Delightful Day Tours for Families from San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rica with kids By Camille Miller
La Paz Waterfall Gardens (Flickr: Don Henise)
Families love Costa Rica for its laid-back atmosphere, it's exhilarating natural attractions, and it's setting in paradise. There are more things to do in Costa Rica than you will have time for, whether you plan to stay two days or two weeks. A day tour is a great, family-friendly way to get the highlights into your schedule and make the most of your time. Make arrangements yourself to take one of these kid-favorite tours during your stay, or make use of your hotel's concierge who can help with ground transportation, and often have arrangements with the best guides for the best tours.
Arenal Volcano & Hot Springs (8-12 hours | $$$)
Springs Resort & Spa overlooking Arenal Volcano (Courtesy The Springs Resort and Spa)
Visitors who hope to see Arenal in just one day will wish they had planned for more. But if a day's visit is on your itinerary, stop in at the Springs Resort & Spa to request a Day Visitor Package. This gives you entrance and includes the use of eighteen pools, four restaurants, and treatments at the Spa. For an additional fee, take the family on a family-friendly guided tour of the Wildlife Preserve. Plan to make reservations if you plan to arrive during busy season (Mar-Apr & Dec-Jan).
More Volcano Tours:
- Poas Volcano. 4-6 hours. $
- Irazu Volcano (& Cartago City, the Old Capital). 8 hours. $$$
Waterfalls, Rivers & Beaches
La Paz Waterfall Gardens (6 hours | $$)
Feed a toucan, whisper to the butterflies, hum with the hummingbirds, and take thousands of pictures. The tour gives you a behind-the-scenes look at these lush tropical gardens. The garden includes the world's largest butterfly enclosure, an orchid exhibition and an aquarium; and the trail crosses five waterfalls! Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. Families visiting Costa Rica will talk about the tropical beauty of this place for years to come.
More Water Attractions:
- Surfing Lessons in Jaco. 8 hours. $$$
- White Water Rafting (Pacuare and Reventazon rivers). 12 hours. $
Grecia & Sarchi (8 hours | $$)
Experience life in the countryside with a visit to these two scenic and charming towns. This tour is a leisurely walk through the country's crafts and artesian centers. Bring your wallet to indulge in the extensive shopping opportunities and restaurants in the area. Visit the “all metal” church in Grecia; or learn a new skill or two at the master wood carving facilities, or historic oxcart factory.
More City Tours:
- San Jose City Tour. 4 hours. $
- Heredia City & Cafe Britt. 6 hours. $
- Irazu Volcano & Cartago City. 8 hours. $
Zip Line Canopy Tour (6 hours | $$)
Zip lining through the Costa Rican forests canopy (Courtesy Sky Adventures )
A breathtaking zip-lining tour through the lush jungle canopy should top your list of family-friendly activities in Costa Rica. Ride on a network of cables, strung from one platform to another high above the rainforest. Harnesses are safe and secure, available for everyone ages 4+, and give the feeling of flying through the air. If you're lucky, you'll spot monkeys below moving through the trees almost as quickly as you do!
- Braulio Carrillo Rain Forest & Aerial Tram 6 hours. $$
- Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Atlantic. 6 hours. $$
Gardens, Plantations & Farms
Freddo Leche (1-2 hours | $)
Freddo Aventura Rural (Courtesy Freddo Aventura Rural)
Freddo Aventura Rural is a family-friendly theme park in the middle of the Poas and Barva volcanoes. Go on a tour of a farm, see the volcanos from breathtaking overlooks, walk a cloud forest trail, harvest in the strawberry fields, and visit the dairy farm and artisan cheese factory. It’s a hands-on way to experience Costa Rica with the family.
- Imbio Park. 2 hours. $
- Doka Coffee Plantations. 4 hours. $
- Lancaster Gardens. 3 hours. $
Zoo Aviary (2 hours | $)
The Zoo is a great stop if you’re still checking off your bucket list of animals to see in Costa Rica. While educating the public about local wildlife, this zoo also breeds endangered animals for eventual release to the wild. Many of them are rescued animals, and the small entrance fee helps to pay for their care. Much of the signage is in English, and the kids will enjoy an ice cream cone at the end.
More Wildlife Attractions:
- Birdwatching. 12 hours. $$
- Photography. 2-6 hours. $$
Touring Tips for Families: Schedule your tours to begin in the morning when both mother nature and busy cities are just beginning to wake up. Afternoon showers may put a damper on afternoon activities, especially between May and November, so be prepared with a waterproof jacket or poncho.
Camille Miller contributed this to MiniTime.