Home Amanda Things to do in San José, Costa Rica

Things to do in San José, Costa Rica

by Amanda La Gringa
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Costa Rica is known for its luscious rain forests, beautiful beaches, and towering volcanoes. Most tourist land at the airport in San José and take the first taxi or shuttle bus out of town and into the costal areas for their adventures and excursions. Do most tourist even think twice about exploring the capitol city of Costa Rica? Probably not…but I think you should and here are 8 great ideas of things to do in San José!

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Marvel at the National Theatre: Considered one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Costa Rica, the National Theatre is a gem in the center of the metro area. Check the performance schedule and plan a fancy night out with your partner…the price won’t take your breath away!

Take a selfie with John Lennon: You read that right! The city commissioned a bronze statue of John Lennon which is displayed in an ordinary plaza in downtown San José. Most taxi’s drivers will know where to take you, but just in case…ask for a ride to the Plaza Artigas across from La Iglesia de la Soledad and you will find John lounging on a park bench! Hey…that’s me!

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Bling out at the Precolumbian Gold Museum: A wonder of a museum! It’s insane how much gold in on display at this museo…but apart from all the bling, you can also learn a thing or two about the Pre-colombian era! If you are confused about the address, this museo is actually located in a subterranean building underneath the Plaza de la cultura in San José.

Kid around at the Museo de los NinosThis is not your typical museum! Besides looking like a castle, it is a totally interactive experience for kids…and adults who want to feel like a kid! This Museo is actually part of the Costa Rican Center of Science and Culture and is the perfect stop for families looking for a great place for their kids to run around and explore. If you are lucky enough to visit during the holiday season, check the schedule to see when if they have fireworks going on for a extra special treat!

Have a drink like a local: While Andrea and I were visiting San José, we wanted to hang out with the locals and get some quality people watching time! We asked around and the happening place-to-be on during the weekends us actually in Escazú near the big mall, Mutiplaza. We ended up actually at a Mexican restaurant, Más Tekila, that was packed with people. The later that we stayed, the shorter the dresses got and the louder the DJ played the music…and before we knew it, it went from restaurant to club! Definitely a fun place to hang out if you want to experience the Tico night life.

Wander in the Parque NacionalWhile this is called a “park,” keep in mind this is still an urban park. You can do plenty of people watching while also absorbing tons of culture. The park is dotted with myriad monuments devoted to key figures in Latin American history, including Cuban poet, essayist and revolutionary José Martí, Mexican independence figure Miguel Hidalgo and 18th-century Venezuelan poet and thinker Andrés Bello.

Fill up on local cuisine: We asked our taxi driver to take us to have the most “typical” Costa Rican food around and he didn’t disappoint! Since San José is a far cry from a tourist trap, we were actually able to enjoy a Tico restaurant without feeling too much like tourist. During our culinary adventure at La Casona Tipica, we tried the “El Casado” which is known as the most typical dish. It comes with rice, beans, maduros (fried plantains), and a meat of your choice. If you are adventurous, get the chicarón which is pork…just with a texture totally different than anything we had eaten before, so warned!

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Explore the Museo Nacional del Jade: In case you didn’t know, Costa Rica’s jade is world famous…so you better believe that this museum is impressive! El Museo de Jade displays arguably the world’s largest collection of the precious stone. So if looking at stones and jewels is your thing, then you better add this to your to-do list!

To help you plan your trip, I also found out that Vista Costa Rica actually has an iPad app to help you get the best out of your visit…whether you stay in San José or venture beyond!

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The GypsyNesters May 6, 2014 - 9:58 am

We were just in San Jose last month. Ate at La Casona Tipica and loved both the food and the vibe. Also really liked the Parque Nacional. It is a good city to just wander around, not very touristy.

Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose Review - Las Travel Blogueras May 28, 2014 - 11:17 pm

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Hitch-Hikers Handbook October 15, 2014 - 7:54 am

Great blog! Glad to have met fellow foodies 🙂 Would love to go to Costa Rica one day, looks amazing!


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