If you've snagged a room at the Hotel Aranjuez in Costa Rica, you'll start the day early with custom omelets and a lavish buffet breakfast in the charming sunken courtyard. Otherwise, head to the centrally located La Criollita for a hearty Costa Rican breakfast- try their gallo pinto and excellent Costa Rican coffee. From there, it's a short, but colorful walk to the Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, a meditative oasis where you may spot Queen Alexandra, the largest butterfly in the world.
Consider booking a tour of Cafe Britt's sustainable coffee plantation in the rolling hills of Heredia, and learn a bit about Costa Rican folklore from the larger-than-life puppets that greet visitors when they arrive. Stock up on souvenirs and bags of the country's premier gourmet coffee at the Cafe Britt gift shop and have it all shipped home.
Folklore Puppets at Cafe Britt — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
Visit the jet black corner building that houses the Museo de Jade and take the elevator up to the 11th floor for a panoramic view of the city. A few blocks away is the Costa Rican Art Museum, where students and seniors always get in free; don't forget to take in the street-art that is blossoming all over the walls of the city. For lunch, try Product C in chic Escazú, or the cozy and more affordable La Fuente de los Mariscos for excellent seafood specials.
Street Art in San Jose, Costa Rica — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
Stroll through La Sabana Park, an expansive green oasis in the heart of the city; decades ago, it was the site of the country's first airport. Today, it's a family-friendly hub of outdoor recreational and leisure activities. Make your way on foot to Mercado Central and navigate the covered, somewhat chaotic maze of stands and shops where you'll find souvenirs and rub shoulders with locals. Don't be tricked into trying tortuga eggs; they are banned and endangered goods.
Restaurant at Hotel Grano de Oro — Photo courtesy of Hotel Grano de Oro
Around sunset, the pedestrian-only Avenida Central becomes a bustling thoroughfare leading to San José's Central Park. Bronze statues mingle with real people and couples can't seem to resist canoodling under the pavilion. For a romantic dinner, it's hard to beat the restaurant at Hotel Grano de Oro, with its amazing signature desserts like the Grano de Oro pie.
After dinner, there's live music and an international scene at the Jazz Cafe in Escazú. Nightly acts are consistently excellent and past performers have included Diego Urcola, Frank Gambale and Scott Henderson. If you still have energy left for drinking and dancing, get to El Pueblo or Castro's, two of San José's longest-standing and hottest nightlife spots.