As the second largest province in Costa Rica, Alajuela is home to a vast variety of both man-made and natural attractions. The province is the site of one of the most pristine mountain ranges, the Cordillera Central range, in addition to several volcanic national parks. Travelers seeking a cultural experience will also enjoy this region, as it is home to Alajuela, a laid-back metro area located just outside of San Jose. Sitting on a gentle slope, Alajuela is also slightly warmer and smaller than the neighboring capital. Best of all, Alajuela is home to Juan Santamaria International Airport, which provides flights to a number of domestic and international destinations. The airport makes it easier for travelers to get to and from the most remote of travel destinations.
The small urban center of Alajuela often serves as a base for many travelers in the area. Boasting many lodging and dining options, the city is ideally located within arm's reach of the province's top attractions, and features many group tours and cultural amenities. There is a movie theater, shopping mall and cafes as well as one of the largest farmers markets in the country. Every Saturday morning, locals and visitors gather to purchase fresh produce, handcrafted items and listen to local music. It's a great way for people to experience the true Tico lifestyle.
Zoo AveHome to a variety of wildcats, monkeys and other native Costa Rican fauna, Zoo Ave is most well known for housing more than 100 different species of vibrant birds. This animal park is always lively, with feathers, scales and fur all heightened by the beautiful music of each species' unique voice. While Zoo Ave is a great place to learn more about native Costa Rican wildlife, the park's main mission is to breed animals that can be reintroduced into the wild. With such a great mission, you know your admission fee is going toward something worthwhile!
Arenal Volcano National ParkAs one of the most beautiful parts of the Costa Rican landscape, the Arenal Volcano, is an ideal spot for any traveler to visit. Its symmetrical shape makes it a true sight to see, while the storied history of the volcano has kept it at the top of traveler's lists for decades. Horseback riding, hiking and wildlife viewing are all available here. In addition, the area offers opportunities to go white water rafting down the Toro River, take a dip in one of the several hot springs, or go on an exciting canopy tour or a trek across hanging bridges. Less adventurous travelers can get a sprawling view along a sky tram canopy tour or go for a horseback ride to the stunning La Fortuna waterfall.
Poas Volcano may not be as sought-after of a traveler destination as the Arenal, but this towering volcano is just as magnificent. Stretching up 8,885 feet tall, Poas is one of the most active volcanoes in the country. The raid-fed main crater is nearly a mile in diameter and descends nearly 1,000 feet. Besides the area around the main crater, the park features dense vegetation and is a great place for travelers to catch a glimpse of native wildlife. There are also several different life zones, including a cloud and mountain rain forest.
Doka EstateNoted for its unbelievable coffee, the Doka Estate is a must-see for any caffeine fiend. The coffee tour takes visitors through the process from seed to cup and teaches all coffee lovers about the entire production process . The family-owned coffee plantation began in the 1940s, and the family has perfected the craft of making the perfect cup of Joe. At the end of the tour, visitors will get to taste the rich blends that they learned about along the way.