On your next trip to the Dominican Republic, look beyond the all-inclusive resorts and head to the city of Santo Domingo.

Santo Domingo Zona Colonial
Credit: UIG/Getty Images

All eyes are on the Dominican Republic city of Santo Domingo, which was named one of Travel + Leisure's Best Places to Travel in 2017. Plan a trip centered around the Zona Colonial, a historic quarter where new art spaces, shops, and restaurants are opening at a rapid clip.

Zona Bici Bike Rental

At Zona Bici Bike Rental, you can rent a turquoise cruiser perfect for zipping around the narrow streets.

Mamey Libreria Café

Mamey Librería Café is the ideal spot for an afternoon coffee. This chic café-bookstore gallery draws a stylish, local crowd to its contemporary art exhibits, author readings, and monthly craft market.

Diseño Local Store

Four blocks away, Diseño 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 über-cool Modafoca. Stock up, and then grab a gin and tonic on the terrace.

Casa Quien

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 José Galindo, the drinks incorporated flor de Jamaica and other ingredients native to her country.

Buche Perico

Be sure to do a dinner at Buche Perico (entrées $10–$40), 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.

Lucía 203

The band at Lucía 203 always 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.

Casas del XVI

Once the residence of Oscar de la Renta, the Casa del Diseño is the latest addition to Casas del XVI (doubles from $1,500), a collection of colonial homes turned into luxury guesthouses. The two-bedroom retreat comes with a private chef and swimming pool.