Costa Rica has everything a kid could want – adventure, wildlife, beaches, jungles, and more. The small Central American country is a popular family vacation destination and only a short flight from the US. If you are heading to Costa Rica with kids, you will have a great selection of places to visit that are both interesting and more importantly, kid-friendly.
For a two week itinerary, you will most likely have to start off with a short stop in the capital of San José, since it has the country’s main airport. The city is nice but for a short trip to Costa Rica, you don’t really want to spend more than a night here. Fly in, check out the city, grab your rental car and head out to Costa Rica’s lush countryside.
First stop, a must on any family vacation to Costa Rica, will be the Arenal area. Consisting of the Arenal National Park and the small town of La Fortuna, this region is famous for volcanic activity and adventure sports. You can’t miss the Arenal volcano, rising out of the surrounding jungle. Besides hiking around the volcano, you can also visit the local hot springs or take a cooling plunge at the La Fortuna Waterfall, though keep in mind that both activities are more geared to older children.
If you are looking for a bit more action, check out the adventure companies around Arenal. Kids will love the jungle zip lining and older kids can even sign up for water rafting. Younger kids will enjoy the jungle walks and canopy tours where you can spot tropical birds and maybe even a howler monkey.
After a few days in Arenal, head for Monteverde. Here the main attraction is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. There is nothing like literally driving into the clouds and kids will love all the animals and nature here. Highlights around Monteverde include the Butterfly Garden, the Hummingbird Gallery, and for the braver kids there is even a “Bat Jungle” exhibit.
The area is more laid back that Arenal, making it a good option for families with young children, though reaching the reserve does involve an extra half day of driving on windy mountain roads. The Reserve is very educational and there are dozens of exhibits and gardens where kids can get up close and personal with the wildlife of Costa Rica.
A vacation to Costa Rica really wouldn’t be complete without at least sometime spent at the beach. The small country has gorgeous beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts but one of the best options for families would be the Manuel Antonio area. Here you will have the perfect mix of white, sand beaches and lush, green jungles.
The beaches here aren’t just great, they are some of the best in the world. Playa Espadilla was even voted the best beach in all of Central America. While everyone loves a good beach, kids will also love the fact that the jungle here literally runs straight into the sand, making for easy jungle hikes and a chance to spot monkeys, lizards, birds, and even sloths. Manuel Antonio is also a popular area for ziplining and if your kids are interested, they can sign up for surfing lessons.