the cultural wonder that surrounds them, with beautiful handmade crafts and high quality works of art for sale. Many stores are a throwback to a simpler time

For artisans’ work, Mi Coquí, Calle Marina 9227 (tel. 787/812-0216), right on the plaza near the ice cream shop, is much more than a souvenir shop. They do sell many of the higher quality souvenirs you have seen before, but there are also real works of art, quality santos, vejigantes carnival masks, and original prints and paintings. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, informative and friendly. Prices are quite good for many pieces when the quality is considered.

Utopía, Calle Isabel 78 (tel. 787/848-8742), also right on Plaza Las Delicias, is another fine shop dedicated to high quality crafts and works of art, including the colorful carnival masks for which the city is famous. Gourmet items, handmade jewelry, and more are on offer. The store also carries indigenous arts and crafts from elsewhere in Latin America.

El Candil, Plaza Vilariño, Corner Calles Unión and Sol (tel. 787/242-6693), has a fine book and music selection and an excellent cafe, with gourmet coffee and tea as well as wine and tapas. There are more than 500 titles available; selections are weighted towards Spanish titles, but there are several fine editions regarding Puerto Rico and the arts that visitors will find interesting.

Plaza del Caribe , Hwy. 2 ([tel. 787/848-5566 or 848-1229), is the biggest mall in the south, with many of the same stores that are found in your local mall back home (Sears, JCPenny’s, and American Eagle Outfitters, among others), you may for a moment forget where you are. But with local surf and clothing shops, Caribbean cuisine in the food court, and Spanish titles dominating music and print choices, this is not quite home. Like other big malls in Puerto Rico, there is always some festival or other event taking place in the mall’s wide passageways, be it fresh Puerto Rican coffee, or a boat show, that expands on the shopping possibilities.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.