Wild animals, active volcanoes, rainforests, beaches—what kid wouldn’t love Costa Rica? Parents are guaranteed a good time as well and will appreciate the country’s myriad kid-friendly adventure possibilities as well as a culture that dotes on children.

  • Sights & Activities

Families could go just about anywhere in Costa Rica and be perfectly happy. Even San José, while not a remarkable city, has sights for children—but it’s best to get out of town and into the countryside. Here are some top choices for families:

-Ziplining through Monteverde’s foresty canopy. Try tour operators like the Original Canopy Tour.
-Watching groups of olive ridley turtles lay their eggs at night at Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Ostional
-Learning to surf at Mal País and Santa Teresa. Check out Jobbie’s Surf Camp for individual or group lessons for all experience levels.
-White water rafting on the Río Reventazón or Río Pacuare. Both rivers have sections with smoother runs that are perfect for families. Children must be at least 9 years old, and even older for tougher runs.
-Join the discussion on the Thorn Tree forum for help choosing an operator.
-Spotting basking crocodiles while exploring the jungle rivers of Tortuguero.

  • Eating

Costa Rican cuisine is simple and hearty and somewhat bland (beans and rice and grilled chicken or steak are omnipresent), making it acceptable for even the most finicky kids.

-Special kid’s meals are not normally offered in restaurants, though some fancy lodges do them. However, most local eateries will accommodate two children splitting a meal or can produce child-size portions on request.
-If you’re traveling with an infant, stock up on formula and baby food before heading to remote areas
-Always carry snacks for long drives in remote areas—sometimes there are no places to stop for a bite
-Tired of juice and water? Here are some kid-friendly local drinks: batidos (fresh-blended fruit), either al agua (made with water) or con leche (with milk); coconut milk (sipped through a straw straight from the cracked-open coconut); horchata (cinnamon-spiked rice milk).

  • Sleeping

From plush jungle eco-lodges to kid-friendly beachside jungle tents, you can find the accommodation your family needs pretty much anywhere tourists go. Most midrange and top-end hotels have reduced rates for children under 12, provided the child shares a room with parents. Top-end hotels will provide cribs and usually have activities for children. Here are some of our favorite places to stay with kids:

-In Monteverde & Santa Elena, milk cows and chase monkeys at the Finca Terra Viva or relax in a cozy chalet at the Swiss Hotel Miramontes.
-On the Península de Nicoya, enjoy the garden oasis Tico Adventure Lodge or swim in the turtle-shaped pool at Hotel Las Tortugas.
-In Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean Coast, enjoy the phenomenal architecture at Tree House Lodge.
-For more family-friendly hotel listings across the country, check out Lonely Planet’s hotel listings for Costa Rica.

  • Tips & resources

-If you’re traveling with an infant, bring disposable diapers, baby creams, baby aspirin and thermometer from home, or else stock up while in San José.

By Lonely Planet

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