In a private reserve bordering the Braulio Carrillo National Park , about an hour from San Jose. One of the biologically richest canopy cominities in the world.
90 minute journey in ski-lift type aerial tram, outwards though the lower level of the forest and return amongst the higher levels at 35 metres.
Each car has a naturalist guide to help you
spot wildlife and explain about the plants and life in the canopy.
We found the trip very interesting, even though we didn't spot many birds or animals.
This aerial tram was the first of its kind in the world. It was created with minimum impact on the rain forest by carrying all the building materials by hand or cable systems, and the pilons were helicoptered in by the Nigerian Air Force.
Restaurant, shop and toilets available at the site.
After the tram trip, you are taken on a guided tour of the grounds - in the pouring rain!
Although very touristy and commercial, I thoroughly enjoyed this theatrical tour.
Led by professional actors posing as plantation workers, you are guided through the whole process of coffee growing, harvesting, roasting, tasting and buying.
There is also a multimedia show, plant tour and tasting session, with the ubiquitous shopping experience at the end. Their coffee liqueur is to die for!
Established in 1916, San Jose’s zoo contains more than 300 animals and 150 species of plants. Operated by the National Park Service, it offers opportunity to view numerous species of native wildlife that are not all that easily seen in the wild, even after a week or two of walking trails through different national parks. Open 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Small admission.
Address: North on Calle 9
This train station was built by the Costa Rican government to connect San Jose to the towns of Caldera , Puntarenas and their harbors. Although not in regular service the line has recently been reopened for regular tours organized by the Tico Train Tour Corp. The train uses 1940 coaches to travel through villages offering views of jungle scenery.
Address: Avenida 20 - Calle 2
This is an orchid garden run by the University of Costa Rica. Originally a private garden run by a British orchid enthusiast, it is now open to the public.
Between February and April is the best time to visit the gardens to see most orchids in bloom.
There are over 800 species of orchids in these gardens, as well as many other plants and an arboretum
This train station was the jumping off point for the “jungle train” which connected San Jose to Moin harbor near the town of Limón. Service has been discontinued in 1991 when an earthquake destroyed more than 50 miles (80 km.) of track on the Atlantic slopes. Currently, the 1908 Victorian-style building houses the National Train Museum which contains pictures and documents from that era. Outside there is a steam engine of the Northern Railway (as the line was called before nationalization) that was brought from Philadelphia in 1939. Open 10 am to 3 pm. Small admission.
Address: Avenida 3 - Calle 21
Sarchi is Costa Rica's famous craft centre, best known for its painted ox carts. These carts are Moorish in origin and can be traced back to Spanish immigrants. Now you can find them adorning gardens of local inhabitants. You can also see them being made at a couple of cart factories.
If you would like to bring home one of the painted carts, but are worried about space in your luggage, the same painting style is also used to decorate wooden trays, plates and other souvenirs.
Many other crafts are for sale here including unpainted woodwork and leather rocking chairs.
Built in the 1930’s the roof is adorned by a figure of Santa Teresita. This church turned out to be an excellent landmark for my walking adventures. To the west the streets are grid-like and easy to navigate; to the west, not so much.
Address: Avenida 9 - Calle 29
Surrounded by high, bleak, concrete walls, the old National Liquor Factory has been turned into a complex with two theatres, three art galleries, a library and live cultural activities. There are frequent dance performances and concerts in the Teatro FANAL and the Teatro 1887. The newly named Centro Nacional de la Cultura, National Cultural Center, is administered by the Ministerio de Cultura Juventud Y Deportes, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. The main building was built in 1856 and used to distil coffee liquor. On the grounds are historical artifacts as well as some of the original equipment and machinery from the factory. Open Tue-Sat, 10 am- 5 pm. Free admission.
Address: Avenidas 5-7 - Calle 11; Next to the Parque España (Park of Spain).
Located in front of the La Merced church, this park is also referred to as Parque Merced. The park is nicely treed with palms and contains a Pre-Colombian stone sphere, the statue of former president Braulio Carillo and a fountain.
Address: Avenida 2-4 - Calle 14-16, Across from the church of La Merced
Designed in 1895, this park contains the National Monument commemorating the successful battle against the American adventurer William Walker in 1856. In fact, the park has several statues dedicated to national heroes. The park was remodeled in 2001 and is now a popular place for students and strolling lovers under its tall tropical trees.
Address: % b Avenida 1-3 - Calle 15-19
I was always encanted with the short pedestrian mall on Calle 17 that connects the National Park with the Organismo de Investigación Judicial, Court Administration buildings. There are few is any street vendors, palm trees line the street and interesting architecture lies to either side. Along the way, stop off at the Legislative Assembly (Avenida Central), the National Museum (Avenidas Central-2) and the Criminology Museum (Avenidas 6-8).
Address: Avenidas1-6 - Calle 17
You don’t have to go into the country to experience a butterfly garden, there’s one located centrally in San Jose. Located across the river from the zoo, you’ll have to swing around to the El Pueblo shopping centre and come in from the north. The garden consists of small waterfalls surrounded by orchids and heliconias with live butterflies and hummingbirds. The entire area is covered by a net ensuring that the butterflies will be there when you come to visit. Open 9 am-4 pm (except Monday). Medium admission.
Address: Across from El Pueblo towards downtown across from the zoo.
Because we were in San Jose on a Monday, the Gold Museum wasn't open. So ... what else is open on Monday. Let's go to the Jade Museum and then to the Spirogyria butterfly farm. I had the Frommer's guide which mentioned where it was and I had the lady at the tourist center show me where it was on the map. But no one had ever heard of it - maybe it is different now.
A short taxi ride later, we were dropped off in the university district behind the zoo. The garden is at 50 east, 150 south from the main entrance to "El Pueblo" shopping center. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. We had a hard time actually finding the garden entrance and wandered around quite a bit first.
We paid what I thought was an exhorbitant admission charge (something like $10 each). Then we saw a film about the butterfly life cycle (good for Bob who as an engineer didn't know any of that kind of thing) and went through the exhibition area and out into the garden. For some reason I had not expected that the gardens were covered. Inside were not only numerous butterflies but also hummingbirds.
We sat in the garden and watched the butterflies and hummingbirds and listened to the lions roaring below us at the zoo. After we had regathered our strength, we left and got a bus back to town where we had an icecream drink at Pops.
I think now there is a cafe at Spirogyria.
We arrived about mid-day on Sunday, and by the time we got to the hotel and checked in, we didn't have much time left for sightseeing. We took a cab (expensive) into San Jose to the Serpentarium at 1st Ave., 9 & 11 Streets. I figured the chances of encountering a poisonous snake were small, but I wanted to know what one would look like if I did run across a snake.
This was a VERY interesting place, and I enjoyed it very much, but then I'm not freaked about snakes. The website says: "Most notorious is the terciopelo, responsible for more than half the poisonous snakebites in Costa Rica. The menagerie also features boa constrictors, Jesus Christ lizards, poison dart frogs, iguanas, and an aquarium full of deadly sea snakes. There are also such exotic creatures as king cobras and Burmese pythons."
According to my information at the time, the serpentarium is closed Monday, but it was one of the few things open on Sunday.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:00-18:00 / Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00
Admission: Approx. US$5, per person