Tourist activities abound in this region, and may take in culture, adventure or nature.
Outside the big cities, in the Central Valley’s rural zone, getting about on horseback is commonplace. Tourists can enjoy this activity in communities such as Turrialba, Santa María de Dota, Atenas, Zarcero, San Ramón, Palmares, upper Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela, as well as in the south and west parts of San José: Escazú, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colón, among other places.
There is no limit to the variety of hikes available for observing the region’s natural, historical, architectural, cultural, religious and commercial attractions.
The region offers a variety of picturesque roads and adventure or leisure sites that allow touring on regular or mountain bikes. Interesting routes include San Antonio de Escazú to the University for Peace, Turrialba to La Suiza, and Cañón del Guarco to Copey de Dota.
In recent years, a variety of new shopping centers have been developed in Curridabat, Zapote, downtown Alajuela, Escazú and Heredia, offering interesting shopping options for international tourists.
Art galleries have experienced a significant increase in recent years, not only in tourist and hotel districts but also in major commercial centers. Examples of Costa Rican art may be seen in cultural houses and in all the provincial capitals. In association with the Ministry of Culture, a few municipalities have created Culture Offices to discover local artists, which has encouraged an increase in artistic endeavors.
The Central Valley contains a wide variety of sites and buildings declared National Monuments or of architectural or historical interest to appeal to tourists appreciative of the country’s national heritage.
The cavern system in the outskirts of Patarrá offers adventure and the chance to learn about the fossils found in the mountain.
Many modern shopping centers and typical towns have restaurants and sodas (small, usually family-run restaurants serving local food) where visitors can sample Costa Rican cuisine. Communities with traditions in traditional food and drink include Zarcero, Ciudad Quesada, Santa María de Dota, Aserrí, La Garita, Poasito de Alajuela, Monte de la Cruz, Heredia, Pacayas de Alvarado, Santa Cruz de Turrialba, Atenas, Orosí and Grecia, as well as El Empalme, La Trinidad and Copey.
Visitors can observe nature and wildlife in several public protected areas, such as Braulio Carrillo, Volcán Poás and Tapantí-Macizo de la Muerte, as well as in the Lankester Botanical Garden, the Simón Bolívar Zoo, the Santa Ana National Zoo and the zoo in La Garita de Alajuela. Added to these, a few theme parks offer enjoyable experiences with nature.