La Garita, Alajuela

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The small towns and cities across Costa Rica offer a unique experience for travelers to dive deep into the culture. Large tourist attractions, national parks and nature preserves are the reason why individuals come to Costa Rica, but filling afternoons in family-friendly communities like La Garita complete the trip.

Located about 30 minutes from the San Jose International (Juan Santamaria) Airport, La Garita lacks the hustle and bustle of cities like San Jose, which is why it is considered a top travel getaway for locals as well. Those with a rental car can easily access the town by taking the Recope exit on the highway going toward San Ramon. This town is dotted with traditional restaurants that offer local cuisine, several nurseries and an animal rescue center.

Zoo Ave

This small park is a rehabilitation and breeding center for animals in the region. Housing various kinds of animals such as large cats, monkeys, reptiles and birds, Zoo Ave is the perfect location for families to get an in depth look at nature in a safe environment. There are more than 130 animal species native to Costa Rica in the park. The zoo's mission is to breed endemic species at risk of extinction, and reintroduce them back into the wild. The learning center is designed so travelers don't miss out on anything while they walk along the path, and it offers plenty of shade to hide from the hot Costa Rican sun.

Botanical Orchid Garden

More than 30 years ago, the Botanical Orchid Garden was created in the spot of a former coffee plantation where several native trees were preserved. Nearly 100 percent of the orchids in the garden were laboratory-made, and then added to the outdoor garden because orchids tend to settle within trees in their habitat. Over time, this created a stunning, colorful garden that is home to a variety of flora and fauna typically found in a tropical dry forest. This park also boasts water gardens with koi fish and turtles, as well as the laboratory where orchids are bred and conserve particular species and traits of each flower.

January, February and March have the highest number of flowers, although there is brightly colored flora throughout the year. The walking trails are the most visually stunning aspect of the park with various tropical plants, trees, exotic birds and vibrant flowers.