9 Fun-Filled Things to Do in San Jose, Costa Rica With Kids


Planning a family vacation can be tricky, especially if you have young kids. There’s much to consider, from where you’ll eat to where you’ll stay. As you plan your vacation, you’ll want to fill your itinerary with kid-friendly activities that both you and your children can enjoy.

Luckily, Costa Rica has much to offer families with kids. From exploring museums to exploring the thrill of ziplining, there’s something for everyone in this Central American Paradise. In this blog, we’ll explore nine things to do in San Jose, Costa Rica with kids to help you plan a memorable itinerary.

1. Visit the Museo de Los Niños

The Museo de Los Niños, or the San Jose Children’s Museum, is a fascinating stop for kids of all ages. It used to be a prison but has since been converted into a bright, vibrant museum packed with fascinating elements and interactive exhibits.

The historic building is hard to miss, given its remarkable stature and bright yellow paint. Inside, you’ll find a host of exhibits and activities that teach children about various subjects, from art, history, and culture to science and technology.

While much of the exhibits and activities are in Spanish, this museum is a fun way to immerse your kids in the rich culture and local language of Costa Rica. From the life-sized recreation of the classic “Operation” game that educates kids on the human body to the interactive earth and space exhibit, there’s no shortage of things to do and sights to see in this museum.

2. Enjoy a Float Down the River

A float down the river is a fun way to immerse you and your kids in the nature and wildlife native to Costa Rica. There are plenty of tours, each with different intensity levels, so there’s something for families with kids of all ages.

If you have younger kids and want to enjoy a soothing, informational paddle down the river, consider a tour that floats down the Class 1 section of the Sarapiqui River. Or, if you have adventurous kids who want an invigorating excursion down the rapids of the Pacuare River, consider a tour that takes you through its assortment of rapids and past the flanking rainforest.

There’s something for everyone, whether you want a calm ride or one that is sure to get your adrenaline flowing.

3. Visit the Butterfly Gardens

The Spirogyra Butterfly Gardens are a must-see, especially if you’re visiting with kids. The gardens are teeming with a diverse variety of butterflies that flit freely about the space. While many of the butterflies are on the smaller side, the diversity and vibrant colors make the gardens well worth a trip.

You can meander through the gardens yourself, observing the butterflies go about their day, or you can embark on a guided tour to immerse yourself in a learning experience. The gardens offer educational programs, too, so pick whatever works best for you and your family!

4. Oxigeno Human Playground

The prospect of visiting a large shopping center with kids can be daunting, especially if your kids are on the younger end, but the Oxigeno Human Playground is worth a stop. Nestled in the Heredia suburb, this sprawling shopping center has much more to offer than shops and good eats.

It boasts an assortment of things to do, including a trampoline center, climbing walls, an indoor pool, a track, a gym, and a seasonal skating rink. The trampoline center and climbing walls are often kid favorites, although the pool and skating rink are also popular for kids of all ages.

Visiting this center is a great way to help your kids burn off extra energy, whether by scaling the climbing walls or zipping around the skating rink when it’s available.

5. Sample All of the Eats

Don’t miss Costa Rica’s delectable cuisine! As you embark on your journey and enjoy all sorts of excursions, remember to stop and sample all that Costa Rica has to offer. The San Jose Mercado Central is a great place to start, as it’s teeming with countless stalls and restaurants offering an assortment of local foods.

We love the local dishes and flavors, each worth a try on your Costa Rican vacation. For example, sample gallo pinto, a mouthwatering combination of rice and black beans seasoned with aromatic spices and seasonings and served over eggs. Or try Tres Leches cake, a must-try dessert made with sponge cake soaked in three types of milk and topped with whipped cream.

There are plenty of restaurants in and around the city with kid-friendly menus. For example, Cafe Rojo has delicious local eats, including mouthwatering casado, and delicious dessert options, from carrot cake to peanut, lime, and chili cookies.

Whether you have a few picky eaters in your bunch or adventurous foodies, there’s something for everyone!

6. Visit the Arenal Volcano National Park

Spend a day in Arenal Volcano National Park (or more—there’s lots to do!). While you can embark on a self-guided tour of the park, there are also many guided tours that offer authentic, memorable experiences.

From horseback rides to hikes and waterfalls to hanging bridges, there’s plenty to do in Arenal Volcano National Park. Although the volcano is currently dormant, it’s still worth a visit!

If you’re visiting with young kids, be sure to look for the easier, kid-friendly trails for hiking. If you’re not up for hiking, horseback riding can be an excellent alternative, even for younger kids.

7. Go Ziplining

Ziplining is a favorite for kids of varying ages, especially the older ones. There are plenty of ziplining tours available in and around San Jose, each with something different to offer. While the heights can be daunting (especially if you’re scared of heights like me), many find that it’s great fun once you’re all strapped in!

As you and your kids zip down the lines, one at a time, soak in the lush jungle below and your bird’s eye view of the canopy. Some ziplines even sail over lakes or waterfalls, giving you a jaw-dropping view of the water below!

8. Cool Off in the Blue Falls

Costa Rica’s afternoons can escort in lofty temperatures, so if you need to cool off, visit the Blue Falls of Costa Rica. In the grand scheme of waterfall options in the area, these falls certainly aren’t the grandest, but they’re less crowded and undoubtedly beautiful.

The Blue Falls is a series of seven waterfalls and pools boasting stunning blue water flanked by lush foliage. The water is chilly, so be prepared for a refreshing experience, but after a morning of touring or activities, a swim in these pools and at the base of these waterfalls is a great way to cool off.

It’s important to note that these falls are just under two hours from San Jose, but if you’re looking for a fun thing to do with your kids on a hot day, it’s well worth the drive.

9. Peruse the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center

If your kiddos love animals and want to learn more about the rescue process, make sure to squeeze in a visit to the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. The animals housed here are rescued from illegal pet trades, orphaned, or unable to survive on their own in the wild.

The rescue center takes them in to give them a chance at a life they may not have had in their natural habitat, supplying them with the support and care they need to thrive. It’s an educational experience that educates kids about various animals, their habitats, and what kind of care they need to flourish in the sanctuary.

The animals residing in the sanctuary can vary from time to time, but you may see wildlife ranging from monkeys and sloths to macaws and owls. You can book tours for you and your kiddos to stroll through the sanctuary, viewing the animals rehabilitating throughout its grounds.


View of the City of San Jose Costa Rica

Sit Back and Enjoy a Hassle-Free Vacation With Caravan

Not too keen on the idea of planning the details and wading through the challenges of traveling with kids on a self-planned trip? We get it. Traveling with kids can be stressful, especially when you have to plan the details yourself, from lodgings to transportation. That’s where our guided tours come in.

At Caravan, we offer two Costa Rica tours: Costa Rica Natural Paradise and Costa Rica & Manuel Antonio. Choose the tour that best matches your preferences, book the dates that work for you, and get ready for an adventure! We welcome families with kids aged five and up, allowing you and your kids to soak up your excursions without sweating the details.

Ready to book a trip? Call 1-800-CARAVAN or 1-312-321-9800 to get started today.


Horseback Riding in Costa Rica at Samara Beach

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Costa Rica a Good Place to Travel With Kids?

Yes! Costa Rica is a great place to travel with kids, as there’s lots to see and do for families with kids of all ages. The country has a culture that caters to tourism; there are plenty of places to stay, and family-friendly activities are plentiful.

Is San Jose a Safe City for Traveling With Kids?

Costa Rica, including San Jose, is traveler and child-friendly. However, as with traveling to any city in any country, it’s important to remain alert. Keep your kids close when in public spaces, and avoid traveling with expensive items that display wealth.

What Part of Costa Rica is Best for Families?

There are plenty of places in Costa Rica with lodgings and activities geared toward families. San Jose is a great place to stay, but ultimately, the best place to visit with your family depends on what you want to see and do.

When is the Best Time to Visit Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s dry season is between December and April, while its wet season spans from May to November. September and October tend to be the country’s rainiest months of the year, so it’s best to travel during the dry season if you want to enjoy an abundance of outdoor activities.