All eyes are on the Dominican Republic city of Santo Domingo — specifically the Zona Colonial, a historic quarter where new art spaces, shops, and restaurants are opening at a rapid clip.
- At Zona Bici Bike Rental you can rent a turquoise cruiser perfect for zipping around the narrow streets.
- Mamey Libreria Café is the ideal spot for an afternoon coffee. This chic cafe-bookstore-gallery draws a stylish, local crowd to its contemporary art exhibits, author readings, and monthly craft market.
- Four blocks away, Diseno Local Store sells edgy Dominican design objects, like Madame Blanco’s asymmetrical concrete plant pots and artfully carved wooden spoons by father-daughter team Zagarella. The second floor houses clothing by local designers, including funky T-shirts by the uber-cool Modafoca. Stock up, and then grab a gin and tonic on the terrace.
- Set in a 16th-century colonial mansion, Casa Quien is arguably the city’s best gallery, with a bar serving cocktails inspired by its exhibitions. For a recent reading by Guatemalan artist Regina Jose Galindo, the drinks incorporated flor de Jamaico and other ingredients native to her country.
- Be sure to do a dinner at Buche Perico, which has an enormous glass-enclosed courtyard. Lush with plants and strung with lights, the restaurant serves traditional Dominican dishes with a twist; like miniature fried plantain cups stuffed with goat meat and topped with guacamole and pico de gallo.
- The band at Lucia 203 aIways packs the dance floor on Saturday nights. Those who can’t squeeze in watch from the courtyard with cold Presidente beers or oversize sangrias in hand.
- Once the residence of Oscar de la Renta, the Casa del Diseno is the latest addition to Casas del XVI, a collection of colonial homes turned into luxury guesthouses. The two-bedroom retreat comes with a private chef and swimming pool.