Daring adventurers will love donning the hardhat that is required to visit this awe-inspiring active volcano in central Costa Rica, but be warned that it's not always visible due to steam-and-cloud weather cover. The main crater measures almost a mile in diameter and contains an acidic lagoon. This national park is about 1.5 hours from San José and entry tickets must be booked online in advance. A visit is limited to just 20 minutes, but that's more than enough time to take in this sight and pose for photos as proof of your bravery.
Go wild at this eco-park not far from Poás Volcano that's jam-packed with sights and animals that will enthrall children: five dramatic waterfalls, a cloud and rain forest, a colorful aviary, a serpentarium, a butterfly observatory, a hummingbird garden and exhibits of adorable capuchin monkeys, prowling jungle cats and much more. Set aside many hours for these attractions and wear comfortable shoes to navigate the many steps and more than two miles of walking trails.
See more than 125 animal species and lush botanical gardens at this vast rescue center about 45 minutes outside of San José. One particularly poignant inhabitant is a Toucan named Grecia, whose top beak was hacked off by humans. The bird wears a prosthetic beak made of a material similar to that of an artificial nail; it must be replaced every six to 12 weeks when the adhesive fails. For a quick adrenaline rush, the park has several ziplines.
Courtesy of Museo of de los Ninos
San José's children's museum looks like a castle, but the colorful, turreted building is actually a former prison. More than 40 exhibits feature hands-on nature, science, technology and history displays suited for pre- and elementary-school age children. Kids can "milk" a metal cow, dig an "archeological site" and experience a simulated earthquake. Take a taxi there and back, as the building borders one of the city's less safe neighborhoods.
It might not have record-breaking roller coasters like at Six Flags, but this small, affordable amusement park on the outskirts of San José has plenty of thrilling rides for kids, tweens and adults. The water attractions, like the Splash Caribe, are particularly fun on a hot day. Make sure to check the web site before going, as the park is only open half the week.
Next up: Where to Eat