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There’s a reason Costa Rica ranks so high as a vacation destination. It’s wild enough to satisfy a sense of adventure and relaxed enough to make your family feel right at home.

As the chill of the ‘polar vortex’ takes hold of our thermometers and outlook, we find ourselves dreaming of warmer climes. Costa Rica in particular has us entranced. Since popping up recently in our Sunshine States series, we can’t get the tropical getaway out of out minds as we dream of days spent exploring the jungle canopy and relaxing evenings as we are cooled by perfumed tropical breezes. So here we are, back in Monteverde.

A trip to a place like Monteverde is a wonderful jumping off point for families taking the first baby steps toward a more wild and off-the-beaten path vacation. Infrastructures like roads and plumbing can still be an adventure but Costa Rica works hard to maintain its reputation as an economically stable, safe and family-friendly country. Set some 4,000 miles above sea level, the Monteverde nature reserve benefits from the cooling cloud cover that rolls in daily and is the reason it has earned it’s nickname as ‘Cloud Forest’. The average temperature ranges in the 60s and the area abounds with interactive adventures—frog ponds, butterfly gardens, bat jungles, orchid farms—there’s something for every type of nature lover. Self-guided adventures are easy to set up, but when visiting you should treat yourself to a day of guided activities. One we particularly recommend is a day at the Vida Aventura Nature Park.

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Vida Aventura Nature Park is one of Costa Rica’s hidden treasures. For $85/per adult (kids 3-12 pay half) you enjoy a full day of activities in and around the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. First up, zip lining through the jungle canopy. Next, a horseback ride through the hills. After lunch, there’s the mud and aloe vera treatments followed by a relaxing dip in the natural thermal springs and exhilarating plunge down the water slide.

The friendly staff and smoothly timed itinerary ensure that the focus of the day is on fun, so once you check in you can relax and leave the timeline to the experts. Guides adjust the adrenaline levels of the activities to the ages of the group, so grandmaw and junior can take the day at their own pace. While things like horseback riding might be a better fit for school-agers on up, the thermal pools are a treat for any age.

WHERE TO STAY


$$ Budget
Cloud Forest Lodge
Certainly on the rustic side, Cloud Forest Lodge doesn’t afford a lot of luxuries like AC or heat, but you can’t beat the price or the location. Nestled right at the edge of the forest you’re only steps away from the a world of exotic nature, bugs included, so pack your mosquito net.

$$$ Mid-priced
Monteverde Lodge and Gardens
A fifteen-minute drive may separate the Monteverde Lodge and Gardens from the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, but guests at this small hotel aren’t missing any nature time. Nestled in greenery of the Tilarán Mountain Range, flora and fauna abound. Inside there’s a bar, restaurant, wifi and 15 person hot tub.

$$$ – $$$$ Moderate to Luxury
Poco a Poco Hotel & Spa
This 30-room in the small town of Santa Elena is quaint, small and includes amenities that visitors from North America and Europe expect from a boutique hotel. There’s live music every night and an expansive indoor heated pool area (with a separate pool for kids). Some complain that it feels a bit sterile compared to other area hotels, but for those looking for flat screen televisions and hair dryers, it’s a friendly, reliable choice.

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