Tucked away on a quiet street between the popular shopping mall Metrocentro and the Central American University (UCA), this hotel is about as central as you can get in Managua, yet it's still quiet and safe inside. They offer double rooms, family rooms, rooms with or without a private kitchenette, even mini-apartments, all on location. The hotel has a pool you can take a dip in on a hot day and a few different lovely garden areas with palm trees, running fountains, tables for enjoying breakfast, and rocking chairs for relaxing. Reception staff will help you with just about any request (ordering food in, calling a taxi, recommending restaurants, etc). Prices run a little higher than a standard hotel in Managua, but considering the comfort, location, and security, it's a great option for both tourists and business travellers.
Managua is a vibrant, developing city filled with plenty of restaurants, bars, nightlife, theaters, cinemas, and more. Even better, the various highways heading out of the city to other towns are also lined with good restaurants, activities, and nature reserves. Whether it's a Friday night or a lazy Sunday afternoon, you'll find something to keep you occupied.
Managua has two main markets: the Huembes market and the Oriental market. Although Huembes is considered by locals to be the "tourist" market, I'd actually recommend it over Oriental because it's safer, easier to get around, less chaotic, and (as a traveller) you'll probably find more of what you're looking for. Yes, if you want everyday stuff (shoes, electronics, whatever), Oriental is slightly cheaper. But if you're looking for souvenirs, gifts to bring home, handmade clothes and jewelry, leather items, furniture, hammocks -- pretty much anything artisanal -- this is the place. The market also has a large produce section, where you can buy all sorts of local fruits and vegetables you've never tried (much less heard of!) before. Make a whole morning of it: do your shopping, then have lunch and a refreshing Coke drunk from a plastic bag with a straw, Nica style, at one of the market's...
Sometimes you just have to get out of the city. Good thing there are lots of interesting things to do and see -- many of them nature-related! -- just a short drive from Managua. One of them is the Montibelli Wildlife Reserve, which is off of the Carretera a Masaya, on the Ticuantepe - La Concha road. You'll probably need a four-wheel drive to get there, but it's worth it. For an inexpensive guided tour, you'll be taken on a short hike (you can also do a longer hike on your own) and the guide will point out plants and animals you probably would never have noticed on your own. And yes, you'll even get to touch a tree frog.
Soup is a Monday tradition in Nicaragua. Why Mondays? Because that's when everybody is recovering from a weekend of drinking, dancing, and partying, and needs to get over their resaca (hangover). You can get different kinds of soup - chicken, meat, mondongo (tripe), to name a few, and they're served in giant bowls, usually accompanied by corn tortillas and rice. You can try the restaurant Capri, located in cool, breezy El Crucero, just outside Managua, which has delicious and inexpensive soup, served any day of the week in bowls about the size of your head.
It didn't happen right away, but I've grown to love micheladas. This refreshing drink, which apparently originated in Mexico, has become popular in Nicaragua and you can now find it in lots of bars and restaurants around the country. Of all the micheladas I've tried, nothing has beaten the ones they make at Mexican restaurant Andele on the Carretera Sur. I haven't been able to figure out their exact recipe (though don't think I haven't tried to replicate it at home!), but it's a mixture of lemon juice, beer (I like Victoria Frost), tabasco sauce, steak sauce, and probably some other ingredient I'm missing, served in a salt-rimmed glass. At Andele you get a luxuriously giant, chilled, ice-filled glass that makes you feel like you're away on a resort holiday.