10 Things to do in San Jose

Last updated on April 30, 2023

Well, well, well, look at this list of little-known gems in the nation’s capital. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s no shortage of museums. That’s right folks, museums, the place where you go to pretend to be interested in history, while secretly just enjoying the gift shop. But I digress, let’s get into these hidden treasures:

First up, the National Theater. This bad boy is a real looker, located in the heart of downtown San José. The exterior is stylish, but it’s the interior that’s really gonna make you ooh and aah. Ornate golden ceilings, exquisitely patterned wooden floors, and large marble staircases – it’s like stepping back in time. And get this, it was the second theater in the world to be illuminated by the electric light bulb. Coffee barons saw the light in Paris and promptly returned home to build this masterpiece.

Next on the list is Barrio Amón, a neighborhood full of large, rich, and fine historic houses dating back to the late 19th century. It’s like a tropical Neo-Victorian dreamland. And if you’re into contemporary art, you’re in luck because many of these colonial mansions have been converted into galleries.

But if it’s food you’re after, head over to Barrio Escalante, the gastronomic epicenter of Chepe. That’s right, this former residential area is now lined with hip restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and bars. But be warned, on weekend nights the crowds descend and it gets busier than a one-armed bartender at a cocktail competition.

If you need to escape the city hustle and bustle, head over to Parque Nacional, the city’s largest inner-city park. Here you can find the National Monument, the National Library, and The National Center of Art and Culture. And if you’re into sports, the park is home to the National Gymnasium and the National Stadium.

Now, let’s talk museums. The Jade Museum is home to the largest collection of American jade in the world. It’s like a green dream come true. And the building itself is a work of art, designed to echo a cut jade block.

But wait, there’s more! The Gold Museum has a huge collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts, mostly made of gold and dating back to 500 AD. And if coins are more your thing, check out the National Coin Museum next door.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Don Mango, what about the bugs?” Well, my friends, San José has got you covered with the Insect Museum. It’s like a creepy-crawly wonderland, showcasing the diverse population of incredible creatures that call Costa Rica home.

And last but certainly not least, the Children’s Museum. Housed in an old penitentiary, this museum is part children’s museum, part art gallery. Kids will love the hands-on exhibits related to science, geography, and natural history, while adults will enjoy the unusual juxtaposition of contemporary art housed in the abandoned prison cells.

So there you have it, folks. San José, the much-overlooked cultural capital of Costa Rica. Don’t just take my word for it, go out there and experience it for yourself. And if you see me at one of those hip restaurants in Barrio Escalante, buy me a drink, won’t ya?