San José, the diverse capital city of Costa Rica, is located in the Central Valley region. It is a heady assortment of erstwhile and contemporary architectural structures that celebrate the historical legacy and the present day evolution of the nation. San Jose often acts as a convenient base for trips to several tourist attractions in the country and this is what really makes this city an attractive and sought after destination. San Jose is one of the youngest capitals in Latin America and is the hub of all significant political, administration and financial activities in the country. The weather is characterized as dry (December to April) and a rainy season (May to November). They city is as much focused on its commerce as its art, replete with art galleries and art museums that showcase the aesthetic prowess of the nation.
San Jose is the cradle of a rich culture and historical legacy, finely detailed architecture, a vibrant nightlife and amiable citizens. Often seen a symbol of both, a conventional Central American city and bustling urban destination, San Jose offers a wonderful assortment of activities and attractions for all traveler interests. Since this is the cultural hotbed of the country, there are tons of museums, art galleries, sprawling parks and dining options for visitors to pick from. The modern city still features several World War II structures. Some of the most popular attractions in San Jose include the Central Park, Morazan Park, Spanish Park, National Park, Democracy Plaza and the Jade Museum. For those who love their culture, history and fun, San Jose is a fascinating mélange of all this and more. Some of the top hotels in this bustling city include Real Intercontinental San Jose, The Alta Hotel, The Barceló Palacio Hotel, Costa Rica Marriott Hotel, Adventure Inn Hotel and more.
La Sabana Metropolitan Park – It’s not necessary to leave the heart of San Jose to enjoy Costa Rica’s immaculate greenery. La Sabana Park is located at the old main airport in San Jose. Popular with locals and tourists alike, La Sabana Park should be on the must see for any tourist. It is the country’s largest and most significant cityscape green space, along the lines of New York’s Central Park. The park also houses the National Stadium, a huge 40,000-seat venue that witnesses some of the best global musical talent and thrilling sporting events. The best way to enjoy this destination is to pack up picnic lunch or watch a game here.
Los Quetzoles – Celebrated for its large population of quetzal birds, this park is a significant habitat for several indigenous animals and plants along the Cordillera de Talamancan. The quetzal is a local tiny, brightly colored bird that can be spotted all around the place here. The best time to come here is from December and May, which is the prime mating season for these birds. The park encompasses three distinct types of rainforest and a staggering 14 different ecosystems, making it a great destination for bird watchers to spot coyotes, tanagers, hummingbirds, jaguars and tapirs. The park flanks the Rio Savegre, and is home to a wide assortment of vividly colored tropical fauna.
San Gerardo de Dota – Known to be one of the most scenic spots to go bird watching in the area, San Gerardo de Dota boasts of striking views of lush rolling hills adorned by the Cordillera de Talamanca at the back. There are around 200 aviary species in this area, which makes the park is a must-visit for all nature buffs. San Gerardo de Dota has yet to earn the popular tourist destination tag, which is why travelers may find this hidden haunt to be quiet, relaxed and unusual.
Museo Oro Precolombino (The Gold Museum) – This fascinating museum comprises of 1600 pieces of Pre-Columbian gold work dating as far back as 500 AD. The exhibit features information about how these pieces were created in terms of tools and required skills, as well as their cultural, social and religious importance. The Numismatic Museum (ancient coins and currency) and The Temporary Exhibition Galleries are present within the Museo Oro Precolombino premises. There is a well stocked museum souvenir shop and a tourist office at the entrance of the museum. The museum is located right below the Plaza de la Cultura. The entrance fee is around $10 for foreigners (or $3.00 with a student ID card).
Parque Zoológico Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar Zoo) – Named after a popular South American freedom fighter, the zoo was launched in July of 1921 with the intention of offering the residents of San Jose a pleasant weekend picnic destination. The park includes a children’s discovery zone, an intriguing snake and reptile center, an eatery and a gift shop. The zoo’s wildlife species portfolio consists of a lion, jaguars, monkeys, raccoons and crocodiles, as well as an assortment of interesting tropical birds. This attraction is located in Barrio Amón and it is open all though the year (except Easter Friday), M-Sun 9:00AM – 4:30 PM. Entrance Fee, Adults 2200 colones/appx.$4.50, Children 3 – 12 years old 1500 colones/$3.00, children under 3 years of age are free, while seniors pay 1500 colones/$3.00.
El Parque de Diversiones de Costa Rica (Costa Rica’s Theme Park) – Costa Rica’s significant theme park, El Parque de Diversiones offer several attractions for kids, teenagers and adults. Pueblo Antiguo is the historical attraction of the theme park, with lots of fun for kids and adults, and a vivacious atmosphere. It has several museums and is built on the lines of the 19th century San José with the aim of recreating the city’s glorious past. The park is located at La Uruca, 2 kms West of the Hospital México. And it is open Friday through Sunday during the low season and all week long during the high season (December, January and February).
Costa Rica National Museum (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica) – The Costa Rica National Museum is housed in the ancient and breathtakingly beautiful Buena Vista Fort that was at the epicenter of the Costa Rican revolution of 1948. Some of the exhibits of the San Jose, Costa Rica National Museum are Costa Rica history, a replica of the ambiance of a typical colonial structure, Costa Rica Pre-Columbian History and exhibits comprising gold pieces with descriptions of the spiritual importance for the Costa Rica natives that created them. The Museum also stocks a huge collection of stone spheres, a cute butterfly garden and some temporary exhibits.
Costa Rica Art Museum (Museo de Arte Costarricense)- The Costa Rica Art Museum was inaugurated in 1978, and it is located in La Sabana Metroplitan Park, in the building of the former control tower of the old San Jose Airport. The exhibits comprise artifacts from the XIX century to current era including drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs. The museum also houses temporary exhibits, a sculpture garden designed by the artist Jorge Jimenez de Heredia and the aesthetic Salon Dorado (Golden Room) with a spectacular mural representing Costa Rican history from pre-Columbian age to 1940; created in 1940 by Luis Féron Parizot (1901-1998), a French artist and goldsmith.
Costa Rica Children’s Museum (Museo de los Niños Costa Rica) – The Costa Rica Children’s Museum was created in 1994, before that, the museum’s building was a prison from 1910 to 1979 when it was closed and abandoned for many years. Nowadays, this building not only is home to the Costa Rica Children’s Museum but also to the National Auditorium and the National Gallery that uses the former prison cells for the display of modern art. The Costa Rica Children’s Museum features several interactive displays where children learn while playing. Some of the most popular areas are the earthquake simulator and the inclined house. At this museum children will learn about the universe, music, coffee, nature, the earth and more.
El Chicote – Operating since the last four decades, this culinary institution has been following an impressive tradition of barbecued meats, which has turned into a much sought after dining option for locals and tourists alike. Its owner, Mr. Roberto Perez, has Spanish origins and has fastidiously kept alive the secrets of the ancient preparation, maturing and grilling of the meats. The establishment boasts of a pleasant yet no frills, relaxed atmosphere. For those who prefer to eat in the open air, there’s an informal and tiny verandah that is great for tucking into quick, light snacks on the go. Their homemade tortillas are a good try and so are the varieties of steaks. This is as much as place for an informal family dinner as for an old fashioned business lunch. Their signature dish – The “baby beef” is carefully cooked in the grill and arrives on the table still juicy and piping hot. Other than being their house special, this dish represents the fact that the recipes here have a long standing history that can be preserved and made for decades.
El Chicote Bar BQ
Tin Jo – Located in the heart of San Jose, Tin Jo’s whips up some authentic and inspiring Asian cuisine. Guests can devor their favorite dishes from China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Philippines and Japan. Their fish curry with coconut milk is quite a rage and so is the special gluten free menu. They also offer a great wine pairing recommendation for each item on the menu. Other than hefty portions,, affordable prices, a pleasant ambiance and great service, the Tin Jo scores for its use of organic and fresh local products. A good dining option for vegans and vegetarians.
De la Casa del Tornillo ,100 este, 125 norte
Reservations: 2221-7605 2257-3622
La Terrasse Restaurant – La Terrasse Restaurant is a celebrated and much sought after fine dining venue in San José. The upper crust diner recently moved to the elegant Mansion del Parque Bolivar Hotel. The restaurant decor is classy with marked with an unmistakable fine dine aura. The classy new location offers two different dining venues. There is an outdoor sitting area that features a beautiful backdrop of floral gardens and an inside dining room that is romantic and more private, perfect for couple bonding dinners and/or corporate meetings. La Terrasse is owned and operated by Chef Patricia Richer and her spouse Gerald. They have over two decades of experience in the restaurant trade and they welcome Costa Rican diners to experience and enjoy true French cuisine. The restaurant’s menu is replete with mouth watering French cuisine. The food, ambiance and service makes this an ideal venue for corporate lunches and romantic dinners alike.
La Terrasse Restaurant
Email: chef.patricia.frenchcuisine@gmail. com
8ctavo Rooftop Restaurant and Bar – 8ctavo Rooftop is a contemporary, uber cool dining venue and cocktail bar housed on the 8th floor of the swanky new Sheraton Hotel in Escazú. The look, ambiance and interiors of 8ctavo Rooftop is close to all the celebrated upper crust restaurants around the world. Rich hues, colorful and expensive textures, are created to please the discerning diner’s senses, and as one move towards the bar, diners can catch a breathtaking view of the valley of San José from the vantage point of the 8th floor rooftop with the help of the floor to ceiling windows. The 8ctavo menu concept has been the brain infuses eclectic flavors that are constantly evolving for the global traveler.
Bagelmen’s –Introduced by the Matheson family, Bagelmen’s was introduced to Costa Rica in 2000. The vision of the Costa Rica fast food restaurant chain was quick to provide costumers a fast, value for money and healthy food choice as a substitute for unhealthy and grease laden fast food. The eatery offers all this topped with their signature friendly service and a pleasant atmosphere. Their restaurants boast of touches of a trendy and modern décor that is as functional as it is effortlessly eye catching. Their food is made of high quality and fresh raw materials and contains absolutely no preservatives or added flavors/colors. The bagels are known to be fresh everyday, 100% natural and follow a secret authentic New York recipe. The Bagelmen’s chain his becoming more and more popular everyday and new locations are being added within the city through the franchisee option.
Praha Lounge and Café – Praha Restaurant and Bar is a relatively new dining offering in the Escazú area with a contemporary ambiance that has gone on to become extremely popular with the locals, especially weekends and holidays. Nestled adjacent to a bamboo hemmed river, Praha offers a striking and welcoming atmosphere. Praha features delicious fusion international cuisine in tapas style. A glorious wine menu and some freshly concocted inspiring cocktails are on offer. Since the place has a knack of getting busy really fast, it is beat to reserve a table in advance.