Today, we bring you a step closer to the beautiful Costa Rican culture with our discussion of the diverse cultural activities you can partake in and the varied forms of entertainment you can enjoy year round. Costa Rica offers a wide range of cultural activities that rival those in the U.S. and Europe. You will find here some of the world's finest museums, art galleries, and theaters.
When you come to Costa Rica in the rainy season, it's best to spend your afternoons visiting Costa Rica's museums to avoid the afternoon rain showers. For $3, you can visit one of Costa Rica's most famous museums, The Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) located in downtown San José under the Plaza de la Cultura Park. It is famous for being home to thousands of invaluable, unique pieces of pre-Colombian gold, which date from 500 B.C. to 1600 A.D. The lighting in the museum is excellent, and the description of each gold piece is clear and available in both Spanish and English.
Another museum to visit is The Museum of Numismatics (Museo de Numismática), which houses more than 4,000 unique items including the early Costa Rican coins, bills, and financial documents, all displayed elegantly and beautifully.
An excellent spot for cultural and family entertainment is The Children's Museum (Museo de los Niños) located just north of downtown San José. You can take your family and children there to see the colorful exhibits at display.
Other museums you should consider visiting are: Museum of Art and Contemporary Design (Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo) - located in Barrio Amón, San José, -, The National Museum (Museo Nacional) - located in San José, Barrio La California, -, Costa Rica Museum of Art (Museo de Arte Costarricense) - located in Sabana Este, San José, -, and The National Archives (Archivo Nacional) - located in Barrio Pinto, between Zapote and Curridabat.
There are also snake museums that you can go to, one of which is The World of Snakes (Serpentario El Mundo de las Serpientes), an open-air snake exhibition that is located near the Red Metal Church in Grecia, where we live, and hosts snakes from all over the world. Serpentario Monteverde Costa Rica is another snake museum worth checking out that is located in Santa Elena, Monteverde, and offers guided tours all day long. A side note on the snake population is that they do not venture to El Cajon, because the elevation of our land is over 5,000 ft. and they are not known to thrive in the cool temperatures above 4,500 ft.
Not a museum person? No problem! If you're interested in ecology and bio-diversity, then you should visit Costa Rica's Earth University and INBioparque, the latter of which is a theme park that offers interactive experiences with nature with daily trips and tours and is located in Santo Domingo de Heredia. Another spot worth checking out is Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge, an 815-acre national wildlife preserve located on the Southern Pacific Coast near Dominical that is ideal for bird watching and eco-tours.
And if you really are into bird watching, you can be sure that Costa Rica is the right place for you. Costa Rica is famous for its diverse environmental conditions and factors, a reason why Costa Rica is home to over 850 species of birds (more than those in the United States and Canada combined). Eco-tourists and bird-watching enthusiasts come to Costa Rica from all over the world to watch and study the diverse species of birds. Bird watching is definitely an excellent way to spend both your early mornings and late afternoons here.
Selva Verde Lodge is a world-renowned bird sanctuary that is literally an eco-tourist dream with exotic bird watching, white water rafting, and very inexpensive tours of their property, which in itself is a botanical garden where you will likely see iguanas, sloths, and the list goes on and on. Their noon time buffet is also quite an over indulgence! We've been there 4 or more times and look forward to our next visit.
You can also go to Zoo Ave, a stunning zoo and a wildlife rescue center for injured wildlife located in La Garita, 30 minutes from San José. It is home to more than 100 Costa Rican bird species (the largest bird collection in Central America) including toucans, cranes, curassows, and parrots and is one of only two zoos in the world to display the splendid quetzals. Besides its huge bird collection, Zoo Ave houses numerous crocodiles, deer, turtles, ostriches, tapirs, peccaries, pumas, and indigenous monkeys. The price of admission is $15 for adult tourists.
If you enjoy fishing, then you should be in Costa Rica! Fishing tours and inland fishing trips are widely available and freshwater angling, fly fishing, eco-fishing, and whale watching are extremely popular here in Costa Rica. The prices of fishing trips vary widely with the highest prices paid in the tourist areas. If you go on fishing trips away from the tourist areas, you'll save a lot of money.
And here is another activity you can enjoy in Costa Rica: surfing. Surfers from all over the world come here to venture into the Costa Rican water. If you're just a beginner interested in surfing, you can go to any of Costa Rica's excellent surf camps and schools. And when you're better equipped, you can surf in Playa Hermosa, arguably one of the most popular surfing locations in Costa Rica. Other surfing locations to consider are Playa Dominical, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Nosara, Salsa Brava, Pavones, Playa Jacó (the closest surfing location to Grecia and San José), and Malpais.
You can also choose to go to the different types of spas available in Costa Rica. You can choose to go to a Report Spa if you want to enjoy a wide range of recreational activities, including golf, tennis, horseback riding, skiing, and dancing, in addition to a renewing spa experience. You can also choose to go to a Day Spa if you're busy and want to enjoy a spa that is designed to provide a relaxing and pampering experience that takes from as little as an hour to a whole day.
Up for some after-dark, nighttime entertainment? Dining out, dancing, and going to concerts, fairs, and movies are all available options. In the Central Valley, you will find excellent eateries serving some of the most delicious meals at very affordable prices. You can have Costa Rican food, Peruvian food, Italian food, French food, Chinese food, and Mexican food. Plus, you have a 100% chance of finding the large American restaurant chains here like T.G.I. Friday's, Tony Roma's, McDonald's, etc. And a real live Hagen Daz for the sweet tooth is available in Escazu.
Late-night dancing in Costa Rica is a very popular way to spend your nights, as Ticos love to dance. If you're into dancing but don't know how to dance, you can start taking dance lessons here in Costa Rica at very low prices. You can also go to concerts and watch world-class artists, live weekend bands, and Flamenco dancers from Spain perform. Going to fairs should also be on your top to-do list - the bullfights and street dances are a joy to behold.
You can also choose to spend your night watching a movie at the theater, something we used to do almost every week until we found you can rent first-run movies the same time they are released in the States. Still, movie-goers can watch first-run movies in the state-of-the-art theater here in Grecia the same day they are released in the States for $3 only, and they are all in English with Spanish subtitles.
Looking for a more sophisticated way to spend your evenings? The National Theatre (Teatro Nacional), located in the central section of San José, has a breathtaking symphony hall, where shows are scheduled throughout the year and world-famous artists and orchestras perform some of the most spectacular symphonies. Entering the theater and enjoying guided tours there are free, so just enjoy!
The Theater Melico Salazar (Teatro Popular Melico Salazar), located in Central San José on Paseo Colon, is also an important center for culture in Costa Rica. A wide variety of shows and performances is scheduled throughout the year including live theatre, art, and music.