Alajuela, home to Juan Santamaria International Airport,
is most visitors first view of Costa Rica. Outside the fly zone, the province's
rural charm, enhanced by green, rolling countryside, quaint lodges and
first-rate restaurants, makes this "second city" more than just
an arrival and departure point.
Take the General Canas Highway north- 1 t 3- st from San
Jose to the Alajuela exit just 3 I to fore the airport. TUASA buses (222-5325)
leave every five minutes from Ave 2, St. 12-14 in San Jose. Alajuela Station
Wagon (441-1181) buses leave very five minutes from Jose's Parque La de
la Merced. Both cost about 150 ($0.50).
What to do
Poas Volcano Nanational Park,
a scenic, 37. drive from Alajuela, attracts visitors from around the world
to its steaming crater and bubbling turquoise sulfur pool. The 5,000-hectare
park is home to one of the country's most beautiful cloud forests. Bring
a jacket and prepare to wait patiently for a break in the clouds that
usually shroud the misty summit. The educational Visitors center at the
park's main entrance also houses snack bar and a gift shop. Open
7 a.m.:30 p.m. daily.
Ojo de Agua , jammed on weekends, natural spring-water swimming
pools, artificial boat pond, tennis courts, soccer fields, barbecue
grills, restaurant. Admission, ¢250 ($1).
Laguna Fraijanes, local sports, recreation facility on the
road to Poas, nature trails, picnic areas, basketball, volleyball courts
on 38 acres around a la goon. Unlighted cabins, chalets, and campsite
for groups of 10 and up. Open daily until sunset except Mondays. Entrance
$1 adults, kids half price.
The Butterfly Farm, must-see, 14 km south of downtown. Thrills,
educates with hundreds of these beautiful creatures in tropical garden
setting. Guided tours in several languages. Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
ZooAve in La Garita, vast collection of tropical birds,
some primates, reptiles, park` like setting. Home to a successful captive
breeding and release center for endangered species. Open daily 9 a.m.-5
Alajuela's mango tree-lined Central Park gives visitors
a feel for town's laidback atmosphere. Next to the park is the cathedral,
built in 1863, with its distinctive red metallic dome. Just south of the
cathedral is a statue in honor of Juan Santamaria, a drummer boy-turned-national
hero who died while setting fire to the headquarters of William Walker's
invading troops in the war of 1856.
The Juan Santamaria Museum, highlights battles against
William Walker, life of hero Juan Santamaria. Nearby Church of La Agonia,
built in 1941, is an architecturally interesting melange of styles amid
traditional adobe of surrounding structures.