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San Jose for a day

Atlanta, Georgia
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San Jose for a day

We are visiting Costa Rica with kids (approx age 10), and will spend most of our time in Guanacaste. However, we have a full day in San Jose. Any recommendations for what we should do in this region? We have a rental car and can explore the city, or can drive out and see some nearby regions. Any good markets, restaurants, neighborhoods to experience the culture?

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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1. Re: San Jose for a day

You do NOT want to explore the downtown San Jose with a car. Just leave the car at your hotel and us a taxi. Most places of interest are within walking distance; between Mercado Central and Museo Nacional there are Museo de Oro, Museo de Jade and Teatro Nacional.

However, having a full day and a car one can do several nice drives around San Jose: Poas Volcano and DOKA coffee plantation, Cartago and Irazu volcano with Lankester Botanical Gardens, Sarchi and Grecia with Zoo Ave near Alajuela, ...

JENSEN BEACH
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2. Re: San Jose for a day

It is easy to hop on a bus or take a taxi to downtown San Jose. I would opt for Zoo Avenue or go to Toucan Rescue Ranch. If your kids are animal lovers they can volunteer to help feed the animals at Toucan Rescue Ranch. Sloths, monkeys, kinkajous etc and dozens of birds. Great intro to Costa Rica for animal lovers. For exploring the culture downtown San Jose is a good choice. Central Mercado and the downtown shopping area are fun but I limit exploration downtown to daylight hours.

Tampa, FL
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for San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: San Jose for a day

Personally speaking, I find having a car and driving around downtown SJ to be more of a pain than it is worth. If you are staying downtown it is usually easier to walk or take short cab rides, which generally cost only a couple of bucks, rather than negotiate traffic and find secure parking. If you're staying outside of downtown and want to see the city, then either drive, park and walk or even take a cab or bus downtown.

What to do in SJ itself? Many people like the museums but I'm not so sure how interesting most of those would be to kids that age. The Museo Nacional might be a little more interesting because its in an old fort and features such things as historical dioramas, old military uniforms and such. If you go there, also check out the Artisan's Market which is located across the plaza from the museum. But the best museum of all for your kids will probably be the Museo de Ninos (Children's Museum) which is located in of all things an old penitentiary. I only say "probably" because I have to admit I've never actually been there myself. If you go there, you'll probably want to take a cab as its on a hill on the north side of downtown and a bit of a distance from the city center where most of the other attractions are located. You might also want to check out the Mercado Central (Central Market) as it has a LOT going on inside and in the area surrounding such as exotic fruits and vegetables, exposed slabs of meat and fish, medicinal herbs, souvenir type stuff as well as various other schlock type stuff for the locals. Finally, I'll add one place that I think you might consider going with your kids but which you should really avoid and that is the city zoo. I went once and foind the conditions for the animals to be completely deplorable and so do not recommend supporting such an institution. If you're interested in something like that I think you'd be much better advised to visit the Zoo Ave (http://www.zooavecostarica.org/) which is located in La Garita (just on the other side of Alajuela).

That brings me to my recommendations for places to visit in the areas surrounding San Jose. In addition to the Zoo Ave (which is probably most easily accessed when you have your own car), I'd also recommend visiting the Butterfly Farm in La Guacima (butterflyfarm.co.cr/en/…index.html) which also happens to be very close to the aforementioned Zoo Ave.

Another activity that most people would recommend is a visit to a Coffee Farm. It has been frequently debated which is better of the 2 most popular coffee farm tours near San Jose, Cafe Britt or Doka Estate. I've been on both and personally liked Doka the most, however I'd actually recommend Cafe Britt more for families with young kids as I think it is more kid-friendly. This can also be done independently since you have a car, but they offer package deals with the Butterfly Farm Tour so you might want to check into that in your planning.(http://www.coffeetour.com/). And for an evener fuller day you can package those with a visit to Poas Volcano which is also highly educational (has a good visitor center unlike Irazu). These packages include transportation, so you can leave the driving to them and your car at your hotel.

Another activity that a lot of visitors enjoy is zip-line canopy tours, but that would probably be much too intense for such young kids if they're even allowed on it at all. A much better option for young kids would be the more sedate aerial tram tour (rainforestadventure.com/costa_rica_atlantic_…). There are also lots of other things to do at this place (been added since I was there long ago), so you can sign up for various packages (and one of you even get in that zip-line run while the other watches the kids).

What else? Again the highly popular white-water rafting trips may be too intense for your kids but there are also "float trips" on class 1-2 rivers that can also be done from the SJ area. Not to endorse this particular one over any of the others but just as an example: riostropicales.com/index.php/adventure-trave…

This short list above actually just scratches the surface of what things can be done from the SJ area, but I think include some of the better activities for families such as yours.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: San Jose for a day

Thanks All for your suggestions.

Manuel Antonio...
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5. Re: San Jose for a day

I think you are your kids will love La Paz Waterfall Gardens

http://www.waterfallgardens.com/

They have amazing waterfalls, trails, lots of animals (hummingbirds, snakes, butterfly garden, birds, monkeys, etc), and their buffet lunch is pretty good.

My daughter loves this place, and I don't get tired of visiting it myself. You could also visit Poas Volcano (the second biggest crater in America) since it is close by.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: San Jose for a day

La Paz looks beautiful. How long does it take to drive from San Jose? We have a car.

Could we visit Poas Volcano and La Paz in one day, and still be back in San Jose by evening?

Tampa, FL
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7. Re: San Jose for a day

You can absolutely do both in one day. You should visit Poas first so you can beat the clouds (and the crowds). It should take you a little bit over an hour to get there (depending on how much traffic you hit coming out of SJ). And, as tulemar told you, La Paz is just a short distance away from there (maybe 10-15?)

San Jose, Costa Rica
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8. Re: San Jose for a day

Downtown San Jose is so much better walking, however we had beautiful places near to San Jose that driving takes less than an hour like the volcanos and places to do canopy, rapel and more aventure activities.

9. Re: San Jose for a day

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