12 hotels in this place
San José is the capital of Costa Rica.
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Points of Interest
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Points of Interest in Escazu
- Museo de Oro Precolombino (The Gold Museum), ☎ 2243-4202, e-mail: email@example.com. An underground museum below Plaza de la Cultura. Tu-Su 10AM-4:30PM. Entrance fee $9 for foreigners (or $4.5 with a student ID card). The collection consists of 1600 pieces of Pre-Columbian gold work dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD. Information is given on the processing and making of the pieces as well as their social, cultural and religious meanings. At the same place you will also find The Numismatic Museum and The Temporary Exhibition Galleries, which are also included in the entrance fee. There is a nice museum shop and a tourist office at the entrance.
- Museo del Jade (The Jade Museum), ☎ 2287-6034. Avenida 7-9, Calle 9-11 bis, Instituto Nacional de Seguros. M-F 8:30AM-3:30PM, SA:9AM to 1PM. Entrance: USD $9. The largest collection of precolumbian Jade in America. Furthermore they show how Jade was elaborated in the precolumbian aera. They offer a variety of other objects made of stones, bones, ceramics, shells. Moreover you get an insight in the daily life of the people in the precolumbian era. If you only have time for visiting one museum and interested in precolumbian, this is the recommended choice, it is small, easy to get in, very representative of the many materials used and geographic zones habited before the European contact.
- Museo de los Niños (The children's museum), Antigua Penitenciaría (the old prison). Tel. 258-4929. M-F 9:30AM-3:30PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4PM. Entrance fee 600 Colones for adults and 300 for children. This is an edutainment museum, and it was designed for Costa Rica's children, all the exhibits are in Spanish only. Not recommended as a visit, except when the Auditorio Nacional is hosting a concert or art gallery.
- Museo Nacional, Calle 17 Avenida 2. Tel 257-1433. Tu-Su 8:30AM-4:30PM. Entrance fee 2000 Colones. The museum includes a large butterfly garden (With many morpho butterflies) and a collection of large stone spheres from the Diquis Valley near the Pacific Ocean, a permanent precolumbian exhibition, the barracks, the rooms of the army general and his family, and a couple of temporal exhibits at the time. The museum building is an old fort called Cuartel Bellavista, in this place the Army was symbolically abolished by then president Jose Figueres Ferrer on December 1st, 1948 after the last civil war and armed conflict in the country.
- Museo de Arte Costarricense, east end of Sabana Park. This used to be San Jose's main airport terminal back when La Sabana was the airport. Tel 222-7155. Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00, Su 10:00-14:00. Entrance fee $5 (students $3).
- Insect Museum at the Universidad de Costa Rica A very elegant collection of exotic bugs. Only a few dollars, but check the times when they are open.
- Museo de arte y diseño contemporáneo (MADC) Definitely the main institution in Costa Rica dedicated to the broadcasting of contemporary art. Centro Nacional de la Cultura, Antigua Fábrica Nacional de Licores. Avenida 3, calle 15/17. San José, Costa Rica. Tel: (506) 2257 7202 / 2257 9370 Fax: (506) 2257 8702. Info related to current exhibitions, schedules and admission fees can be found at their oficial website www.madc.ac.cr.
- Zoológico Simón Bolivar An almost hidden zoo in Barrio Amón, some of the most representative animals are available in this small zoo. There are many big cats, including a non native lion, the serpentarium is one of the most interesting spots, with colorful (and dangerous) snakes available.
Costa Rica constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949 (using the money instead to fund the school system and other social projects), and reformed the police force (which was separated into loose divisions such as a 'rural guard') into what it is today.
The Climate in San Jose Costa Rica can be different at all times depending of the route of the winds and yearly seasons, some times in the later months of the year it is colder than the months at the middle. For many Costa Ricans the coolest temperatures in San Jose are equal to high (warm) temperatures for a Northern American Citizen or some one from a country with a snow season. When you view the size of Costa Rica, then you can understand why weather temperatures differ from one city to another across short distances, unless the Caribbean weather suffers a major event in the atmosphere. Because of its elevation San Jose is usually 70 to 80°F (21 to 27°C) though it can get chilly at night. The rainy season is from mid April through December.
Costa Rica is located on the Central American isthmus, lying between latitudes 8° and 12°N, and longitudes 82° and 86°W. It has a total of 1,290 kilometers (800 mi) of coastline, 212 km (132 mi) on the Caribbean coast and 1,016 km (631 mi) on the Pacific.
Costa Rica also borders Nicaragua to the north (309 km or 192 mi of border) and Panama to the south-southeast (639 km or 397 mi of border). In total, Costa Rica comprises 51,100 square kilometers (19,700 sq mi) plus 589 square kilometers (227 sq mi) of territorial waters.
The highest point in the country is Cerro Chirripó, at 3,819 metres (12,530 ft); it is the fifth highest peak in Central America. The highest volcano in the country is the Irazú Volcano (3,431 m or 11,257 ft). The largest lake in Costa Rica is Lake Arenal.
Costa Rica also comprises several islands. Cocos Island (24 square kilometers / 9.3 square miles) stands out because of its distance from the continental landmass, 300 mi (480 km) from Puntarenas, but Calero Island is the largest island of the country (151.6 square kilometers / 58.5 square miles).
Near 25% of Costa Rica's national territory is protected by SINAC (the National System of Conservation Areas), which oversees all of the country's protected areas.
The main downtown area is a bustling collection of well-laid out streets filled with bustling traffic and lined with eclectic, historic architecture. On the surface it is a gritty downtown area, but look inside and you'll find friendly people, quirky spots, and the historic side of San Jose that change your impression. A walking tour is the best way to see this area.
- Costa Rica Golf Day Tours (Tours to Valle del Sol, Cariari and Marriott Los Suenos), ☎ (732) 917-0177. 7AM-4PM. Valle del Sol:$110, Cariari $110, Marriott Los Suenos: $225. All prices include hotel pickup and green fees.
There are a lot of other tours and local events and doings in and from San José. Some include:
- 3 in One
- Butterfly farm
- Coffee farm
- Canopy tours
- Rafting* Rios Tropicales (Whitewater tours from San Jose and other areas of Costa Rica).
- Buses to volcano Poas leave from Parque La Merced at 08:30AM daily (2990 colones).
- Buses to volcano Irazú leave at 8AM daily on Av. 2 in front of the National Theater (50 km, 2 h, 4000 colones return) and return at 12:30PM from the National Park. Park entrance fee for foreigners only: $US10 / 5020 colones, a bit overpriced but the view is nice.
- La Paz Waterfall Gardens An hour away from San Jose you can find lovely trails through primary rainforest that take you past five beautiful waterfalls. The La Paz water fall gardens also offer a hummingbird gallery, serpentarium, frog exhibit and large butterfly observatory.
- Every Thursday a dozens of young jugglers gather at the Parque Morazan and juggle together. Often with percussion music. It s a free event in public space. Normally you will be invited to play with them. Lovely experience if you like street art.
- Yoga. Costa Rica is a top destination for yoga. In San Jose, check out Downtown Yoga near Parque Morazan, which offers accessibly priced yoga and hooping classes for all experience levels. 
- Valle del Sol, Santa Ana (In the Lindora area next to Forum Park.), ☎ (506) 2282-9222.
- TTCR Golf Tour (San Jose), ☎ 866 448 3182. 7AM-10AM. Specialized golf transportation to/from San Jose area hotels and Marriott Los Suenos course. Reserve online for a $160 rate (2 person min.) including trasportation.
- Gym. Decent gym facilities can be found at the Spa Corobici (telephone: 231-5542) located behind the Hotel Corobici. The taxi ride from the airport is approximately $10 - $20 USD and entry into the gym is 5,300 CRC or $10 USD. The club has a good selection of free and machine weights as well as a cardio theater. The club also has an outdoor swimming pool for lap swimming, a jacuzzi tub, and a sauna.
- Casinos Many hotels have gaming. The most famous for the single traveler is Casino del Rey.
Mercado Central is a very old, interesting and bustling food market, which also contains a number of small restaurants and quick-serve counters for the locals. You will find fresh cooked fish and shellfish, corn based dishes, sopa de pescado (fish soup) and such exotics as "squid in his ink", ceviche (small bits of raw fish "cooked" in lime juice), helado de sorbetera (artesanal local cinnamon ice-cream) and more. Perhaps not for the faint of heart. And you could always just go for La Calle - Anything a street vendor is selling is probably good, for example the Mangos, street vendors often sell unripe mango strips with salt and lime, it's great.
- Bar Poas, Avenida 7, Calle 3 y 5 (Two doors down from the Pangea Hostel, across the street from St. Thomas Hotel in Barrio Amon), ☎ (506) 2-223-8677. 1200-0230. Photos of regular customers adorn the wall of this dimly lit but friendly bar and restaurant. A decent menu of Gringo and Tico food is available from noon to 0230. Try the award-winning Chili con Carne. There´s always an interesting group of characters there including proprietor Harry Hart who is always willing to dispense useful advice about San Jose and Costa Rica.
- Bagelmen's (Escazú, San Pedro, Curridabat, Guachipelín, Belén, Heredia). Good prices, excellent quality fast and healthy food (bagels, cream cheeses, coffee, salads, desserts and more). Very popular among tourists and american expats. Free internet.
- Cafetería Parisien (Gran Hotel, between Theatro Nacional and Plaza de Cultura). Not the most exciting food, but elegant settings.
- Ganesha (Located in Hotel America, 50 meters south of Central park in Heredia), ☎ 8379-7951. This is an Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant in Heredia, Costa Rica just about 15 minutes drive from the airport. Indian food lovers can get their garam masala fix here. Great Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Seekh Kebab and Chicken Tikka Masala. The lassis are great too
- Hotel Grano de Oro, Calle 30 Avenida 2/4, ☎ 255-3322. Beautiful but expensive restaurant. A breakfast menu costs around 2400 Colones or treat yourself to the delicious banana-macadamia nut pancakes (2000 Colones). The entrees are diverse and creative, do not hesitate to try the soup of the day, even if it sounds less than exciting. Duck is on the menu, and is some of the best to be had anywhere. Numerous seafood dishes are cooked to perfection, as is the beef and pork.
- Hotel Vesuvio Restaurante, Barrio Otoya, ☎ 257-5411. Italian food, pastas 1900 Colones, chicken 2000-2500.
- Lukas, Centro Comercial El Pueblo. One of two other restaurants at the El Pueblo.
- Machu Picchu Restaurant, (Paseo Colón) 1st Ave (125 meters north from Kentucky FC restaurant), ☎ 506.222.3679. The best international Peruvian Food & Sea Food. Try the Causa Rellena, Cebiche, Lomo Saltado, Ají de Gallina and Peru's traditional and landmark drink: Pisco Sour.
- Pizzeria Il Pomodoro, Cerca de Parque Kennedy y Banco Nacional en San Pedro. One of the best known casual restaurants in Costa Rica, . Italian cuisine, very good pizza and pasta, good cheap wine, from second floor great view or the mountains to the west.
- Soda Esnider (Walk a few blocks to the east from Plaza de la Cultura over the Central Avenue and get into Galerías Avenida Central. You will find several stores and if you go down the stairs you will come across Soda Esnider). You can have a wonderful “Casado” for lunch with a natural drink for as little as 1600 Colones ($3)
- Tin Jo, Paseo de los estudiantes. This is an incredible Asian restaurant featuring Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Indian food. Don't be scared by the looks on the outside, the restaurant is clean, beautifully decorated and offers the best service I experienced in Costa Rica.
- Vishnu. Vegetarian and Organic Restaurant. , With very reasonable prices and a varied, tasty menu they are easily the best choice for vegetarian food in SJ. There are three locations downtown San Jose: - 1 - South side boulevar, near the Banco popular. - 2 - Across Omni Center. - 3 - North side of the Iglesia Del Carmen.
- El Balcón del Marisco (appx 1 Km. East of EPA toward to hwy to Cartago). 10AM - 11PM. Great place for fish. Always busy. Service very good. No other place comparable. Clean and safe. ~$11.
- El Pueblo. Is a shopping center which becomes a clubbing district at night. There are several bars and nightclubs cluttered in the tiny little alleyways. Just mention El Pueblo to your taxi and he'll know where to go.
- San Pedro Is home to many bars and clubs, try to avoid the university of Costa Rica area at night as the many bars in the university district tend to attract brawls and even the occasional bullet shot. The other bars/clubs in San Pedro are free of trouble.
- Barrio La California Is the place to be if you're into the bohemian/rock crowd. Many bars have local bands playing every night. Great place to go bar hopping!
- Ristorante Tutti Li, Plaza Itskatzu, Escazú (Near Multiplaza, Courtyard, Holiday Inn, Residence Inn, Hotel Intercontinental), ☎ 2588-0425. One of the best Italian restaurants in town. Fresh pastas, traditional italian plates, brick oven pizza and exquisite wine selection, all with a modern flare. A must while in San José. Located in one of the most premium locations in the city. Don't miss out!
Gay and Lesbian nightlife
San Jose is a very tolerant city. Most bars are gay friendly. There is a small but vibrant gay life in San José from lesbian bars, to saunas and twink discos.
- La Avispa Is the oldest gay disco in Costa Rica. Big place with Latin music and dancing, pop. It has the most popular crowd and is recommended if you want to try the local flavor. Sunday's late afternoon and evening is the best time to go.
- Club OH Huge electronic music place with open bar on Fridays and Saturdays. It has a VIP area with better quality liquors and another DJ. Live Drag shows at midnight. Best day to go is Saturday.
- Bochinche Crowded Pop bar/disco, twink ambient. It is a very fashionable art deco style, colorful place. Diverse shows during the whole week, Fridays are open bar with carnival at midnight. Place is open until 5AM. Gets very crowded after 1AM. $3 each person.
- Boutique Annemarie, located inside Hotel Don Carlos, is a nice souvenir shop. But don't buy your stamps here, they'll charge you an extra 40% for the "service".
- El Pueblo shopping mall has lots of small souvenir shops.
- Mora Books Is a used book store on the corner of First Avenue and Street 3 in down-town San Jose. They have a great number of guide books. They will buy, trade, or sell for cheaper than I´ve found in other countries.
- Mercado Artesania One of the best places for getting souvenirs and handcrafted products. This market is on 2nd Avenue by the National Museum. 
- The Costa Rica Cigar Store Hundreds of Hand made Costa Rica Cigars. Locations on Sabana Sur and Barrio Amon. 
The best coffees have deserved reputations for superb quality. Super markets/grocers and small coffee growers usually have better prices than shops that cater to tourists. Often packaged in 12 oz. sealed bags, you should only purchase roasted, whole beans rather than ground...for epicures, "strictly hard bean" (SHB)). They will keep flavor longer...until you can store them properly at home (Google for methods), and won't include sugar as often found in Costa Rican ground. Roasted coffee also prevents you from running afoul of agencies such as FDA/APHIS that requires special licensing for importing "green"/unroasted beans (may be considered plant material).
The best cigars, where you will find a huge selection of Cuban Cigars is located at The Havana Humidor Room, 2 blocks North and 1 block West of the Holiday Inn.
Throughout the city, there are also a good deal of shops with wooden and ceramic souvenirs. The wooden pieces, such as masks, plaques, and other forms of wall art, are all beautifully hand carved as well as hand painted and the artisan usually signs their work with their name and where it was made on the backside. The ceramic pottery and dishware is done in this similar fashion and are available in a variety of designs and colors. These make interesting and personally unique gifts to bring home to family and friends for a reasonable price.
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