Costa Rica is noted for many things: its lush landscape, picture-perfect beaches, abundant wildlife. But somehow, the capital city San Jose rarely makes it to the top of a visitor’s to-do list. Whether you’re just stopping over on your way to Blue Osa — or if you’re using the city as a central base of operation to take in a range of experiences — here are five reasons San Jose, Costa Rica day trips should be included in your plans:
1. The Toucan Rescue Ranch
Just 20 minutes outside of the city, this wildlife refuge and rehabilitation center day trip is home to over 130 birds and dozens of animals—toucans, sloths, monkeys and more. Learn the stories of each of the rescued toucans and how they’ve been cared for here. Tours at The Toucan Rescue Ranch are offered on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. with reservations. For a more in-depth experience, have breakfast with the babies! You’ll enjoy a full breakfast as the baby animals are fed, followed by a complete ranch tour.
Or, if you’re the creative type, come with your camera or sketchbook in hand and we’ll give you up-close access to sloths in their climbing trees and toucans in the aviary.
When planning your day trips in San Jose, please remember all programs require advance reservations and prices vary.
2. University for Peace Park
You definitely want to include Peace Park in your days trips! Just 30 kilometers southwest of San Jose, the UPEACE Park offers a respite that feels worlds away. This protected forest land is rich in plant and animal life—monkeys, deer, reptiles and over 300 species of birds. There are also picnic areas, lakes, playgrounds, soccer fields and volleyball courts.
Hiking trails allow you to take in the Central Valley scenery; 45-minute guided tours are available by reservation at [email protected].
Public park hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
3. National Jade Museum
Boasting a stunning new 75,000 square foot space, San Jose’s National Jade Museum houses the largest collection of pre-Columbian artifacts anywhere.
Exhibits showcase jade and ceramics dating to 500 BC, offering an incomparable glimpse into pre-Columbian culture—and the high-tech interactive touches throughout will keep even the the most active young visitors entertained. Hours are 8:30-3:30 Monday-Friday and 10:00-2:00 Saturdays.
4. Parque Morazan
You don’t need to go far to shift your perspective; in fact, there’s nothing like an old-fashioned city park to refresh your spirit. Parque Morazan in San Jose is just that—located within walking distance of the Jade Museum on 3rd Avenue. It’s not unusual to see jugglers and musicians congregated here in the midst of fountains, statuary and lively street art. The neighborhood boasts Victorian architecture.
5. Monteverde Cheese Factory
It may surprise you to learn that not far from San Jose (about a four-hour drive), in the heart of the Tilaran Mountain Range in Monteverde, lies a Quaker settlement dating to the 1950’s. The Quakers founded the Monteverde Cheese Factory in 1953 and became the first to produce pasteurized cheese in Costa Rica.
Today their enterprise is the country’s second largest cheese maker, with over 20 different varieties to their credit. A factory tour offers you a look at the history of the settlement and the cheese making process—and, of course, the chance to sample the goods! Tours are offered at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. While you’re in the area, you might also get your fill of the things Costa Rica is better known for—canopy tours, horseback riding and more. Get details on all of it at monteverdeinfo.com.
When planning your getaway to Costa Rica, don’t go strictly by the guidebook to discover what to do in Costa Rica. A stop in San Jose on your way to and from Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa can be so much more than just the place you catch your next flight.
Have you visited San Jose, Costa Rica?
What suggestions do you have for day trips in the capital city?
About the Author
When photographer/writer Leah Wyman found herself in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, she left her job in the church world for the sanctuary that is Blue Osa. A classical singer, composer and conductor with a B.M. degree from Manhattan School of Music and further studies at the University of Oxford in England, Leah is finding inspiring new ways to use her voice–in harmony with howler monkeys, scarlet macaws and crashing ocean waves at Blue Osa.