Puerto Rico does it better. Or at least that’s what license plates on the island will have you believe. As the polar vortex continues pummeling the Northeast, there’s no better time to explore the U.S. territory that lies a quick 3 1/2-hour flight from JFK—and which also happens to be sizzling under the white-hot cultural spotlight. Perhaps you’ll run into the next Joan Smalls, the Puerto Rican native staring down the modeling industry with what some claim is “the world’s perfect face.” Sadly, you’ve already missed Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who cavorted around San Juan in December while filming 22 Jump Street on the beach. (Neither showed skin, although the sequel was looking for 18- to 30-year-old female extras willing to go topless.)
Whether you’re a snowbird or a sunchaser, below is a little guide to either steer you towards your next vacation—or convince you winter in New York actually is a wonderland. Need we remind you that a long President’s Day weekend is fast approaching…
In New York… With the wind chill, lung-freezing lows hovering near zero later this week.
In Puerto Rico… Better call Nick Lachey, because they’re creeping towards 98 degrees. (Actually only 90, but call him anyway. We’re worried.)
In New York… Strap yourself into these Marc by Marc Jacobs snow boots.
In Puerto Rico… Wear nothing but SPF 50.
In Puerto Rico… Comfortably at La Concha Resort, complete with two infinity pools, a 24-hour casino and balconies facing the irrepressibly teal Condado Beach. (Rates begin at $349 a night.)
In New York… Whole roasted chicken for two with seared foie gras and the winter mushroom fricassée persillade at Rôtisserie Georgette on the Upper East Side.
In Puerto Rico… Chef’s menu at 1919 Restaurant, dreamed up by Blue Hill and eight one alum Chef Juan José Cuevas in the classically gorgeous Condado Vanderbilt Hotel (set to reopen later this year). Standouts include pork belly crostini, branzino with Brussels sprouts, chicharrón and a swoosh of tamarind, and warm Valrhona chocolate cake. Fresh, local, still not bikini-friendly.
In New York… Practice for Sochi at Prospect Park’s new ice skating rink. Because in this cold, venturing to Brooklyn is worth a gold medal.
In Puerto Rico… Hike through a bit of El Yunque’s 28,000 acres of greenery and wade under La Mina Falls. Because it’s the only natural rainforest on U.S. Territory, and monsoons trump blizzards every time.
In New York… Wonder how the Central Park-dwelling skunks who were reportedly spraying dogs are surviving the snow.
In Puerto Rico… Snorkel with curious sea turtles on the island of Culebra, a short ferry ride away from the main island.
PREPARE TO OVERHEAR
In New York… “Seriously, it’s so cold I’m just going to stay in and watch Mitt on Netflix,” or so says a Democrat who’s run out of options.
In Puerto Rico… “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while,” or so says a blackjack player from Savannah celebrating a good hand.
In New York… Tuck into carnitas and lamb belly tacos at mad genius Danny Bowien’s new Mission Cantina on the Lower East Side. Finish off with a dirty horchata.
In Puerto Rico… Pick up a flaky, creamy quesito at local favorite España bakery, a quick drive from San Juan. Also debate buying a leg of jamón Ibérico de bellota for $1,499—it comes with a stand!
In New York… That Bridget Jones split second when a car sprays black snowy ooze on your new boots.
In Puerto Rico… Your feet on white sand, the sunset, a plate of mofongo (fried plantains), your toes on a different patch of white sand. Also, double-check Rex Ryan isn’t following you.
IF YOU’RE SMART
In New York… You’ll hibernate until April.
In Puerto Rico… You’ll ask yourself WWJBD? (What Would Justin Bieber Do?) And head straight to Panama.