Welcome to Costa Rica! This may be one of the best places to travel with children, but it still helps to know where to stay, what to do, or simply whats around where for your kids, especially when driving long distances. You deserve a vacation as well as a trip – 2 very different things.
This will be an on-going list as we stay at more places and visit more great parts of Costa Rica while we live here. I am also part of several groups here on families in Costa Rica so if you don’t see what you are looking for in a particular area, I can ask everyone and see if they have suggestions, These are closed groups that the general public does not normally have access to. Our children are 4, 6 and 12 – but we moved here over a year ago and have been adventuring through Costa Rica with out first since she was 11 months old. Enjoy!
San Jose – The Capital City
Holiday Inn Aurola – by far the best place we have stayed so far in San Jose- you can walk anywhere in the capital, all the museums, some playgrounds (which I may be able to map out for you later), restaurants, you name it. AND IT HAS AN INDOOR POOL!!!!!! Awesome gym with all new equipment for parents who are interested, gorgeous views from the upper floors, VERY comfortable beds and pillows. Bathtubs! Most places in Costa Rica do not have bathtubs.
Free Breakfast (great)
Indoor Pool (great)Gym (Great)
2 restaurants and a casino – (soso)
Closer to SJO – Doubletree Cariari
Bathtubs in rooms, nice big pool, homemade hot chocolate chip cookies when you arrive – really the best things is the pool – but not during the rainy season because its not heated.
Pool (Great, when hot outside)
Restaurants (great, good service)
Pool Table (really nice but Bring chalk!)
Near Sabana Park
Great folks run this place, and though its not a brand new 5 star hotel – they are little apartments, kind of of like a beach bungalow, and a pool in the center with the hotel around it so you feel VERY safe with the kids. And you ahve a living and full kitchen and right across the street from the famous Central park of the city – La Sabana. I honestly don’t remember if there was a bathtub or not – its been a while since we stayed here but we keep referring people and they keep giving it rave reviews. Even a coin-up washer and dryer!
La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano)
If you don’t visit the Tree Houses Hotel with your kids, why bother being a parent?!?!?!? http://www.treehouseshotelcostarica.com Its on a road loop that starts before La Fortuna, and gives you a bit of a drive (maybe 25 minutes) to the main attractions like the the park and the different hotsprings, but its a great experience. San Carlos, Costa Rica
Los Lagos – really our favorite with kids because of all the different temperature pools, great water slide, swim up bars and restaurants, massage chairs in the water! Plus horseback riding at the hotel, really nice folks who work here, a gift shop that is NOT overpriced, and just a great one-stop shop all around. Plus great views since it is almost at the base of the volcano. Stay at the hotel and the pools are free.
With a children’s play area and many water slides, this is our other favorite. More jungle atmosphere with lots of rain cover and tons of pools. Everything is great for rain or shine. Nice Spa and plenty for everyone to do.
Costa Verde, stay in the houses with the family and feel like you have your own private pool. Monkeys all over, gorgeous views, shuttle at night to their airplane restaurant up the road! Showers, no bathtubs.
Great little apartments right on the beach and an old school tico concrete pool right next to the beach. Can drive up to the hotel, and walk through the gate to the beach. But locked from the beachside coming in so it is safe. Great budget friendly option – don’t need a car since the local bus from Quepos stops along the road. Little book store for used books and bottled drinks at front desk. Ask for a room on the bottom floor so kids can play outside the door in the gardens if you need some time to get ready and they are on top of you inside. Showers, no bathtubs that we know of.
Hotel Fonda Vela – really nice, stay in one of the older rooms that open onto to grounds so kids can run around outside. Fountain to play around, seating table and chairs.
Wifi at front desk, not so great at room
Pool with roof, though not indoors2 big hottubs
nice restaurant on site
RIGHT at entrance (2 kms?) to Monteverde Cloud Forest, and about a 3 minutes drive to Children’s Eternal Rainforest and then to Santa Elena and town with the other Cloud Forest.
Not a 5 start hotel and casino, but a fantastic beach hotel – clean, tvs, showers, close to everything, free parking and right on the beach! cabinas for rent or just take the rooms. we like the rooms all the way up front to the right (111-113? i think..) they have sliding doors that open right onto the sandy area, then a white fence, then the beach, so kids can play in sand right outside the room, but with the fence separating them from the beach. A/C and lock box too. At night, if you are lucky, you can see the lightning storms over the pacific way out by just sitting in your chairs outside.
3 pools, 1 children’s (1-2 feet deep)
playsets and playhouseshammocks
game room with pool table, pingpong and smoothie bar
great tiki bar with food for snacks or lunch on beach
San Ramon, Alajuela
Just 45 minutes from the airport, no reason to spend your first few or last few nights anywhere else. A great tico town that will really give you the flavor of Costa Rica – something not to be missed with your children,and close to may of our smaller cultural attractions, normally outstages by the beaches and larger attractions.
Our B&B, Vista Valverde, or course is the best place to stay with your kids! But not just for the views, trampoline, swingset, farms and pinas (and babysitting!)… but for what is near us as well. Day trip to Sarchi, where our famous oxcart factories will show you how the antinal symbols are made and painted, right before your very eyes. Visit the Botanical Gardens in Sarchi and enjoy strolling through acres of gorgeous gardens and play areas, and take snacks! Thinking of taking home one of those great wood and leather rocking chairs? This is the place to do it – and they send it right to your home if you choose!
Visit Zarcero and the amazing topiary gardens and gorgeous church, enjoy watching the kids as they run around and play hide and seek! Eat at a local soda and have a Casado for about $5.
Head to La Paz, our local San Ramon La Paz, and go horseback riding to our waterfall, or for the younger ones, just a half hour guided pace..then fish for your own lunch in the trout pools! They cook it for you an everything! Have a few beers and enjoy a tico style afternoon as the kdis paly on the swingsets outside the open air rancho restaurant.
The is a great place to start or end your vacation. There is so much more to Costa Rica than beaches and yoga, or the big tourist areas – treat your family to our culture and a little of our lifestyle.