Costa Rica is one of the best places to take your family on vacation. The country provides you and your kids with lots of places to explore because of its natural attractions and diverse terrain.
You have no shortage of fun, from colorful wildlife to beautiful tropical beaches. You can reach most of these popular destinations by car.
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Plus, staying in Costa Rica is more affordable than other family vacation destinations, so you can enjoy your vacation in luxury and immerse yourself in the culture.
Here are the top family-friendly attractions in Costa Rica that will make traveling to Costa Rica with kids more memorable than ever.
1. Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is a popular place for families to visit. It has white sand beaches and rainforests, satisfying your children’s curiosity for nature. It’s one of the largest parks in the county.
You and your family will see various animal species, like sloths and exotic birds. However, one of the more popular activities is hiking.
Manuel Antonio has several hikes that bring you up close and personal to the rainforest animals.
The best part about these trails is that they connect to the park’s beaches. You can enjoy a relaxing day on the beach after a hike through the park.
2. Mistico Hanging Bridges Park
Hopefully, you and your family aren’t afraid of heights because a fun adventure awaits at Mistico Hanging Bridges Park. Its location falls between a lowland, forests, and a highland.
You can see all types of life from your view atop the bridges, including a diverse ecosystem. You’ll be overlooking a beautiful lake and other spectacular views.
Aside from the hanging bridges, you can take your kids on a hike through the forest or go on a birdwatching tour with a wildlife specialist.
You can enjoy a guided hike to the Arenal Volcano, a famous landmark. However, if you are on a tight budget, you can explore by yourselves.
3. Don Olivo Chocolate Tour
What kid doesn’t love chocolate? This two-hour tour will take you and your family through the trails between the cocoa trees.
During your tour, you can learn about the rich history and flavors of Costa Rica. You’ll also get to know some of the best products produced with cocoa varieties in volcanic soils.
Additionally, you see cocoa production while walking the trails. You’ll also tour the chocolate factory, where you can look at the final product stages. You will enjoy delicious spiced hot chocolate as well.
On a side note, the tour includes samples of papaya, apples, and sugarcane juice. This trip will certainly leave a lasting impression on your kids.
4. Guanacaste Beaches
Guanacaste is a province in Costa Rica filled with some of the best beaches in the country, and many of them are kid-friendly. Plus, a trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete without a fun day at the beach.
This beautiful country has over 800 miles of coastline.
The top beaches to guarantee family enjoyment include Ocotal, Panama, and Hermosa. You’ll find these are the best places to spend a day at the seaside since the waves are calm.
Those who enjoy surfing or want to take lessons can head to Grande, Tamarindo, and Samara beaches.
5. Baldi and Kalambu Hot Springs
Enjoy a day at the hot springs at Baldi and Kalambu. Each has kid-friendly designated areas so you can relax while the kids play within your sight.
You and the kids might also love Kalambu because it’s full of waterslides, pools, restaurants, and swim-up bars. These are some of the best attractions since your family gets relaxation and adventure in one day.
These places are fun and inexpensive, and all activities are best for kids over 5.
There are other attractions with hot springs and waterslides aside from Baldi and Kalambu. For example, the Los Lagos Hotel provides all these entertaining activities.
There is also a butterfly conservatory and nature walks to explore.
6. La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Walk through the scenic landscapes of La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It’s a nature park and animal sanctuary all in one.
You can easily spend an entire day going through lush gardens, but don’t forget the waterfalls.
This park is full of luscious beauty. It’s also packed with beginner-friendly hiking trails, so it’s easy for kids to walk along the well-paved paths.
Lots of information is provided for you throughout the park while walking along the trails. Therefore, you and your family will also learn about Costa Rican culture.
When you book a tour, your kids will receive an educational guide on the array of Costa Rican wildlife.
While you’re there, remember to keep your eyes peeled for sloths, monkeys, frogs, and jungle cats. You’ll also have a chance to see a butterfly garden.
After your tour, you and your family can enjoy a meal at Trout Lake.
7. La Fortuna Waterfall
Go for a swim at one of Costa Rica’s most stunning locations, La Fortuna Waterfall. You and your family can have a fun picnic, take pictures and dip into crystal clear waters.
This place is ideal for visitors of all ages. You’ll get to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the waterfall.
You can book a guided hike if you wish. The trail goes through a forest and pasture, so there’s lots of wildlife to see along the way.
Other pools nearby offer the same experience if the waterfall is too crowded. Your children will enjoy splashing in the water and soaking up all that nature provides.
8. Ecoglide Arenal Park
Experience a treetop adventure by zip-lining at Ecoglide Arenal Park. The park is in San Carlos, a family-friendly destination that will appeal to adventurous children.
The outdoor activity center provides a double-cable system for zip lines alongside free-falling experiences. These activities are suitable for kids over 5 years old, and you can rest assured knowing your children are in safe hands.
Consider booking a canopy tour that conquers various platforms located within the trees. Your guides will be able to explain everything before taking action.
In the end, you get to enjoy a complimentary drink. You can also get professional photos documenting your adventures.
Things to Consider To Vacation in Costa Rica with Kids
There are a few things to consider when planning a vacation in Costa Rica with kids. Although the country is only the size of West Virginia, many of the most popular destinations are in different regions of the country.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for planning your Costa Rican vacation.
Costa Rica may seem like a small country, but avoid counting on driving to several destinations. Traveling on the roads can be slow, and they’re nothing like you may be used to in the U.S.
Most roads don’t maintain shoulders, and sometimes cars park in the middle of the streets.
You’ll also find various people, cyclists, and pets meandering the roads, paying little attention to traffic. Therefore, you may consider hiring a driver to take you to your destination. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting directions, either.
Many people recommend you go to a Soda, a casual restaurant that’s typically run out of someone’s home. You get open-air dining with authentic foods. Plus, they’re more affordable than many of the restaurants that tourists go to enjoy.
The menus are basic, but the quality of the food is amazing. After all, you get a true taste of Costa Rican cuisine.
Getting to Costa Rica
Costa Rica has two international airports — San Jose and Liberia.
La Fortuna is approximately three hours away from the airports. However, Guanacaste beaches are on the Pacific coast, which is closer to Liberia.
Meanwhile, Manuel Antonio and the Caribbean coast are easier to reach from the San Jose airport.
Before you travel, consider booking an all-inclusive resort. Doing so will make it easier and provide even more kid-friendly activities to accommodate your family.
Plus, each of you can plan your favorite activities with ease.
Planning an Itinerary
Try to keep things simple when planning your itineraries. Most tourist attractions in Costa Rica are spread throughout the country, so you could find yourself driving to a destination at least 2-3 hours away.
Remember to pack plenty of water and snacks. Many of the activities listed above involve exercise and being outside in the heat. Make sure you and your children stay hydrated and wear sunscreen during any outdoor activities.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when planning your itinerary:
- Familiarize yourself with the climate. The average temperature on the coasts is 80-90 degrees, so be sure to pack warm weather clothes.
- Determine your family’s capabilities. Ziplining at the Ecoglide Arenal Park may not be suitable for families with toddlers, while a chocolate tour might appeal to all ages.
- Everything looks closer on a map. If you think it will take you an hour to get to your destination, double it. Give yourself plenty of time.
- Know the safety considerations. The U.S. government advises exercising increased caution while traveling in Costa Rica, with specific guidance to be aware of petty theft, especially if you plan to rent a car.
Enjoy Your Time in Costa Rica with Kids
There is so much to do in Costa Rica with kids. There are fun activities, from national parks to relaxing beaches, just waiting to be explored.
Make plans ahead of time to enjoy an unforgettable getaway your family will remember for years to come.